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Defending Jacob Paperback – 14 Feb 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (14 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780222181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780222189
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Landay was an assistant district attorney before he turned to writing. He is the author of two previous novels, Mission Flats and The Strangler. He lives in Boston with his family.

Product Description

Review

Not since the novels of Scott Turow has a crime thriller - any thriller, though this too happens to be a literary legal thriller - shaken me by the throat like this. It's a stunning, shocking, emotionally harrowing ride in which the reader is plunged into a riveting but terrible murder trial and the heartbreaking implosion of a loving family. I had to lie down when I finished it (all too soon) to still my beating heart. ... What sets this apart from many thrillers is Landay's remarkable storytelling which allows him to craft the most sensational twists without forfeiting belief. But it's not just about suspense. Landay has written an unflinching account of the complexities of family life in a changing world (DAILY MAIL)

Landay clearly derives his premise from Scott Turow's prosecutor-in-the-dock thriller Presumed Innocent, and to say Defending Jacob is almost as good as Turow is high, not faint praise; the handling of Barber's voice is impeccable, the use of interwoven transcripts of his appearance before a grand jury is a distinctive and cunning device. (SUNDAY TIMES)

A clever blend of legal thriller and issue-oriented family implosion (NEW YORK TIMES)

This is a legal thriller worthy of mention in the same breath as Turow's masterpiece. A compelling read (THE TIMES)

Word of mouth on a new novel is not always to be trusted but sometimes a new book handsomely fulfils all the expectations. This is such a novel. ... If Turow's Presumed Innocent remains the definitive legal thriller, Defending Jacob is one of the most accomplished to have followed in its wake. A final word of advice. Tackle this quickly before friends start to discuss the shocking ending. (DAILY EXPRESS)

William Landay is being talked about as a new Scott Turow or John Grisham, having been one of Boston's district attorneys. He is at home with both the processes of detection and courtroom scenes ... a taut, tense, well-written thriller. (LITERARY REVIEW)

I felt emotionally exhausted when I'd finished reading this compelling, tense thriller... [a] brilliantly-written story (TELEGRAPH & ARGUS)

Landay's first legal thriller makes Scott Turow and John Grisham seem like amateurs. (EVENING STANDARD)

Book Description

If your son was on trial for murder, what would you do?

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Ford on 20 Mar 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is extremely well written and is very gripping.

But the narrative is very analytical and detailed and because of this the pace can appear rather slow. The storyline is about a fathers defence of his son who is suspected of murdering a fellow school pupil and the history of a "Murder Gene" that runs in the fathers bloodline.

In contrast to the main body of the book the ending is rather sketchy and would have benefitted from more detailed description.
Despite my criticisms of pace this book is a good read and is difficult to put down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By adele on 27 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Publisher: Orion Books

ISBN 978-1-4091-1537-3

When the DAs son is accused of murder nothing in their family is going to be easy.

There is some evidence but it is all sketchy at the best.

Jacobs father believes implicitly that Jacob is not and could not be capable of this but his mum is not so absolute. She does not want to believe her son could commit murder but also feels that you can never completely know anybody even your own son.

The book follows Jacobs trial interspersed with flashback scenes of the lead up to the trial. It is very well written and accessible.

The characters come alive on the page. I found it very difficult not to cheat and skip to the end to find out the outcome because I so wanted Jacob to be innocent. I could relate in some ways to the characters and empathized with the parents almost impossible situation.

I just kept reading and reading, I could not put this book down. I was gripped and could not read fast enough. When I did reach the end there was an unexpected twist which I found disappointing - see what you think.

Highly recommended

Personal read 5/5

Group read 4/5 Only one main discussion point that I could see - would you feel the same as either of the parents about your son in a similar situation? This could develop into quite a lively debate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By wordparty on 26 Mar 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an excellent crime novel. To call it a legal thriller would diminish it, I think. There is law and a court case at its centre, but it is not one of those books in which the main information or solution comes out of the trial itself and the clash between attorneys. The trial is just one element among others which include the crime, obviously, the characters, the genetic disposition or not towards violence, the small town and families caught up in the crime, and the ambushing twists and turns of the story.
It was the trial and police investigation material that I found the least convincing, in fact, but that may be the point: that we should distrust everything to do with the law.
William Landay writes with authority and ease and you feel you are in hands of a confident and very able writer, who goes down deeper into character than many other crime-writers.
I found the pace to be just right. The need to find out the truth pulled me along, but didn't rush me through aspects of character development - particularly in Laurie, the wife - that were unexpected, and thoughtfully done.
Although it is an utterly different book, it is reminiscent of some of the themes in "We need to talk about Kevin." The child's heart. The adolescent heart. The nature of the heart.
I would thoroughly recommend this powerful and intelligent book, whose story stays with you after the book is finished. And stays.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wells Glueck on 19 Mar 2012
Format: Hardcover
After I watched Emily Rooney interview William Landay on her TV show, Greater Boston, I read his three novels to date in reverse order. Defending Jacob is the third and best. The unexpected turn of plot in Jamaica is the most credible, and there is more laugh-provoking humor in this work (especially in the repartee between Jacob's parents and in arch comments about mothers) than in the preceding two, The Strangler and Mission Flats. But in all three, the development of character is positively Jamesian, evoking recollections of the insightful, analytic descriptions of Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady. This work constitutes a serious exploration of recidivism within and across generations, and, true to the author's disowning of certainty in matters criminal, it suggests but does not dictate conclusions about the disturbing events depicted. Not at all pulp fiction, this novel is several cuts above the contemporary syllabus of crime fiction. This excellent book is, in Milton's phrase, the life blood of a master spirit.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an enjoyable thriller charting the experience of the father Jacob, who is accused of murdering another kid at this High School. The reason people are reading it is its use of the "killer gene" argument. One of the key questions in the narrative is whether the violent history of the father's family could be used in the prosecution of his son, which it rapidly emerges is inadmissible evidence. Landay wants us to engage more deeply with the argument, however, and sets up his hero as a man who feels violent urges. He successfully suppresses these urges. Has his son inherited these urges from his father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

The twists in the tale are somewhat predictable. The minor characters are not drawn with much conviction and this left me dissatisfied. I would have liked the prosecutor, Logiudice, to have come over with a more rounded personality after the brilliant introduction of his teeth in the opening pages. I would also have liked the mother to have had a chance to think about parenting. "What did we do wrong?" is at least as interesting a question as "What did our genes do?" and both questions are relevant to the case.

Anyway, it's a good book for the beach or a long train ride. The story rattles along without getting boring and you can engage with Q&A section at the end if that kind of thing lights your candle.
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