Julia's Reviews > Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay
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Jul 17, 12

Read in July, 2012

Andy Barber has been an assistant District Attorney for more than 20 years. He is happily married to Laurie, with a teenage son, Jacob. When a local schoolboy - a classmate of Jacob's - is murdered, Andy starts to investigate. Early evidence points to a local pedophile. Then - to Andy's shock - his son Jacob is charged with the crime. Andy is suspended from his job and joins the defence team to clear his son's name.

The first half of this book unfolds at a steady but not terribly compelling pace, but things pick up as the case goes to trial. Andy narrates the story and is utterly convinced of his son's innocence, even when the evidence raises doubts in the mind of the reader. One of the strong points of the book is the way that you're kept guessing as to whether Jacob is innocent or guilty until the very end. At times I was convinced that he was, then at others I'd decide he couldn't be. An interesting twist is that Andy's father was himself a murderer - a fact that he has kept hidden from his family until now.

Andy and Laurie react quite differently to the accusations against Jacob. At times this book reminded me of We Need To Talk About Kevin, not in terms of the plot specifics, but in the way that the father blindly thinks the best of his son at all times, while the mother is more aware of his flaws. I found Andy's personality somewhat too simplistic in this regard. Some of the things he does and the thoughts that he has just seem unrealistic for an Assistant DA. I also felt that the book would have been stronger if we'd been given some more insight into Jacob's personality - we get told what others think of him, but he never really became a real person for me.

A highly readable story which raises lots of thought provoking questions and comes together in a terrific way at the end.

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