Monday, July 23, 2012

Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay
Year: 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages:  351

Andy Barber is a well-respected assistant district attorney for a small Massachusetts county. The murder of a 14 year old boy shocks the privileged neighborhood that he lives in. But then Andy gets an even bigger shock when his own 14 year old son is charged with the murder. Andy immediately does what most any parent would do - rally to protect to his son despite the incriminating and mounting evidence against him. 

I quit reading legal thrillers a long time ago but I'd heard a lot of good stuff about this one and wanted to check it out. Most of the legal scenes in this book were just so-so but I do think Landay framed the story well and intricately wove the two courtroom cases together. 

What I did find more interesting and thought provoking were the personal ethical dilemmas that Andy Barber faced. First, there was the question of how far would a parent go to protect his child? On top of that, do you face the fact that your child might be guilty and let the legal system do it's thing? Or do you fight for your child's freedom with every breath you have? 

The second ethical dilemma involved a "murder gene." This theory proposes that there are people who are predisposed to committing murder and, thus, they may not be able to prevent their actions. This would make the gene a mitigating factor in the person's defense and perhaps reduce their sentence. A bit of the nature vs. nurture argument. This part of the story was reminiscent of a Jodi Picoult book; however, without all the tears that Picoult invokes. 

Even though I wasn't too keen on all the courtroom stuff, I still think this was a pretty good read.


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