.

.

July 21, 2012

Defending Jacob



Defending Jacob by William Landy
Fiction/Thriller
2012 Blackstone Audio
Reader: Grover Gardner
Finished 6/25/12
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)




Publisher’s Blurb:

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.

Defending Jacob is an intense psychological thriller, peopled with believable characters and an energetic plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this Barnes & Noble Recommends selection. The pacing is even and taut and author kept me guessing all the way to the very end of the novel. I didn’t care much for Andy Barber, but then, I’m not sure I was supposed to. He was rather full of himself, coming across as a self-righteous, arrogant husband and father. It’s hard to say if my reaction to Andy is due to his perhaps all-too-accurate characterization or the manner in which audio book reader Grover Gardner depicted him while reading Andy’s dialogue. Grover Gardner is not one of my favorite readers. He doesn’t do a very good job distinguishing between characters and his female voice portrays women as silly or whiny. However, apart from the narrator, I found this mystery extremely compelling and was anxious to grab my Nano and listen to another chapter at every free moment.

On a father’s anguish:

…What was the motive? I don’t mean anger, greed, jealousy, that kind of motive, because there can’t be an ordinary motive in this case, there can’t, it just doesn’t make sense. Who could feel that kind of, of rage against Ben, against any little kid? It just doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t make sense.” Rifkin put the four fingertips of his right hand on his forehead and worked the skin in slow circles. “What I mean is: what separates these people? Because I’ve felt those things, of course, those motives—angry, greedy, jealous—you’ve felt them, everybody’s felt them. But we’ve never killed anyone. You see? We never could kill anyone. But some people do, some people can. Why is that?”


On marriage:

A good marriage drags a long tail of memory behind it. A single word or gesture, a tone of voice can conjure up so many remembrances. Laurie and I had been flirting like this for thirty-odd years, since the day we met in college and we both went a little love-crazy. Things were different now, of course. At fifty-one, love was a quieter experience. We drifted through the days together. But we both remembered how it all started, and even now, in the middle of my middle age, when I think of that shining young girl, I still feel a little thrill of first love, still there, still burning like a pilot light.

Final Thoughts: Landy is a skilled storyteller, pulling the reader in from the opening pages. I look forward to delving into his backlist (Mission Flats, which won the Dagger Award as best debut crime novel in 2003 and The Strangler, which was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award for best crime novel in 2007). Defending Jacob is a solid work of crime fiction and will appeal to fans of Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Jodi Picoult and Harlan Coben. It would also make for an excellent book club choice. There’s certainly a lot to discuss—including the shocking twist at end!



16 comments:

  1. A friend of mine said she gasped as she read this book. She keeps urging me to read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I urge you, too! It's quite an exceptional read. I was a little hesitant to read about a murder trial... but the mystery kept me guessing and I couldn't stop listening!

      Delete
  2. Sounds like one for my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. I think it's one you'd like.

      Delete
  3. Hmmm....what did you think about that ending? When I first read it, I hated it but then I came to see the reason why it was there. That final twist fairly begs to be discussed, doesn't it? A good legal thriller for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I was prepared for a shocking ending (after reading Bellezza's review), so I wasn't dissatisfied with the final outcome. Just a little bit unsure of whether I believe the defendant was guilty or innocent. I'm still not sure!

      Delete
  4. I'm rejoicing with you over another "Terrific!" read! Woo! Gotta love it, huh? I rated it a 4.25/5. Unlike you, though, I really enjoyed the narrator and was not surprised at the ending. I didn't really like it and wished it had surprised me. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and want to read his other works, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to read his other books, too. I wonder if they're as good. I've never heard of him until now, so I get the feeling he's improved with experience. I'll keep an eye out for a review from you from his backlist.

      Delete
  5. What a haunting book. I could not stop thinking about it. Defending Jacob was a wonderful book club choice.So much to talk about! As far as the ending, many of us felt that it was rushed. Still an excellent book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't stop thinking about this book, either. Haunting is the perfect description, Susan. So your book group read and discussed it, eh? I'll bet that was a lively meeting. Lots to talk about and probably lots of differing opinions.

      Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  6. Wasn't the ending a total surprise? I don't want to leave anything that would spoil the ending for a reader who hasn't yet read this book, but I found myself reeling...unprepared for the final verdict on the son. I loved how this novel was written by a male, and to me, it really represented the point of view of a father and a husband as well as the lawyer. Fantastic book, which I recommended to my book club (but was absent in Toronto this week when they discussed it).

    Hope the heat isn't discouraging you as much as it is me. I find it impossible to ride my Canondale this Summer, impossible to do much of anything, really. Hope that cheered your day. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how surprised I was with the ending, but the part about the girl really caught me off-guard. I won't say more, either, since I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it yet.

      Yep, it was a fantastic book. So many scenes seared in my memory. What a shame you missed the discussion, but Toronto looks like it was great fun!

      Oh, the heat is very discouraging. We were at 106 yesterday and 104 today. No relief in sight, although my husband says it's going to cool off toward the end of the week. Cooling off means below 100, but still in the 90s. Wahhhhhh! I rode today, but it was the first time in a month. Only got 20 miles in before I had to quit due to the heat.

      Delete
    2. 20 miles sounds phenomenal to me! I am so impressed with your stamina! At least we can both look forward to autumn. (Can you imagine me starting school on this with no a/c? I think it'll throw me into menopause head first!)

      Delete
    3. I hope you've had some relief from the heat these past few days. It was cool (actually cool!) yesterday morning and I'm kicking myself for not getting out on the trail. But the wind was strong and I found myself making excuses so I could stay inside and enjoy my second cup of coffee and write a couple of book reviews. And, of course, now it's already too hot today. I am so looking forward to fall!! And, no. I can't imagine you teaching in this heat without a/c. The bookstore has a/c, but it never feels cool enough for me. I'm sure I look as if I've run a marathon when I get a hot flash. Ah, the joys of being 50. ;)

      Delete
  7. Sweet!! I bought this one on audible because Diane was crazy for it. Now with your glowing review I can't wait to listen to it!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are going to love it, Staci!!

      Delete

I may not answer your comments in a timely fashion, but I always answer. Check back soon!