Defending Jacob is a novel that comes to you out of the blue and manages to keep you reading feverishly until the whole thing is completed. It is written by William Landay, a former District Attorney who also has hidden skills as a writer. It helps that he knows his way around a courtroom and is familiar with the nuances of the law for this gives the book believability and it is needed.
The plot of the story is a complicated one. Andy Barber and his wife Laurie, and son Jacob, live in the small town of Newton, Mass. It is a very peaceful town and therefore it shatters the community when a young student is murdered in a park. Andy is brought in on the case even though the student attends the same school as Jacob. Later, Andy is stunned when Jacob is charged with the crime.
Andy never doubts his son's innocence and does everything in his power to help the attorney they have hired to represent Jacob prove it. He knows the ins and outs of the law and he is willing to use every legal trick in the book if necessary. It doesn't help that the attorney prosecuting the case is Andy's old nemesis Neal Logiudice. Logiudice has been in Andy's office and has competed with him over and over for cases. Now Neal is in the spotlight and ready to prove how much better he is than Andy ever was.
The book is primarily a legal thriller but it is also more than that. It is a testament to fatherhood and how intense the love can be between a parent and a child. Andy sees the entire town turn against his family and is helpless to make it stop. All he can do is cocoon them as much as possible in their home and keep the rest of the world at bay.
Not only does he have to keep them safe, he also has to keep them sane. His wife Laurie begins to question whether or not Jacob could have inherited some type of killer gene. This complicates her relationship with Jacob and also her relationship with her husband.
The story is a very intense one and also one that keeps the reader constantly guessing. At some point in time the reader thinks Jacob is possibly guilty, and at other times that he is totally innocent. There is also a long stretch of time where the reader just doesn't know. Learning what the truth is, is what keeps the reader pouring over every word, paragraph and page.
William Landay has written a stunning novel and it is one that should draw attention to the possibilities it raises. In the next few weeks, Defending Jacob is the novel most readers are going to be discussing.
Defending Jacob is published by Delacourte Press. It contains 432 pages and sells for $26.00.