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Defending Jacob: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

William Landay
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5,881 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $2.99
You Save: $12.01 (80%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Read a Guest Review by Joseph Finder
Find out why Joseph Finder is calling Defending Jacob "genuinely thrilling" and "deeply moving."

Book Description

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Entertainment Weekly • The Boston Globe • Kansas City Star
 
“A legal thriller that’s comparable to classics such as Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent . . . Tragic and shocking, Defending Jacob is sure to generate buzz.”—Associated Press
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life, his wife, Laurie, and teenage son, Jacob.

Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob.

Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family.

It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.

How far would you go?

Praise for Defending Jacob
 
“Ingenious . . . Nothing is predictable. All bets are off.”—The New York Times
 
“Stunning . . . a novel that comes to you out of the blue and manages to keep you reading feverishly until the whole thing is completed.”—The Huffington Post
 
“Gripping, emotional murder saga . . . The shocking ending will have readers pulling up their bedcovers to ward off the haunting chill.”—People
 
“The hype is justified. . . . Exceptionally serious, suspenseful, engrossing.”—The Washington Post
 
“Even with unexpected twists and turns, the two narratives interlock like the teeth of a zipper, building to a tough and unflinching finale. This novel has major motion picture written all over it.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Yes, this book came out in January. No, we are not done talking about it.”—Entertainment Weekly

BONUS: This edition contains excerpts from William Landay's Mission Flats and The Strangler and a Defending Jacob discussion guide.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2012: A fast, compelling, and compulsively readable courtroom drama, Defending Jacob tells the story of a district attorney's son who is accused of killing a classmate. As the father attempts to prove his son's innocence, Landay explores uncomfortable territory. Can a tendency toward violence be inherited? Is the capacity for murder a genetic disposition? The author, a former district attorney, gets the taut nuances just right, capturing the subtleties of a trial in a packed courtroom, where a small rustle or murmur can signify a lot. In the end Landay pulls off a clever plot device that doesn't reveal itself until the final pages. --Neal Thompson

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A 14-year-old boy is stabbed to death in the park near his middle school in an upper-class Boston suburb, and Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber takes the case, despite the fact that his son, Jacob, was a classmate of the victim. But when the bloody fingerprint on the victim’s clothes turns out to be Jacob’s, Barber is off the case and out of his office, devoting himself solely to defending his son. Even Barber’s never-before-disclosed heritage as the son and grandson of violent men who killed becomes potential courtroom fodder, raising the question of a “murder gene.” Within the structure of a grand jury hearing a year after the murder, Landay gradually increases apprehension. As if peeling the layers of an onion, he raises personal and painful ethical issues pertaining to a parent’s responsibilities to a child, to a family, and to society at large. Landay’s two previous novels (Mission Flats, 2003; The Strangler, 2007) were award winners, but he reaches a new level of excellence in this riveting, knock-your-socks-off legal thriller. With its masterfully crafted characterizations and dialogue, emotional depth, and frightening implications, the novel rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Don’t miss it. --Michele Leber

Product Details

  • File Size: 1744 KB
  • Print Length: 431 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1409115372
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1 edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050DIWFC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
833 of 871 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turning legal thriller and family drama December 24, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is as much a nuanced family drama, love story, and social inquisition as it is a murder/courtroom/legal thriller. If you can engage with the narrator, whose reliability or unreliability is a puzzle to piece together, you will be satisfied with this warm yet dark story of a community and family unhinged by a violent crime. The author is a former DA who is skilled at informing the reader about the law and procedure without telegraphing it. The narrative is even, polished, and intelligently observant of a community in shock, a family shattered.

I have relatives in Newton, Massachusetts, where this thriller takes place. It is an upscale community of educated professionals, whose children graduate from tony high schools and go on to Ivy League colleges. A fourteen-year-old boy stabbed to death in the park is incomprehensible to this insulated and well-heeled population. As prosperous as it is, there is also a provincial air to it, as like-minded families have always experienced security and safety here, and there is an expectation and history of benevolence. Violence is rare.

Jacob, the fourteen-year-old son of First District Attorney Andy Barber, is accused of murdering his classmate, Ben Rifkin. In Massachusetts, fourteen-year-olds charged with first-degree murder are tried as adults. Barber narrates the story with depth and dread, exposing some family secrets along the way, which could impact the case, and creates increasing internal trauma for his wife, Laurie. Their marriage has always been an ongoing love story; they met as freshmen in college and have loved each other unfailingly through the years. This event mires them in vulnerability and heavy exposure to the media, placing them under a public microscope. Do they really know their son?
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228 of 246 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I have just spent the entirety of one night and part of another reading a remarkable novel called DEFENDING JACOB. It's been a while since William Landay has graced the bookshelves with his presence, and his latest is quite different from his last effort, THE STRANGLER. While both books deal with family dynamics and loyalty, DEFENDING JACOB hits uncomfortably but unerringly close to home, as compelling a work as you are likely to pick up this year.

The basic premise of the book is deceptively simple. A 14-year-old boy named Jacob Barber, is accused of the murder of Ben Rifkin, one of his middle-school classmates. Jacob's father, Andy, has been an Assistant District Attorney for 22 years in the quiet Boston suburb that the family calls home. Andy does not consider his job a stepping stone to higher office; he is content to simply do the best job he can. So when Ben's body is first discovered, Andy takes charge of the initial investigation, working with the police in directing the gathering of evidence. But the investigation seems to proceed slowly, almost from the beginning, and when what evidence there is appears to point to Jacob as the killer, Andy is removed from the case and placed in the position of defending his son from the charges that, from his viewpoint, are most certainly false. In his mind, there can be no other conclusion.

Jacob's guilt or innocence is unknown throughout most of DEFENDING JACOB. But what is a certainty is that all is not right. Andy is a smart and experienced prosecutor who knows all too well how evidence can be wrongfully construed. Accordingly, he goes through Jacob's things, hiding this and destroying that and concealing the other.
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523 of 607 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Premise - Dragged Out January 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For me, this book had highs and lows. I'll start with the good stuff. The plot tackles multiple issues, expertly woven together, and laid out for us to ponder. At the heart of the story is the controversial topic of the `murder gene' and whether the propensity for violence is in our DNA. We question whether our family history changes how people perceive us. And, along with the characters, we wonder how far we would go to protect our child.

Now for the not so good stuff. I did not always find the parents, the father in particular, believable. He stumbles upon a few red flags with his son's activities, yet he never once confronts his son about these things. His character is a bit too much of an ostrich, sticking his head in the sand and pretending all is well. The characters aren't well-developed and I didn't connect well with any of them.

The biggest disappointment for me is the pace of the story. It drags. We spend a lot of time in the narrator's head and his thoughts become repetitive. The trial begins about 2/3 through the book and the pace slows to a crawl. We read long snippets of the trial transcript. Everything is rehashed for us in trial format, but none of the information is new. The experience left me feeling disconnected and bored, rather than involved or on the edge of my seat in suspense. By the time I arrived at the twist at the end, which should have been stunning, I breathed a sigh of relief that it was over.
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86 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defending Jacob -- an absorbing thriller January 28, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Note: This review is written to try and ensure that I leave no spoilers. This book's appeal lies in what the reader thinks will be the climax, only to be jolted by unexpected events beyond the courtroom drama.

I'd not read the two "crime novels" that William Landay has previously written (both received awards), but I'm drawn to the genre and most certainly will read them now. "Defending Jacob" draws you in and refuses to allow you to let go before you finish it. Would that I'd gotten it on Kindle so that I could have traveled easily with it and grabbed spare moments while waiting for the valet, in line at the coffee shop, etc.

Landay sets his novel in familiar territory, as he has worked in courtrooms in the Boston area. In a more or less typical suburb, Newton, the town is shocked by a tragedy of a 14 year old boy, Ben Rifkin, murdered before school starts in a local park that is the venue of joggers and kids walking to school. First Assistant DA Andy Barber takes the case for himself when the call comes in and goes directly to the crime scene.

But the book does not begin there. Instead, in the beginning, and throughout the novel, Landay starts the book with Barber (the "Witness") testifying before a grand jury to his nemesis, ADA Neal Logiudice. Throughtout the novel, as the grand jury testimony is layered into the story of Ben Rifkin's murder (standing out easily, as the author used significantly different form and type to separate it from the ongoing crime tale) the reader wonders whether the confrontation between
Barber and Logiudice is real or imagined, and, if so, in what context.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend this book and gave it a four only because ...
Very well written novel. I believe it's his first. I found this fluidly readable. The subject keeps you on edge and uncomfortable. This attests the author's expertise. Read more
Published 4 hours ago by bexter
3.0 out of 5 stars An adequate book which was interesting enough to keep me ...
An adequate book which was interesting enough to keep me engaged to the end. It did drag, as other reviewers have mentioned.
Published 6 hours ago by Ray Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars His best !
Great story and even better writing! Really enjoyed this book .
Published 7 hours ago by donald edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Wow! Not much more to say than that. The book gets better and better as you keep reading it. Great!
Published 9 hours ago by Timothy
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good read
Published 14 hours ago by Merritt Green
3.0 out of 5 stars page turner
Kept my attention but narrator's voice inexact. Knew things at the end that he couldn't have known. Parentheses don't belong in first person narrative.
Published 14 hours ago by wumbur
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it. Very engaging, kept me on my toes!
Published 21 hours ago by Snoozbunny
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
Surprise tragic ending. Engaging story line as flips back and forth from one time frame to the next. Good character development
Published 1 day ago by eric j. maercklein
1.0 out of 5 stars awful book
You want to like this book, but you just can't. You keep hoping it will get better but it doesn't. It gets worse all the way till the last page.
Published 1 day ago by D. Carley
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
I had a hard time putting this book down. Loved it.
Published 1 day ago by Connie M. Moody
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More About the Author

William Landay's latest novel is the New York Times bestseller "Defending Jacob." His previous novels are "Mission Flats," which won the Dagger Award as best debut crime novel of 2003, and "The Strangler," which was an L.A. Times favorite crime novel and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of 2007.

Visit the author at www.williamlanday.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/williamlanday

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Topic From this Discussion
what was actual ending of Defending Jacob?
yes, she already suspected him of the fist murder after listening to the psychiatrist talk about Jacobs' disorders-the father pooh-poohed the results, but she was shaken
When the child molester "committed suicide" and left a note behind, she believed the scenario (not being privy to the... Read More
Jun 6, 2012 by readerforever |  See all 23 posts
lawsuit regarding over pricing on e-books
I thought that the ruling meant that publishers may allow Amazon to sell discounted ebooks. Or maybe that's just I want it to mean.
Apr 26, 2012 by Amazon Customer |  See all 3 posts
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