Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 432
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5


Andy Barber is a well-respected assistant district attorney, husband and father. When a teen age boy is found killed in a park, Andy is determined to find the murderer and restore the security of his town. He never would have guessed how this case would play out, and change his life forever. As Andy begins to investigate the case, students are hesitant to answer any questions. When students begin to hint that Andy needs to speak with his own son, Andy has no idea why. When shocking Facebook comments and a large knife are found in Jacob’s room, Andy still believes that he is innocent. Andy’s first instinct is to protect his son, but the evidence is piling up and Andy must face facts.


I don’t read a lot of legal thrillers, but this one sounded like a great read. Overall, I really enjoyed the storyline and the struggles each character faced. I thought the story was well planned, and well executed. Jacob is tried as an adult, and his father desperately wants to believe that his son is innocent. His instinct as a father overpowers his instincts as a district attorney. The community has already made their decision, and they do not need a verdict to determine that Jacob is guilty.

Defending Jacob is an emotional roller-coaster. Andy’s defense mechanism is understandable and relatable. How can his son commit murder? He doesn’t think it’s possible, and ignores what is right in front of him. While Jacob is not a likable, relatable character, readers will find themselves empathetic to Andy. He was completely blindsided by the accusation, and vows to protect his son.

The only problem I had with the book was the question of “bad blood.” The idea that Andy’s father and grandfather had committed murder, and for that reason Jacob’s blood was tainted was really unbelievable and unrealistic to me. Overall, the book was very interesting. I think it was a great legal thriller, and I’m willing to explore this genre a little more. It did tend to drag in certain parts, but I was easily caught up in the story.


  1. I agree - I would have liked it better without the bad blood business!

  2. All the ladies in my yoga class are reading this one right now, and I have the audio out from the library. It sounds excellent, and I am wondering when I am going to find the time to read it. This was a particularly excellent review, and now it makes me want to pick this one up even sooner!

  3. I do not read a lot of legal thrillers either but this one does sounds interesting- great review!

  4. Hm. The concept of "bad blood" would be a bit difficult for me to swallow as well considering Andy has the same blood and was able to refrain from killing anyone. Still, it sounds like an intense read and it's good that you were able to relate to Andy and his vows to protect his son:)

  5. So glad to see a review for this one because I've been wondering about it. Sounds like a great thriller. I actually find the thought of bad blood fascinating though I guess it would depend on how it's presented in the novel. One of my favorite movies (The Bad Seed) is based on this concept. Overall sounds like a pretty good read.

  6. I used to be a big legal thriller reader then just sort of moved on. Every now and then I think about going back. Maybe this is the one to lure me back.

  7. A friend of mine has raved over this book. I don't know that the bad blood part would bother me - my mom talks about the way people used that phrase in the past.

  8. "While Jacob is not a likable, relatable character, readers will find themselves empathetic to Andy." <-- I probably will! Just from the way you describe him, I already know Andy will be a character I can relate to! If it was my sister or someone I loved who was accused of murder, I'd definitely go out of my way to prove their innocence too!

    Amazing review, Mrs. Q! For a legal thriller, this one sounds really intriguing! :)

  9. Ooh that thing about the bad blood would bother me too. But I do love legal thrillers and haven't read one in forever!

  10. I just read this one and plan a review soon! It was one of those 'can't put it down' reads! Great review!

  11. A friend of mine said this book knocked the wind out of her. Carl and I were walking the other day and saw a neighbor out on her front porch reading it. I really need to get to it soon.

    Irene Jennings of Personal Injury Attorney Alaska