I typically don’t read mystery/thriller and police procedurals are a far cry from my comfort zone, but Defending Jacob by William Landay was a book club read, so I bared my teeth and read on.
Andy Barber is a DA in Boston, Massachusetts. When the murder of a kid who goes to his son’s school is discovered, Andy is the attorney in charge of the case. Shortly after starting the investigation, however, he is pulled off the case and asked to take leave because his son is the lead suspect in the case. What follows is the story of Andy and his family dealing with the investigation and trial of Jacob, Andy’s son.
The book is a police procedural from Andy’s perspective. The audience sees into the mind of a former DA and gets the nitty gritty on how court proceedings work, witnesses act, and justice is not always so just. If you enjoy Law and Order this may be right up your alley. The court details and testimony bored me for the most part. Personally, I enjoy police shows, but those only last an hour and aren’t as in depth as this book. It was certainly interesting to hear about how attorneys work their craft and seduce the jury, and about how evidence and testimony are used and misused. Interesting and frightening.
The ending to the book was a bang, but without any follow up, leaving the reader guessing what really happened. I wanted more and it just ended. After reading through pages of boring details about whether blood would spatter or just pool, I wanted a bit more information about the big events at the end.
Landay went to law school and his knowledge is put to good use in this book. Although I was not a fan of the plot of the novel, I found Landay’s scope and writing intriguing. The illusions to what would happen (“we didn’t know at that time…”) both annoyed and compelled me. I wanted to know what was coming, but I also hate those cheap tricks.
All in all, not my cup of tea. Although I felt it lacked a few more details at the rich parts and too many details at the mundane sections, the insight into a lawyer's mind was a different experience that I can see a lot of people enjoying.
Here are some read alikes:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Good Father by Noah Hawley
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver