Sunday, April 28, 2013

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending JacobDefending Jacob by William Landay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Andy Barber is Assistant District Attorney for a wealthy suburb of Boston. He’s a very successful attorney who sees the world in black and white, guilty and innocent – highly in control of his actions and emotions. He has a pretty great life with a wife he still adores and feels lucky to have and a 14 year old son. This is the narrator of this story and things are about to get very crazy in his life. He gets a call to the murder of a kid in his son Jacob’s class. And even though he is very involved in the case he is blindsided when after a few days, Jacob becomes the prime suspect and is arrested for the murder.

At this point the Barber’s world is turned topsy turvy. They are ostracized by the community that embraced them just the day before, and inside the house the comfort with each other is gone. There are lots of questions posed: Does our legal system really operate as innocent until proven guilty? Is violence hereditary? What is a parent’s culpability and responsibility when their child does something horrible? Because Andy has his emotions so firmly under control these dilemma’s are posed clearly and with due consideration while leaving the answers up to the reader.

To boil it down this is a compelling part legal part psychological thriller. It’s a page turner and the pacing is just right. The law “stuff” - strategy, procedure, characterizations - was really interesting and it made me wish my lawyer father (defense lawyer if you’re wondering:) were still around to discuss. I was a little disappointed in the manipulative ending but it’s easily forgiven because of all the goodness that has gone before. A worthwhile read.

So anybody else out there read and enjoyed and read and hated this one?  Who did you identify more with Andy or Lori?  What would you do in their situation?

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