Monday, May 12, 2014

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob
by William Landay
Random House, 2012
431 pages
source: purchased ebook


Summary (from goodreads):
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 spin out of control.

My thoughts:

Uneasy, disquieted, anxious, and more than a little depressed. That's how I felt most of the time I was reading Defending Jacob, yet I could not put the book down. These feelings surely attest to the skill of the author, yet they also remind me why I don't read more psychological thrillers.

As a former DA in the Boston area, Landay is well versed in all aspects of the criminal justice system. He presents an almost too real account of a teenager murdered in a suburban Boston park, and the DA's son is charged with the crime. The ultimate moral dilemma ensues.

The book begs the reader to ask, "What would I have done?" or "How would I react given those circumstances?"

And the ending? Don't even get me started. This is one book I won't forget for a good long time.

Defending Jacob was the latest selection for my book club. They always seem to pull me out of my comfort zone. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the meeting, but this was a popular choice and lead to a pretty lively discussion.

Now it's time for me to get back to literary fiction and classics...

Bottom line:
If you're reading for relaxation, choose a different title.

My rating:

32 comments:

  1. I found this book very compelling but the ending didn't surprise me that much. I think all the hype got to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Kathy - I'm glad I waited until the hype died down.

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  2. Your review captured my reaction exactly! :--)

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    1. Jill - A little intense for me...

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  3. I have heard some mixed things about this one but no one has mentioned the ending riling them up in any way. I like a good psychological thriller once in awhile, but like you, I prefer lit fiction and the classics!

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    1. Ti - The ending just took my breath away... not really that surprising, but I didn't see it coming.

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  4. I think 95% of book clubs have read this one, because it is so discussable. I read this pretty early in the game, so I didn't have the expectations but I knew the ending was something crazy, but I guess I put that out of my mind because when I got there, I was leveled. It rattled my book club, that is for sure. Not a happy read.

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    1. Sandy - No, not happy. My book club voted - 9 to 1 guilty!

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  5. I read this one in my book group and it was good for discussion. I remember enjoying it. A far cry from Middlemarch, which is our next book!

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    1. Sunday - I didn't realize you were reading Middlemarch for your book club! Don't think mine would attempt anything that ambitious ;-)

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  6. This sounds like a good psychological thriller! Thanks for your review JoAnn.

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    1. Pat - This definitely fits into the psychological thriller category!

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  7. Loved this one, but as you said -- not a book to relax with...LOL -- that ending was so good.

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    1. Diane - Definitely not a relaxing read. My husband was glad when I finished... claims I was in a bad mood the entire time I was reading!

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  8. I've been pondering a thriller for my book club - definitely out of everyone's comfort zone but it would be great to do that once in a while.

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    1. Lisa - There's a lot of material for discussion and it's a quick read!

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  9. This I'd one of th few thriller/mysteries that did not leave me feeling completely manipulated (like Gone Girl did, to name just one). I still havent forgotten it, and it's been many years since I read it. Like Turow's Presumed Innocent, the ending is so shocking, so perfect, so memorable.

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    1. Bellezza - You know, I loved Presumed Innocent but after so many years I don't even remember the ending. Maybe time for a reread...

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  10. I read this before all the hype, so the finale wasn't ruined. I was momentarily shocked, but then realized it was the perfect ending. I listened to the audio and thought it was very compelling. I keep meaning to read more by this author. Maybe this summer. (Reviewed here)

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    1. Les - After thinking about it for a while, I came to the same conclusion - a perfect ending! Thanks for your link.

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  11. I loved this book! And I agree with you about asking yourself "what would I do?"…much like Jodi Picoult always makes her readers do!

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    1. Sarah - Yes, that's a question Jodi Picoult makes her readers ask themselves, too. A very intense read for me, for sure!

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  12. I listened to this one on audio, and I really enjoyed it! I think it would be a great book club pick too--sorry you missed out on the discussion.

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    1. Nomadreader - I was really sorry to miss this discussion, too. Apparently they took a vote and found Jacob guilty by a 9-1 margin.

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  13. I listened on audio and was couldn't stop listening - I loved the pacing. I gasped out loud while on my walk!

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    1. Colleen - There has been lots of praise for the audio version. I'm sure it would have kept me walking for long time!

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  14. I'm even more intrigued now...I think I told you that this was my former town's "townwide read," and I'm SO curious about that ending. Maybe this summer.

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    1. Audrey - Yes, I remember you mentioned that. It seem that even the park where the murder took place is a real location... think that would creep me out if I lived there!

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  15. I've wanted to read this one for a while. Actually I think I may have the audio and will have to check. One knows they have too many audiobooks when they can't remember what they have. Lol. It most definitely sounds like something I would like. I enjoy books that take me out of my comfort zone once in a while - that's usually what's so great about book clubs.

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    1. Darlene - LOL, I know that feeling! Many of the above comments have mentioned that the audio production is very good. Hope you get a chance to enjoy it!

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  16. It's the depressing description that has had me put this one off, but I do want to read it. Glad you liked it.

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    1. Stacy - My husband was glad when I was done reading this book. He said I was in a bad mood the entire time... beware! ;-)

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