DEFENDING JACOB – William Landay (Reviewed by Ted Feit)

Is this novel a courtroom drama, a psychological study of a family, an
introspective study of a man, or is it about truth and justice?  Or
all of the above?  It’s hard to tell in this rambling book which
attempts to keep the reader in suspense and leaves much to the
imagination.

Andy Barber, the First Assistant DA in Newton, MA, is thee man who
faces the questions posed by the story and really doesn’t come to
grips with the essential problems raised.  His 14-year-old son is
accused of murdering a fellow student and goes to trial for Murder
One.  Did he or didn’t he?  Andy, who initially ran the original
investigation, does not believe his son is capable of doing the deed.
The effect of the pressures of the trial on Andy and his wife are
weakly described.  The courtroom drama is, to some extent, extremely
well done, but, for the most part, drawn out to a great degree.  And
the snideness of the comments about Andy’s replacement when he’s taken
off the case and during the trial are too often petty.

On the whole, the novel is an interesting presentation, but could have
been edited severely, especially the front end which drags on slowly
until the book picks up steam toward the middle.  It is no spoiler to
note that there is more than one surprise waiting for the reader at
the end, some attention-grabbing, others a little far-fetched.  That
said, it is an off-beat novel that is recommended.

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