DEFENDING JACOB by William Landay
Best of 2012
Kirkus Star

DEFENDING JACOB

KIRKUS REVIEW

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 was not the paragon of virtue he was made out to be, for he had a mean streak and had 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.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-34422-7
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2011




BEST FICTION OF 2012:

Fiction THE COVE by Ron Rash
by Ron Rash
Mystery BLOODLAND by Alan Glynn
by Alan Glynn
Fiction ACCIDENTS OF PROVIDENCE by Stacia M. Brown
by Stacia M. Brown
Fiction AMERICAN DERVISH by Ayad Akhtar
by Ayad Akhtar

MORE BY WILLIAM LANDAY

FictionTHE STRANGLER by William Landay
by William Landay
FictionMISSION FLATS by William Landay
by William Landay

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionTHE BOOK OF WHY by Nicholas Montemarano
by Nicholas Montemarano
MysteryBLOOD ON A SAINT by Anne Emery
by Anne Emery
FictionTIGERS IN RED WEATHER by Liza Klaussmann
by Liza Klaussmann