“Defending Jacob” by William Landay.  This is not a happy, easygoing, light read.  But, it is good.  “Defending Jacob” is a strong, moving story told by Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney in a county just outside of Boston.  Long tenured and successful in his work, Barber knows how to handle the toughest of cases.  When a schoolmate of his 14 year old son is murdered in a park near their school, Andy Barber is confident that he will solve the case and bring justice to the murderer.

But Barber’s respected manner and expertise are all quickly brought into question when his own son, Jacob, is accused of the murder.  William Landay, in his third book, proves himself to be quite the storyteller as he weaves together this suspenseful thriller style tale.  Landry uses Andy Barber’s voice to tell the story and it moves beyond suspense to also become a moving story of family tragedy.

The Barber family’s lives are completely changed by the accusation.  Friends are no longer friends and co-workers’ attitudes are no longer the same.  Did Jacob really kill his classmate?  As a Dad, Andy Barber will not let himself believe, or even suspect, that his son is guilty of this murder.  And, Laurie, the wife and Mom, who has always had her life so together, finds herself suddenly struggling to get through it all.  Her whole persona changes.

William Landay keeps the story fresh and intriguing by combining Andy Barber’s narrator voice with periodic inserts of excerpts from courtroom question and answer dialogue between Neal Logiudice, who becomes the district attorney assigned to the case when Jacob is accused, and Andy Barber.  And the tensions and pressures within the Barber family are woven in great detail into the story.  The love and care are obvious but the strains that a high profile murder case have on the Barber family are conveyed in a compelling way.

While I personally felt Jacob’s guilt as I moved through the story, there was always a feeling that he might not be guilty and that he would be found innocent.  I certainly will not give away any answers to those ponderings.  Landay’s novel, “Defending Jacob”, keeps you involved and wondering.  It is a good read.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being great, I give “Defending Jacob” a 4

“Defending Jacob” 

by William Landay

Delacorte Press

2012

ISBN  9780385344227

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