Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Defending Jacob :A Review

Defending Jacob by William Landay is a real page turner! Faced with one of the worst possible scenarios...that their only child, Jacob, has been accused of murdering his bullying classmate...Andy and Laurie Barber struggle with losing not just all their friends but his career as district prosecuting attorney and hers as the ultimate suburban mom.

While Jacob is the titled character it is Andy whose story Landay tells. A man who, on the surface is a brilliant and successful prosecutor, is revealed to be quite vulnerable underneath. He struggles, not only with his son's guilt but also his own guilt over having possibly passed on to his son the "murder gene." The incident forces to the forefront a not-so-wonderful past that Andy has managed to conceal; a past which, in combination with Jacob's trial, threatens Andy's storybook marriage.

Defending Jacob is a crime thriller written with lyrical language not normally found in such fast-paced novels. It gives sensitive treatment to a close family not accustomed to being looked at under the microscopes of their upscale neighbors and friends. It gives a wrenching look inside a man who has lived a lie and been tortured by it. And, it gives an almost unbelievable and certainly horrific solution to the problem.

What Defending Jacob does not give us is much of a view inside the minds and hearts of Jacob or Laurie. It's a difficult task given the first person point of view which makes me think third person might have been more effective. My only other nit is that much of the narrative is repeated at one time or another throughout the story because of the frequent interjection of transcripts from the actual trial.

On the whole, however, it was a well-written, gripping story. I look forward to reading Landay's next work.

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