Friday, May 18, 2012

Defending Jacob

by William Landay

It's been a while since I have ventured into the courtroom thriller of fiction, but years ago I read them pretty regularly. While reading Defending Jacob, I kept remembering Scott Turow's best-seller Presumed Innocent, probably because of the first-person narrative of the trial, the flashbacks relating the details and the extreme lengths undertaken trying to elicit a not guilty verdict from a jury.

Defending Jacob addresses some controversial ideas: bullying, the murder gene, the electronic age distancing of families and family responsibility to society. In this story, the 14-year old son of the town's lead district attorney is accused of murdering one of his classmates, turning the prosecutor into the defender. The father, Andy Barber will now go to any measure to prove his son innocent, even concealing inculpatory evidence. The author does a pretty good job detailing how this trial affects the family in all phases of the ordeal. He also presents some thought provoking concepts related to the idea that some people are born to kill or have an irresistible and uncontrollable propensity toward violence.

The story does tend to drag in some parts and is often repetitive. I had a hard time believing the son was only 14. I didn't think the language of the teens was well representative of that age group and I couldn't buy that the father was so clueless, given circumstances and his profession. Without giving anything away, I was not surprised by the ending... in case that is what the author was looking for.

Even so, it was a page turner and if you like courtroom suspense you'd probably enjoy this book.

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