February 28, 2012

Book Review: DEFENDING JACOB by William Landay

BOOK DESCRIPTION:   Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years.  He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob.  But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next.  His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.  

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy.  Jacob insists that he is innocent and Andy believes him.  Andy must.  He's his father.  But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own - - between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he's tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.   

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis - - a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spend out of control.  

My Review

William Landay's Defending Jacob is one of those books that will slowly and methodically invade your mind, your thoughts and, yes, your fears.  As a parent, this book scared the hell out of me.  

The primary question generated from this intense and powerful work is how well do we really know someone?  While it's a conundrum faced by many characters, the character of Andy Barber is a novel one (no pun intended) because Andy looks at the situation as not only a father but as a prosecutor whose mind examines evidence legally and scientifically.  

Andy's inner turmoil radiates off each and every page, evidenced by his crumbling marriage to Laurie, his strained relationship with his son Jacob and a forceful reexamining of his own upbringing.  These scenes, those with Andy's agitation, grief and shame over what his son has been accused of, are so incredibly powerful they are unnerving to read.  I felt nervous and agitated, as if I was peeking in on a family situation that I had no right to view, and yet I couldn't put the book down.   

As much as I was frustrated with Andy, convinced that he was refusing to see what may or may not have been in front of him, I sympathized with him.  I sympathized with his predicament, being ostracized by his neighbors and community, his profession.  

Equally, my heart broke for Laurie, who desperately wanted to believe in her son but also wanted to connect with Andy, and wanted her family to heal and return to the happy and safe place they had been in previously.  I felt as though I was standing by her side as her marriage and headstrong joy for living slipped away, and as the trial started.    

The scenes dealing with the trial were fascinating to read.  There was a bit of legal terminology and procedure but the average reader should have no difficulty in following and absorbing the drama.  

Defending Jacob threw a few curveballs at me during the course of the book and the ending was a surprise, to say the least.  It certainly stuck with me after I had closed the book and while writing this review, I feel the same uneasiness and borderline panic I felt while immersed in the story.  

Defending Jacob was a compelling and thought provoking book that is a combination legal thriller, mystery and family drama.  The writing is near flawless and author William Landay tells this story with a simple poignancy that packs an incredibly powerful punch.  Portions of the book are akin to the eye of a hurricane, the calm before the coming storm and what a storm it is.  

I would not hesitate to wholly and unconditionally recommend Defending Jacob.  It is a read that is well worth every moment spent with Andy "defending Jacob".  

Job well done, Mr. Landay.  I anxiously await your next work.

Defending Jacob is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.  

Review copy of this book provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of this book affect the outcome of my review.

With thanks to Pump Up Your Book for including me on this virtual tour!

About the Author

William Landay is the author of The Strangler, a Los Angeles Times Favorite Crime Book of the Year, and Mission Flats, winner of the Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for Best First Crime Novel and a Barry Award nominee.  A former district attorney who holds degrees from Yale and Boston College Law School.  Landay lives in Boston, where he is at work on his next novel of suspense.  His latest release is Defending Jacob.  

You can visit William Landay's website at www.WilliamLanday.com.  You can also become a fan on Facebook by visiting www.Facebook.com/WilliamLanday.  

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the superb review of Bill's latest book. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I loved it too. Couldn't put it down. Hope your readers get a chance to check it out.