A Review of the Legal Thriller Defending Jacob by William Landay
In Defending Jacob, Andy and Lori Barber seem to have it all…an idealistic suburban life, great friends and neighbors, and reputations to be envied. Then their 14-year-old son, Jacob, is accused of murder and life is never the same again.
Released this past January by author William Landay, this novel combines legal suspense, character depth, shocking plot turns, and an ending that will blow your mind.
The story begins when Andy Barber, an Assistant D.A. for more than 20 years in Newton, MA, receives a phone call that a teenage boy has been found murdered in a park near the very middle school that his own son, Jacob, attends. It becomes even more personal for Andy when he discovers that the victim and Jacob were acquainted.
Andy suspects that a sleazy pedophile who lives near the crime scene is responsible for the horrific stabbing, but after interviewing the victim’s classmates and reading on Facebook that Jacob not only owns a knife that matches the murder weapon but is being accused of the crime by his own circle of friends, he is forced to consider otherwise.
As everyone in town turns their backs on the Barber family and their perfect existence begins to crumble, Andy takes a hard look at the evidence, which appears very circumstantial. But things soon get worse when Andy and his now mentally fragile wife, Lori, learn that more stunning evidence has been discovered.
Eventually Jacob is charged with first-degree murder and must stand trial. Throughout the entire ordeal, Andy never loses faith in his son or his innocence. Even when he discovers that Jacob is not quite the perfect son that he thought he was.
Andy is also forced to tell his wife a surprising secret he’s been hiding for their entire marriage – a secret that could destroy their idealistic family forever.
William Landry proves that he is a master storyteller of suspense in Defending Jacob. The novel has no real weaknesses and can hold its own with any legal thriller compared to it. And for the mystery buffs out there, this book feels somewhat like a combination between a John Grisham courtroom drama and an attention-grabbing Harlan Coben selection.
Defending Jacob is actually William Landay’s third novel. His debut novel, Mission Flats won the Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for Best First Crime Novel, and his second offering, The Strangler, was selected by The Los Angeles Times as the favorite crime book of the year.
Landay himself is a Yale and Boston College Law School graduate who served for eight years as an Assistant D.A. in Middlesex County, Massachusetts before turning to writing as a career.
Luckily for all of the suspense enthusiasts out there, Landay is already working on his next anticipated novel, but in the meantime, if you are going to pick one book to read during this steamy Kansas City summer, Defending Jacob is it.
The layers of tension, smooth writing style, and great twists and turns at the end make this selection worth every minute you spend devouring the pages to discover the answer to the million dollar question – is Jacob truly a vicious killer or an innocent boy falsely accused of a gruesome murder.