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Friday, April 19, 2013

Defending Jacob: A Novel

Defending Jacob by William Landay is one of those books about which I heard a ton then picked it up after everyone already read it. I am OK with that--it's still a great read.

A young boy on his way to school is found murdered in a park one morning. Andy Barber is the district attorney assigned to the case. He follows protocol and finds a likely suspect--until the day he is brought into his boss's office and put on leave while the police arrest his own son for the murder. Andy believes his son to be innocent through and through, even as the evidence mounts against Jacob. As the case moves forward, Andy works side by side with Jacob's defense attorney in the trial of his lifetime. At what breaking point will Andy face the possible truth about his son, and will his family ever be the same?

This was a mind-bender of a crime story. I constantly went back and forth on whether or not Jacob was guilty, which I believe was the design of the narrative. This case is like many that go to trial--we may think we know the truth, but it is often a layered and impenetrable fortress of truth, lies, and everything else in between. Jacob's mother falters in her faith early on, and while it is easy to see why she believes her son to be a monster, it is equally easy to see Andy's devotion to his belief in the goodness of the child he created. Everything can be explained away with a bit of logic.

Once the trial ends (and I will not be giving away anything on this blog), the most mindblowing part of the book is still to come. The last 100 pages will give you the answer to every question you have during the book and will leave you with even more. It was one hell of an ending, and my jaw dropped as I raced through the last 10 pages.

You may think you know, but you have no idea. Pick it up for your summer reading.

Kindle version on the left, hard copy on the right:

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