Reviews for Defending Jacob


Booklist Reviews 2012 January #1
*Starred Review* A 14-year-old boy is stabbed to death in the park near his middle school in an upper-class Boston suburb, and Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber takes the case, despite the fact that his son, Jacob, was a classmate of the victim. But when the bloody fingerprint on the victim's clothes turns out to be Jacob's, Barber is off the case and out of his office, devoting himself solely to defending his son. Even Barber's never-before-disclosed heritage as the son and grandson of violent men who killed becomes potential courtroom fodder, raising the question of a "murder gene." Within the structure of a grand jury hearing a year after the murder, Landay gradually increases apprehension. As if peeling the layers of an onion, he raises personal and painful ethical issues pertaining to a parent's responsibilities to a child, to a family, and to society at large. Landay's two previous novels (Mission Flats, 2003; The Strangler, 2007) were award winners, but he reaches a new level of excellence in this riveting, knock-your-socks-off legal thriller. With its masterfully crafted characterizations and dialogue, emotional depth, and frightening implications, the novel rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Don't miss it. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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BookPage Reviews 2012 February
Atoning for sins of the past

You have to love a title like All I Did Was Shoot My Man, Walter Mosley’s latest work featuring pragmatic Big Apple P.I. Leonid McGill. Indeed, although Zella Grisham may have shot her man eight years before, she had nothing to do with the $58 million heist a week before the murder, despite the fact that some of the purloined loot turned up in her storage space. McGill knows exactly how the stolen funds found their way into Grisham’s possession, and it is a guilty secret that has eaten at him ever since she went to jail for both crimes. Now Grisham has done her time, and she wants to reconnect with the young daughter she hasn’t seen since she went to prison. Problem is, the girl has been adopted, and the adoptive parents seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. Re-enter Leonid McGill, P.I., to expiate some of his prior sins—pro bono. As is always the case with Mosley novels, All I Did Was Shoot My Man bridges the broad river between genre fiction and elegant literature, combining the best elements of both: gritty first person narrative; complex familial relationships; and themes of greed, revenge and the things we do for love.

THE LIFE OF A LAWMAN
Stetson-brimmed U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, the eponymous hero of Elmore Leonard’s Raylan, hails from Harlan County, Kentucky—which was coal-mining country back in the day. Now that the mines have shut down, many of the locals have turned to marijuana for their source of income. A few have taken a more deviant path—the harvesting and sale of human organs—and nobody’s organs are safe, not even Raylan’s. The tale unfolds in true Leonard fashion. It’s not so much a story with a beginning, a denouement and a resolution, but rather a snapshot of a few days in the life of a lawman. Included therein are many storylines which might connect—or not; a plot resolution or two firmly planted in the middle of the narrative; and the droll commentary of both the author and his chief characters. (When challenged to a parking lot fight, Raylan responds: “You don’t see me right away, practice falling down until I get there.”) As usual, Leonard’s story is part Western, mystery and farce—a genre-transcending romp guaranteed to please new readers and long-time fans alike.

CHAOS IN CAIRO
Although there are many suspense novels set in ancient Egypt, it is uncommon to find a mystery set in modern-day Cairo, especially one like Parker Bilal’s The Golden Scales, in which the detective protagonist is a displaced police inspector on the lam from war-torn Sudan. Hired by corrupt entrepreneur Saad Hanafi to find missing soccer star Adil Romario, P.I. Makana is plunged into a world of Russian gangsters, jihadists and the machinations of Cairo’s power elite. At the center of this desert whirlwind is a desperate English mom, back in the Egyptian capital after years of enforced exile, seeking any sort of information on the fate of her missing daughter, by now a young woman. When the Englishwoman is brutally murdered in her seedy hotel room, Makana is forced to confront his own ghosts in ways he could never have predicted. The first in a new series, The Golden Scales is one of those rare books in which the setting serves as a character itself: Cairo is portrayed as a living, breathing entity whose very existence shapes the lives of those residing within its confines.

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
What is a parent’s worst nightmare? The quick answer, I imagine, would be the loss of a child. Author William Landay takes the question one step further in his latest thriller, Defending Jacob. What if your child is accused of murder, and you think there is the slimmest possibility he might be guilty? Andy Barber, assistant D.A. for a suburban Massachusetts county, is a devoted family man. Raised in a broken home, he vowed early on to bring love and stability to his wife and son. For the most part, that plan has worked out pretty well. Except now, when a young neighbor lies dead in the nearby park, and Andy’s son Jacob looks good for the murder. The incontrovertible evidence: Jacob’s bloody fingerprint on the dead boy’s jacket. For perhaps the first time in his life, Andy finds himself “batting for the other team”—on the side of the defense rather than the prosecution. As his family crumbles under the pressure of the trial and its mounting evidence, Andy struggles to find a balance between objectivity and loyalty. All the while, there is this tiny nagging doubt . . . . Defending Jacob is one of the most disturbing books of the year, and soon to be one of the most talked-about.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 December #1
Landay does the seemingly impossible by coming up with a new wrinkle in the crowded subgenre of courtroom thrillers. Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber is called to a gruesome crime scene after Ben Rifkin, a 14-year-old boy, has been brutally stabbed in a city park. One suspect seems likely, a pedophile who lives nearby and is known to frequent the park, but suspicion turns quickly to another, much more unlikely, suspect--Andy's son Jacob, one of Ben's classmates. It seems Ben is not the paragon of virtue he is made out to be, for he's got a mean streak and has been harassing Jacob...but is this a sufficient motive for a 14-year-old to commit murder? Some of Jacob's fellow students post messages on Facebook suggesting he's guilty of the crime, and Jacob also admits to having shown a "cool" knife to his friends. When Andy finds the knife, he quickly disposes of it, but even he's not sure if he does this because he suspects his son is innocent or because he suspects his son is guilty. Complicating the family dynamic is Laurie, Jacob's mother, who's at least half convinced that her son might indeed be capable of such a heinous act--and it turns out Andy has concealed his own past from Laurie because both his father and grandfather have been murderers, and he fears he may have both inherited and passed down to Jacob a gene associated with aggressive behavior in males. Landay is yet another lawyer-turned-writer, and it's inevitable that he'll be compared to Scott Turow, but this novel succeeds on its own merits. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2011 September #1

The publisher's big push for the season, this thriller stars Andy Barber, who's managed nicely for 20 years as assistant district attorney of his small Massachusetts county. Then comes a case that will truly slay him: his own son, Jacob, stands accused of murder. Landay's Mission Flats won the Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for Best First Novel; this book is being positioned as a breakout. With a national tour; watch to see if you'll need extras.

[Page 86]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Journal Reviews 2011 December #1

Andy Barber has been the top district attorney in his small, middle-class, Massachusetts town for 20 years. When a teenage boy is murdered, Andy focuses on a neighborhood pedophile as the chief suspect. There are concerns about a conflict of interest since Andy's teenage son, Jacob, attended the same school as the murdered boy and the investigation seems to be lagging. But after Jacob's best friend provides evidence against him, Jacob is arrested. Andy is taken off the case and suspended, but he is determined to prove his son's innocence. VERDICT This brilliant novel by the author of The Strangler and the award-winning Mission Flats is equal parts legal thriller and dysfunctional family saga, culminating in a shocking ending. Skillful plotting and finely drawn characters result in a haunting story reminiscent of Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]--Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., Boca Raton, FL

[Page 115]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 October #4

Andy Barber, a respected First Assistant DA who lives in Newton, Mass., with his gentle wife, Laurie, and their 14-year-old son, Jacob, must face the unthinkable in Dagger Award-winner Landay's harrowing third suspense novel. When Ben Rifkin, Jacob's classmate, is found stabbed to death in the woods, Internet accusations and incontrovertible evidence point to big, handsome Jacob. Andy's prosecutorial gut insists a child molester is the real killer, but as Jacob's trial proceeds and Andy's marriage crumbles under the forced revelation of old secrets, horror builds on horror toward a breathtakingly brutal outcome. Landay (The Strangler), a former DA, mixes gritty court reporting with Andy's painful confrontation with himself, forcing readers willy-nilly to realize the end is never the end when, as Landay claims, the line between truth and justice has become so indistinct as to appear imaginary. This searing narrative proves the ancient Greek tragedians were right: the worst punishment is not death but living with what you--knowingly or unknowingly--have done. Author tour. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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