Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob is a thriller, mystery, and book about family dynamics. It’s a suspenseful book that really stayed with me and made me think. If you like books by John Grisham, Scott Turow, Michael Connelly, and Jodi Picoult, then give this book a try. The main character Andy Barber is an assistant DA in a wealthy Boston suburb where he lives with his wife Laurie and 14 year old son Jacob. Andy narrates the story which is interspersed with transcripts from a grand jury and covers the period between April 2007 and April 2008. In April 2007, a classmate of Jacob’s is knifed to death in a park while on his way to school. Andy suspects Leonard Patz, a local pedophile, but evidence begins to point to Jacob. Even when Andy finds a knife in Jacob’s dresser drawer, he believes that Jacob is innocent and gets rid of the knife because he believes it could not possibly be the murder weapon. When a bloody fingerprint on a tag of the victim’s sweatshirt is identified as Jacob’s, he is arrested, and Andy is taken off the case. Although Andy continues to believe in Jacob’s innocence, one of the things weighing on his mind is that his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were murderers. Laurie wants to believe her son is innocent but is not as unwavering as Andy. She is shaken by Andy’s revelation about his family. Their marriage is strained, and they are friendless in the community. Andy has come to despise his former protégé Neal Logiudice who prosecutes Jacob. Although there is resolution to Jacob’s trial, there are still questions. Be sure to read all the way to the end of the book because there is a suspenseful twist at the end!


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