Defending Jacob is an a legal mystery novel. Author William Landay knows how to write. I was pulled along and kept wondering. Then he kind of twists and breaks off at the end… but I would give it away if I told you how it made me feel.
Negative Elements: some use of profanity, a couple of uses of the f-word and others scattered here and there. This goes with the adult nature of descriptions of the awful crime and some talk about some sexual things one of the suspects liked to engage in. Our protagonist also doesn’t have much faith in the justice system in America, which leaves us feeling slightly cynical and wondering if the court system is just a big game run by lawyers and is won by the people who play the best, not the ones who are innocent.
Positive Elements: This book left me thinking about people who were accused of crime. Even if they are let off the hook, we are always left with that doubt. The foundations of our world and our beliefs can be shaken with new information or convincing arguments. This has a lot of implications. The most obvious is that we think of people differently when they are accused of a crime, even if they are later shown to be innocent. The thought of the crime never quite leaves our mind. The second is that faith can be turned to doubt by convincing arguments, and a lot of times we need to look into things ourselves if we want to find the truth.
Bottom line: I would rate this book PG-18, just because of a bit of the language and some of the other elements. Landay is a good storyteller, and I think I was left with all the feelings and thoughts that he intended to leave me with. It took me on all the turns and climaxes a good story does take you on. It wasn’t a classic happy ending. But, in a way, crimes never should, because they don’t end happy. Regardless of how it happened or who they were, someone was still killed. But I don’t regret reading the book. It was well-written.