Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Defending Jacob: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
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
Featured Guest Review: Chevy Stevens on Defending Jacob
From the first few pages of Defending Jacob, I knew this book was special. More than an exciting courtroom drama that combines the best elements of a legal and psychological thriller, it also delves into the heart of a family, and will rip yours out in the process.
When a young boy is found brutally murdered in the woods in a peaceful New England town, his body hastily covered with leaves, the community is shaken to its core. No one more so than Andy Barber, a well-respected assistant district attorney whose fourteen-year-old son, Jacob, went to school with the boy. Sure, Jacob is a typical moody teenager, hiding in his room all day with his headphones and lap top, but Andy loves him more than anything in this world--and would do anything to protect him.
While Andy's wife, Laurie, struggles with the possibility that there's a killer on the loose and their own son could be next, Andy's determined to find the culprit and bring him to justice. He immerses himself in a maelstrom of angry parents demanding answers, police hell-bent on making an arrest, and the complicated lives of teenagers, with their own secrets, and reasons for keeping them.
When, in a stunning turn of events, Jacob is arrested for the crime, both Andy and Laurie are stalwart in their defense of their son: there's no way their child could've committed this terrible act. As more shocking facts are revealed and lies uncovered, Andy is pushed to the edge and his twenty-year marriage tested. Beautiful Laura, his college sweetheart and love of his life, begins to fade in front of his eyes, crumbling under the pressure of the trial, the public accusations, and the weight of her own doubts--in her son and her husband. When truths about Andy's past comes to surface, he must chose between the life he thought he'd left behind, and the father he wants to be.
Defending Jacob raises the question: how far would you go to protect your family? But it also leaves you wondering if anyone could answer that question, and whether we really know what we're capable of when push comes to shove.Let's pray we never have to find out.
Featured Guest Review: Phillip Margolin on Defending Jacob
Phillip Margolin has been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a school teacher, and is the author of 15 New York Times bestsellers. He spent a quarter century as a criminal defense attorney during which he handled thirty homicide cases, including twelve death penalty cases, and argued at the United States Supreme Court. He is a co-founder of Chess for Success, a non-profit that uses chess to teach elementary school children study skills. His latest novel, Capitol Murder will be released in April, 2012.
One perk of being a bestselling author is that you are sent advance reading copies (ARCs) of books by first time authors, or published authors whose editors believe have written a breakout novel. The ARC is sent by the writer's editor in hopes that you will write a "blurb," which is a sentence or two praising the book that can be used in advertisements. The books I blurb range from fun reads to very good reads. Then there is the rare book that knocks my socks off. William Landay's Defending Jacob is one of these gems. It is a legal thriller, but so are To Kill a Mocking Bird, Snow Falling on Cedars and Anatomy of a Murder. Defending Jacob, like these classics, separates itself from the pack because it is also a searing work of literary fiction.
At the heart of Landay's exceptional novel is a parent's worst nightmare. Assistant district attorney Andy Barber, his wife, Laurie, and their teenage son, Jacob, are living an idyllic existence in a middle class Massachusetts suburb until one of Jacob's classmates is stabbed to death in the picturesque park where the locals jog, walk their dogs and picnic. It soon becomes clear that Jacob is the prime suspect and the Barbers have to confront the possibility that the child they have doted from birth may be a sociopathic killer.
Andy takes a forced leave of absence from his job and helps defend the son he loves from a charge he cannot believe is true. Is he engaging in self-deception? How far will he go to protect his family? Laurie wonders if something she did as a parent has created a monster and her guilt destroys her. And then there is Jacob. Is he a typical angst filled teenager or a psychopathic monster? Landay skillfully keeps the reader guessing about Jacob's culpability and true nature up to the shocking final chapters.
What makes Defending Jacob special is the way Landay gives the reader the twists, turns and surprises found in the best legal thrillers while making its centerpiece the tragedy faced by a normal family who are thrust into a nightmare.
*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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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. He does it with the chilling certitude that he is not protecting a murderer, but merely keeping his innocent son from a wrongful conviction. Innocent or guilty, there is something about Jacob that's wrong, and dreadfully so. What Andy construes as the quiet moodiness of adolescence in Jacob emerges as something that is much more unsettling and sinister. This is revealed through stories told by Jacob's friends, a number of whom take his involvement in Ben's murder as a cold, hard truth. At the same time, Andy harbors a secret about his past and ancestry that he has concealed from everyone and fears will be revealed, even as he agonizes over the possibility that his secret may well be the cause of Jacob's problems.
Andy's conflicts notwithstanding, it is Laurie Barber, Andy's wife and Jacob's mother, who slowly realizes the truth about her son during the investigation, arrest and trial. The difference between Andy and Laurie is that Andy cannot conceive of a world where his son committed murder; Laurie can, and it is the fact that she can believe such a thing could occur --- whether it did or not --- that causes her physical and mental deterioration. As the trial, verdict and aftermath unfold, the book ends not so much in a climax as it does in a series of explosive incidents and revelations, each greater than the next, until a rough justice of sorts is achieved. Or is it?
DEFENDING JACOB is one of those rare books that offers a riveting story in addition to raising profound questions and issues for which we do not have the knowledge or capability to answer yet. Is the human capacity for violence an inherited trait, or is it something we learn? How far can, and should, a parent go to protect a child? Is this judicial system an effective way to deal with criminals, or should alternative methods be considered? DEFENDING JACOB presents an unsettling picture on an exquisite but disturbing canvas, one that will haunt the reader long after the final sentences of the book are read.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
Andy Barber is the first assistant district attorney with a attractive and empathetic wife, Laurie, and a typically moody teenage son, Jacob. He is also the holder of a secret: his father and grandfather were both arrested for violent murder. Suddenly, he is forced to face a parent's worst nightmare. His son's classmate is stabbed to death and gradually, the circumstantial evidence against his own son is overwhelming. This master of self-control and self-delusion is forced to consider whether the son he loves to distraction is capable of a heinous murder.
Is Jacob simply a teenager going through the usual throes of angst and alienation or is he the cold-blooded killer that the prosecutor portrays? How far will Andy go and what will he sacrifice to protect his beloved son? Some of the plot twists are a bit reminiscent of The Bad Seed, a 1954 novel by William March that was turned into an Academy-Award-nominated film with a "nature versus nurture" examination. But will the story end up the way that The Bad Seed did? Linday is smart enough to keep a kernel of doubt in his readers' minds.
This author excels in creating "teenspeak" dialogue. His teenagers - from Jacob himself to Derek Yoo, his best friend who turns to the prosecution, to Jacob's schoolmates - are so real they could step off the pages. This is some of the most believable teen dialogue I've ever seen. The only misstep is Landay's creation of Andy's father, who comes off as cartoonish, particularly in contrast to his other gripping characters.
While reading this, I could barely come up for air; the turns and twists, the family revelations, the emotional depth were all done with sophistication and aplomb. All the while, Linday educates the reader about the courtroom without crossing the line into authorial intrustion. I'm rating this 5-star, not in comparison to, say, War and Peace, but in comparison to others of its genre. Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy for my Kindle; my review is my own opinion and not influenced in any way.