Written by: William Landay
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Published by: Blackstone Audio/ Delacorte Press January 2012
Length: 12 hours and 25 minutes /432 pages
Source: Free introductory download from Downpour
Defending Jacob was read by or listened to by many of my friends in 2012, and everyone told me how much they enjoyed it. Why it took me so long, I can’t really say…but I am so happy I listened to this one, it was a book I loved listening to….it kept me engaged and on edge.
Andy Barber is the assistant district attorney in suburban Massachusetts, comfortably married and the father of a fourteen year old son Jacob. He is well respected in his community. He shies away from the political games often seen in his office, and attempts to do his job well. When a local teen is found stabbed in the park Andy thinks of nothing of taking this case, high profile yes, but he believes he can best serve his community by prosecuting this crime. The victim is a also a student at the same school as his son. When his son becomes the number one suspect Andy is pulled off the case. While he is still a prosecutor, he thinks like an attorney and as a father, this unique perspective. The evidence is sketchy, there are suspects that slip under the radar, family secrets are revealed, and questions linger…is Jacob a murderer?
Landay takes us on a journey, the discovery of the body, the reactions of the students, parents, local community. The accusations, the arrest, the defense and the trial of Jacob, all told in the first person voice of Andy Barber. Immediately Andy defends his son, refuses to let anyone know if he has any doubts. When he shares deep dark family secrets with his wife and the attorney they hire to defend their son, he is opening up for the first time. He wonders how his past will impact his son. Landay’s detailed description of the law, the process of charging a suspect up to and including the trial is so precise and helpful to the reader that you are drawn in deeper and deeper into the story. The appointed district attorney is Neil Lajudice, a particularly nasty man wanting to prove his muster, to make a point , and also shame and hurt Andy Barber. There are few likable qualities of Neil. Andy’s wife Laurie is compliant and completely in shock as her family is falling apart around her. She is almost more victim than her accused son. She wants his name cleared, she wants their life back.
The audio production was very well done. The narration was nicely paced, the characters voices clearly definable and in every way professional. I really enjoyed this book, it did not drag or have superfluous information that didn’t add to the telling or the outcome of the book. There are twists and turns and surprises that I loved and literally gasped as I listened. I’ve given this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a thriller, and I think it would be a great choice for book club discussion. This is the first book I’ve read by Mr Landay. It is now available in paperback.