Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Book Review: Defending Jacob - W. Landay

Is Jacob innocent or guilty? Is the father naive or not wanting to see or is it just me being cynical?
These are the questions that kept going through my mind while I was reading this novel.
The book is narrated from a father point of view, a lawyer, or better, a DA's first assistant, whose 14 years old son is charged with the murder of another teenager. There are transcriptions of the interview with the father as witness and also just a mere narration of the facts and investigation and thoughts of the father during the process.
It is a very interesting legal thriller, the investigation and the hearing are quite detailed and I am intrigued by the US court cases and the legal jargon.
The novel is also thought provoking from a parent point of view: do you really know what your kids have grown up into? do you just see in them the good parts and unconsciously discard the possible problems? As a parent, are you blind when it comes to your children's "imperfections"? And do you defend them no matter what?
It is quite scary to think that this is something that could happen to almost every "normal" family.
The novel is left quite open on the topic "genetic disposition to crime" and correlation between early childhood and potential psychological issues as teenager, so it leaves you to wonder and wonder, and I think you either start researching Google like a mad-person to find out how truthful all these inferences in the book are, or, like I decided to do, enjoy the book, finish it, close it and make the conscious decision of not thinking about the topic anymore. It could haunt you if not, to be honest.
What I did not like much about the book it is the writing style, too clinical and cold for my liking. I could not sympathies at all with the narrator because his words were so detached. I did not like him as a character at all, very self-centered, even with all his son is going through, he appears more worried about his own worries than of the son's or wife's for all that matter. I liked the wife a lot more, even if the descriptions of her are all coming from the husband, but she seems more "human" in a sense, not scared to show emotions or to have doubts. About Jacob, well, it is very difficult to have an opinion about him, as the only descriptions you have of him are distorted by his dad possible blindness, the attorney and witnesses words and his mother's silent observations.
Unexpected end, I thought "something" was going to happen to make the end surprising, but I would not have though about that one.
In my mind I immediatly compareed this book to We need to talk about Kevin, which was also the shocking story of a teenager and his family. In the comparison, Kevin wins, but overall Defenidng Jacob is a good read.

Overall rating: 6    Plot: 7   Writing style: 5    Cover:  2 

Title:Defending Jacob
Author: William Landay
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 512
Publication year: 2013

Andy Barber's job is to put killers behind bars. And when a boy from his son Jacob's school is found stabbed to death, Andy is doubly determined to find and prosecute the perpetrator.Until a crucial piece of evidence turns up linking Jacob to the murder. And suddenly Andy and his wife find their son accused of being a cold-blooded killer.In the face of every parent's worst nightmare, they will do anything to defend their child. Because, deep down, they know him better than anyone.Don't they?

The Author:
William Landay was an assistant district attorney before he turned to writing. He is the author of two previous novels, Mission Flats and The Strangler. He lives in Boston with his family.

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