Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Defending Jacob" by William Landay

421 pages

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts for more than twenty years. He is respected in the community and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and teenage son, Jacob. Then a shocking crime rocks their small town: a fourteen-year-old boy has been stabbed to death on his way to school. Andy and Laurie are afraid for the safety of their son, just like all the other parents in the area. But when Jacob is charged with the murder, they are both completely astounded. For the first time, Andy finds himself on the other side--the defense--and he will stop at nothing to prove his son's innocence. 

This book does pretty much everything a good thriller is supposed to do. It kept me guessing. It freaked me out. It got my heart pounding. I really like the structure of the story. Throughout the book we get glimpses of the transcript from a future case, in which Andy is telling the story to a prosecutor but we're not exactly sure who's on trial, or for what. At the end--a very, very shocking conclusion that completely took me by surprise--it all comes together. In addition to the pure can't-put-it-down entertainment value, this book raises some moral dilemmas that are quite fascinating. How far can someone go to protect their child? Should our loyalties lie with the law or with our loved ones? How much of criminal behavior is nature as opposed to nurture? All interesting things to think about. I recommend this one for fans of John Grisham and other authors of legal thrillers...or any thrillers, for that matter.

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