Jessica Woodbury's Reviews > Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay
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bookshelves: arc, kindle, crime-mystery

I hold books featuring cops and lawyers to a higher standard. First, because I AM a lawyer. And second, because if you're going to have that kind of protagonist, they need to be actually believable in that role. Otherwise find another way into your story. (And there are many. Note all the thrillers that feature retired or former cops, private investigators, random people who just decide to investigate, etc.)

So I was frustrated by this book several times because its protagonist (a career prosecutor) so often acts at odds with his background. And he doesn't justify it. He just does. He fights against reasonable and sane strategies. He does exactly the opposite of what any lawyer in his situation would do. And it's without any explanation or apology.

And it's REALLY a shame because in terms of plot and other aspects this is a really strong book. Working with flashback 1st person narration and some firecracker grand jury testimony for a case that isn't revealed until the end, the building blocks of the book and its story are great.

The main character, Andy Barber, disturbed by his own family history and the possible homicidal tendencies of his son, however, never really comes alive. He does absurd things with little or no explanation. He spends much too long ruminating on these themes of genetic tendencies and far too little describing who his son actually is.

Perhaps a 3rd person approach might have helped to give a little perspective. Especially since the reactions of Andy's wife, Laurie, are realistic and well-drawn.

The courtroom scenes are well done. Landay is obviously a lawyer and you can tell. So no complaints there.

I just felt disappointed that this could have been a really impressive book with a great story and killer ending but instead I was so frustrated with its shortcomings.
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Reading Progress

November 23, 2011 – Started Reading
November 24, 2011 – Finished Reading
November 25, 2011 – Shelved
November 25, 2011 – Shelved as: arc
November 25, 2011 – Shelved as: kindle
March 31, 2014 – Shelved as: crime-mystery

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