|Award-winning author Willliam Landay’s “Defending Jacob” is a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also an engaging story of guilt, loyalty and moral ambiguity.
I am not normally drawn to legal fiction, but I absolutely could not stop reading this book.
He weaves the story so beautifully that I was immediately spellbound by the character’s story, and then just when I thought I had it figured out, Landay made a hard right turn.
“Defending Jacob” tells the story of Andy Barber and his family.
Barber has been a well-respected assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts County for half his life and enjoys working for the DA.
He is well liked in the community, has a happy marriage to his wife Laurie, and a functional relationship with his teenage son Jacob.
The foundation for everything important to Andy Barber would be tested when, after taking a case where a teenage boy was murdered, his own son becomes the primary suspect.
Barber’s loyalty to his son is ferocious.
He maintains Jacob’s innocence even when gaping holes begin to appear in his actual knowledge of his son.
Jacob insists that he had nothing to do with the murder and Barber commits to fighting for him, even bending the rules that he has always upheld.
The family starts to fall apart as an entire town turns against them, and skeletons from the past start to surface. Tempers flare, lies are told and the small New England town begins to unravel.
Barber is forced to face the brutal reality of his past and the possibility of a dismal future for his son.
Jacob is pulled out of school, Barber is suspended from the District Attorney’s office, Laurie is coming apart more every day, and yet the trial moves on.
As the story weaves a complicated tale, dropping just enough hints to keep the suspense going, the reader is left questioning themselves.
What would I do? How far would I go for my child? For what is right?
Landay has a way with words that is in some cases almost poetic.
Lines like “An emotion is a thought, yes, an idea, but it is also a sensation, an ache in your body. Desire, love, hate, fear, repulsion – you feel these things in your muscle and bones, not just in your mind,” held me spellbound until the end.
“Defending Jacob” was recently released in paperback and should definitely be added to the list of books that you must read.