James Thane's Reviews > Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay
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This legal/family thriller is strongly reminiscent of Presumed Innocent, the novel by Scott Turow that basically set the standard for every legal thriller that would follow.

In this case, the main protagonist is a long-time assistant D.A. named Andy Barber. He's second in command to a D.A. with higher political aspirations. The two are friends; Andy gets all the high profile cases because he's very good at what he does. Andy is married to the love of his life, Laurie, and they have a teenaged son named Jacob.

When one of jacob's classmates is stabbed to death in a local park while on his way to school, the entire community is shocked. Andy immediately takes charge of the case, determined to see that the killer is severely punished once the police find him or her. But then, Andy is stunned when his own son becomes the principal suspect in the killing after classmates reveal that Jacob had a knife much like the one the police have described as the missing murder weapon.

Andy insists, of course, that Jacob is innocent. He simply knows this intuitively because he loves his son. But Jacob is indicted and eventually tried for the crime. Andy's boss distances herself; that friendship is ended, and the case is given over to the number two prosecutor behind Andy, an ambitious, insecure prosecutor who is determined to make his bones by successfully prosecuting the case against Andy's son. Inevitably, all of this takes a toll on Andy and Laura's marriage, and so this is also a portrait of a family in crisis.

I had fairly mixed emotions about this book. I did not like any of the characters, who all seemed flat and one-dimensional. None of them was very sympathetic, and I found that I frankly didn't care much whether Jacob was convicted or not. I also didn't care about what might happen to his parents' marriage. Where the book came alive for me, though, was in the courtroom scenes. These are very well done, and once the trial finally began, I couldn't put the book down.

(view spoiler)

So a mixed review for me. I really enjoyed parts of this book a lot, but others troubled me. An okay read, but not a great one.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 24, 2017 – Shelved
September 24, 2017 – Shelved as: crime-fiction
September 24, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Janebbooks (last edited Sep 25, 2017 12:55AM) (new)

Janebbooks For me, James Thane, the spoiler is not a spoiler.
It explains easily and forthright why a reader would be skeptical of this lawyer's approach. Of course, he was protecting his son...and I suppose a good legal thriller should include a flaw or two in the "defender"...lawyer or not.
Jane

P. S. I just received a nice hardback of James Grippando's award-winning Gone Again from an Amazon marketplace seller. (Darn, I gave all my Jack Swyteck paperbacks---I had completed the whole series--to library sale last year. And now one wins the Harper Lee award)
Are you going to read and/or review this?


message 2: by Barbara (last edited Sep 25, 2017 06:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barbara Nice review James. :)

I read this book a while back and gave it 4 stars but didn't write a review. It's been mentioned a few times on Goodreads lately so I'm borrowing it from Hoopla audiobooks. Want to see what I liked about it. :)


Patricia I read this book, too, and had many of the same frustrations you did. I really liked the ending.


James Thane Janebbooks wrote: "I just received a nice hardback of James Grippando's award-winning Gone Again from an Amazon marketplace seller. (Darn, I gave all my Jack Swyteck paperbacks---I had completed the whole series--to library sale last year. And now one wins the Harper Lee award)
Are you going to read and/or review this? ..."


I've read a couple of Grippando's books, but don't know that one.


James Thane Barbara wrote: "Nice review James. :)

It's been mentioned a few times on Goodreads lately so I'm borrowing it from Hoopla audiobooks. Want to see what I liked about it. :) "


Thanks, Barbara. Let me know what you think of it this time around.


James Thane Patricia wrote: "I read this book, too, and had many of the same frustrations you did. I really liked the ending."

The ending was good, Patricia.


Paula Kalin I liked your review, James. I felt the same way and rated the book accordingly. Hope you have been well since I have last been in touch and look forward to seeing more of your reviews.


James Thane Thanks, Paula.


Barbara I've re-read (or re-listened) the book since I read your review James and pretty much agree with you. There shouldn't have been shenanigans with the knife.....and the characters aren't sympathetic. How about grandpa murderer in prison....what he arranges to have done is outrageous!!

My impression about Andy is that (deep inside) he thinks Jacob did it - but of course doesn't want him convicted.

It's a good book but Presumed Innocent is better....that whopper of an ending!!


James Thane Barbara wrote: "I've re-read (or re-listened) the book since I read your review James and pretty much agree with you. There shouldn't have been shenanigans with the knife.....and the characters aren't sympathetic...."

I totally agree, Barbara, especially about Presumed Innocent.


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