Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

03 Feb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book works as a mystery, as a courtroom thriller, and as a family drama.

Summary via

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.The writing was absolutely perfect to draw me in and deliver the story.

This story would have worked well simply as a mystery– a father trying to prove his son innocent of murdering another boy.

The courtroom aspects were a great added element. It was clear that William Landay understands how the system works, and he wove that into the book, adding an extra layer to the story.

What pushed this book to amazing, that will make a great read for a wide audience, is the family drama. What happens to a family with a child accused of doing something terrible– particularly when one parent believes it is possible, when long-buried secrets are unearthed, when every piece of the past is called into question. Andy Barber is absolutely convincing as a father prepared to stand behind his son, no matter what.

I’ve been debating how much more to say, but I think the rest is best discovered by reading. I’d recommend picking this one up and finding out for yourself.

I picked up this book for review at NCIBA.  Thank you to the publisher for providing it and to NCIBA for inviting us to attend.


Posted by on February 3, 2012 in books, reviews


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6 responses to “Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

  1. sagustocox

    February 3, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Some have said that this book is like reading a more modern Atticus Finch…what do you think about that statement?

    • Laura

      February 3, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Hmm, I can’t say that would have occurred to me! I can see some similarities in the character, but I’m not seeing the parallels in the situation. I’d love a pointer to someone who said that, though! This book has tremendous possibilities for discussion and analysis.

  2. Liz

    February 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Found this a surprisingly interest read, but I would not compare with To Kill A Mockingbird.

  3. Sue Jackson

    February 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I keep hearing good things about this book from all different sources! It sounds very thought-provoking…something I really like in a book.

    Looking forward ti reading it.


  4. BermudaOnion

    February 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I don’t think I’ve read anything bad about this book. A friend of mine said she couldn’t stop reading it once she picked it up.


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