Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Family Nightmare: Defending Jacob


First District Attorney, Andy Barber's, fourteen-year-old son, Jacob is accused of murdering a classmate. Whether he's guilty or not, the arrest throws a once happy family into chaos. The big question for the parents is: Did he do it? Andy is convinced, almost unbelievably at times, that his son is innocent. Laurie, the mother, isn't so sure. She remembers problems from Jacob's early childhood that Andy refuses to believe signify anything. When Andy is finally forced to confess that his father, Bloody Billy, is in prison for murder, Laurie's world collapses.

The opening of this book was completely enthralling. We are in Andy's head and against all logic he simply won't confront the idea that Jacob could be guilty. However, the book is very long and after awhile this complete lack of questioning begins to wear. It feels unreal.

The legal background is interesting and generally well done. However, I found the transcript portions of the grand jury testimony unrealistic. Andy, the witness, seems to be playing the role of the judge when he calls the Assistant District Attorney by his first name and asks him to restate questions. I found it hard to believe that the judge in a real grand jury investigation would have allowed the obvious animosity to go on.

I liked the book and enjoyed reading it. The opening portray of Andy draws you in. However, as the book drags on the author seems to have trouble sustaining the head in the sand portrayal of Andy. I think perhaps because the book is so long, the twist at the end didn't feel real. It seemed like a literary artifice. However, the book is well worth reading if you like unusual character portrayals and court room drama.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.