Wednesday, May 02, 2012

First Wednesday Book Review Club: DEFENDING JACOB, William Landary


This is the story of prosecutor, Andy Barber, who's about to begin investigating the murder of his son's classmate when his fourteen-year old son is accused of the crime. Andy Barber is convinced a known pedophile in the town is guilty. There is some evidence to back him up.

But various issues complicate the arrest of this man. Facebook entries shows Jacob's classmates believe him guilty. Family history complicates things too. And Jacob himself has shown signs of violent behavior. Even his best friend is wary of him.

There are lots of twists and turns in DEFENDING JACOB. I am not a particular fan of courtroom novels and I grew somewhat weary of the pages of testimony here. Especially since two trials become part of the story. And I am also wary of using genetic explanations for behavior. Sociobiology both excuses bad behavior and condemns it as involuntary.

But this was a compelling read, with lots of twists and turns to keep the pages turning quickly. It had enough psychological underpinnings and believable family interplay to carry me along.


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11 comments:

Barrie said...

I'm on a mystery kick! this sounds right up my alley. Hey, I wonder what happened to your button?

Barrie said...

Weird, but the bit of code for the button clicks through to the March book reviews. so strange. I'll resend you this month's code by email. Then..I'm going to bed. yawn.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, I've heard such great things about this novel! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Dana King said...

I read Landay's THE STRANGLER, whihc was an excellent book. I'm interested in DEFENDED JACOB, though I see on Landay's web site Patrick Anderson on the Washington Post loves it. My experience with Anderson's recommendations is that he's a twit.

I'll continue to weigh the evidence.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It definitely has some depth to it. And it is a page turner. But I get really bored with court room testimony which becomes like show don't tell for me.

Rose said...

I saw this book on the bestseller list a few months ago and was intrigued enough to read it. I do enjoy courtroom dramas, but I have to agree the testimony here was a little dry. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I was disappointed in the ending. I won't give away the end in case someone else reads this comment, but I'm curious what you thought of the end.

Thanks for dropping by and visiting--I'm a little slow this morning, but finally got my review posted.

Ellen Booraem said...

It's been ages since I read a mystery, and this situation sounds pretty compelling. Might be a little put off by the courtroom scenes, from the sound of it. Thanks for such an even-handed review!

Scott Parker said...

It's on Audible, so, perhaps, the courtroom scenes play better in audio. Might throw a Perry Mason in the cue before/after this one.

Randy Johnson said...

I did enjoy this one as well.

Kent Morgan said...

While I enjoyed most of the book, Landay elected to take the story in a direction that made little sense to me and to make it worse follow it up with another plot twist that was unexpected. It's almost as if he took the book close to closure and then didn't know how to come up with a satisfactory conclusion.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I could buy the ending because it was clear the wife has problems with her son's behavior all along.
What I didn't like was the reliance on a genetic explanation for it all.
I hate to think we are at the mercy of our genes despite growing up in such a civilized household.