Reviews for Defending Jacob
AudioFile Reviews 2012 March
Grover Gardner narrates Landay's latest novel--about a 14-year-old boy who is accused of murder and who is the son of an assistant district attorney in a wealthy Boston suburb. Gardner's performance is well wrought and subtle as he works with the story's natural sense of emotion to ratchet up the tension until we just have to know: Is Jacob guilty or not? Gardner's vocal talents see more obvious use later in the story when some quirky characters crop up: the blue-collar mom from Quincy, the elderly Irishman with sketchy intentions. In the end, this is a thoroughly engaging story of family and legal drama, made all the more so by Gardner's skillful depiction. K.O. (c) AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
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.
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.
Library Journal Reviews 2012 May #2
Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber, his wife, Laurie, and their 14-year-old son, Jacob, are the stereotypical happy suburban family until the boy is accused of brutally murdering a classmate. During the suspenseful trial, Andy and Laurie discover how little they know their boy--and each other. VERDICT Grover Gardner does an excellent job reading the audiobook. He captures the insolence and dignity of Andy's dysfunctional father, Laurie's hopelessness, and Andy's determination to exonerate Jacob. Recommended for legal thriller fans. ["Skillful plotting and finely drawn characters result in a haunting story reminiscent of Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent," read the review of the New York Times best-selling Delacorte hc, LJ 12/11.--Ed.]--Ilka Gordon, Siegal Coll. of Judaic Studies Lib., Cleveland [Page 46]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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.
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.
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