Gloria Feit's Reviews > Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay
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Jun 02, 12

Read in June, 2012

Is this novel a courtroom drama, a psychological study of a family, an introspective study of a man, or is it about truth and justice? Or all of the above? It’s hard to tell in this rambling book which attempts to keep the reader in suspense and leaves much to the imagination.

Andy Barber, the First Assistant DA in Newton, MA, is thee man who faces the questions posed by the story and really doesn’t come to grips with the essential problems raised. His 14-year-old son is accused of murdering a fellow student and goes to trial for Murder One. Did he or didn’t he? Andy, who initially ran the original investigation, does not believe his son is capable of doing the deed. The effect of the pressures of the trial on Andy and his wife are weakly described. The courtroom drama is, to some extent, extremely well done, but, for the most part, drawn out to a great degree. And the snideness of the comments about Andy’s replacement when he’s taken off the case and during the trial are too often petty.

On the whole, the novel is an interesting presentation, but could have been edited severely, especially the front end which drags on slowly until the book picks up steam toward the middle. It is no spoiler to note that there is more than one surprise waiting for the reader at the end, some attention-grabbing, others a little far-fetched. That said, it is an off-beat novel that is recommended.
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