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Defending Jacob: A Novel Audiobook, by William Landay Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: William Landay Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9781483059952
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Andy Barber has served as a district attorney for over two decades. Respected by the community, and unrelenting in the courtroom, he seems to be a happy family man too. This could all change when a shocking murder tears apart their small New England community. The fact that blindsides them all: Andy's fourteen year old boy Jacob is the alleged killer of a fellow student.

With every natural inclination to guard his son, and with Jacob's insistence of innocence, Andy wants to believe with every fiber of his fatherly being that it is true. But there are facts which surface that may not be able to shield the truth from Andy, or how little he understands of his son. The trial Andy faces become much bigger than the courtroom as Andy's own past, and his child's future seem inseparable and inconceivable.

Where does loyalty and justice draw the line? This novel of a family in crisis blended with the suspense of a true crime thriller will move audiences to the core as they follow the betrayals and the bewilderment which cause lives to spin out of control.

William Landay was born in 1963 in Boston Massachusetts. He is a novelist. Attending Yale University and Boston College Law, he first served for eight years as an attorney, before becoming a writer. The genres he writes for are crime, mystery, and thriller. Defending Jacob was awarded the Goodreads Choice for Best Mystery and Thriller and for Best Author.

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, and as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control. 

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Quotes & Awards

  • “William Landay makes bold use of his genuine storytelling gift, his amazing ability to craft believable dialogue, and, above all, an extraordinary understanding of what it means to be a husband and father to present us with an unforgettable tale of an ordinary marriage and family in crisis…On the surface this novel reads like a first-rate thriller, but at its heart it’s a love story.  It’s the story of a man who adores his wife and child, but more than that, it’s a novel that describes the fine edge between love and madness and the lies we sometimes tell ourselves. Landay has proven himself to be an extraordinary writer, and Defending Jacob is an amazing novel. Do yourself a favor and read it. It’s that good.”

    Nicholas Sparks, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • Defending Jacob is smart, sophisticated—and suspenseful on more levels than one.”

    Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “Powerful…Leaves you gasping breathlessly at each shocking revelation.”

    Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “A stunning novel that will be compared to classic courtroom thrillers like Presumed Innocent and Anatomy of a Murder.”

    Phillip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Brilliantly conceived…Combines a harrowing family drama with riveting courtroom scenes that make readers feel they are actually witnessing the trial unfold.”

    Stephen Frey, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Seamless and sensational…This has got to be one of the best novels of the year.”

    John Lutz, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Powerful, disturbing, complex, and gripping, Defending Jacob is also impossible to put down. William Landay is a stunning talent.”

    Carla Neggers, New York Times bestselling author

  • “A page-turning, stomach-clenching exploration of family.”

    Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author

  • “A novel like this comes along maybe once a decade. William Landay’s Defending Jacob is a tour de force, a full-blooded legal thriller about a murder trial and the way it shatters a family. With its relentless suspense, mesmerizing prose, and a shocking twist at the end, it’s every bit as good as Scott Turow’s great Presumed Innocent. But also something more: an indelible domestic drama that calls to mind Ordinary People and We Need to Talk About Kevin. A spellbinding and unforgettable literary crime novel.”

    Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author

  • “An unflinching appraisal of the darkest, most poignant consequences of the love that binds, and blinds, families. Defending Jacob is one of those rare books that call for contemplation and insight along with every breathtaking surprise.”

    Stephen White, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Riveting, suspenseful, and emotionally searing.”

    Linwood Barclay, internationally bestselling author

  • “There are two types of suspense that run through Defending Jacob, a courtroom drama that hinges on the murder of a high school boy. The first comes from trying to guess who killed him. The second comes from wondering whether this book’s author, William Landay, a former district attorney with two well-received novels behind him, has developed the chops to catapult himself into the Scott Turow tier of legal-eagle blockbuster writers. The jury stays out until this book’s very last words…A clever blend of legal thriller and issue-oriented family implosion…Ingenious.”

    New York Times

  • “Grover Gardner does an excellent job reading the audiobook. He captures the insolence and dignity of Andy’s dysfunctional father, Laurie’s hopelessness, and Andy’s determination to exonerate Jacob. Recommended for legal thriller fans.”

    Library Journal

  • “Gardner’s performance is well wrought and subtle…In the end, this is a thoroughly engaging story of family and legal drama, made all the more so by Gardner’s skillful depiction.”


  • “Landay spins a tale of such complexity and emotion that you don’t even realize you’re spiraling deep into his world until he spits you out at his shocking, shattering conclusion.”

    Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here

  • “A carefully plotted and precisely written thriller about a family put to the ultimate test…Propelled by an ongoing courtroom drama and with a neat final twist, Defending Jacob is bound to enthrall.”

    Thomas H. Cook, author of The Quest for Anna Klein

  • “Harrowing…Landay, a former DA, mixes gritty court reporting with Andy’s painful confrontation with himself, forcing readers willy-nilly to realize the end is never the end when, as Landay claims, the line between truth and justice has become so indistinct as to appear imaginary. This searing narrative proves the ancient Greek tragedians were right: the worst punishment is not death but living with what you—knowingly or unknowingly—have done.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Defending Jacob centers on a father's worst nightmare, to find his fourteen-year-old son charged with the murder of a classmate...Defending Jacob made my courtroom thriller loving heart sing for joy, a well written, deftly plotted legal tale that was full of hidden depths. Fans of crime fiction, even if not particularly legal thriller fans, should not miss this utterly enthralling novel…Gardner has this wonderful voice that is just suited for first person narratives. He almost sounds like your favorite uncle, the one who always has the best stories to tell you. You become so used to his voice, one that has a unique quality to it, that, especially in first person tales, it takes you a while to realize just how well he is voicing the peripheral characters…I think one of the hardest things for a narrator to do is have authentic sounding dialogue between two characters, and here it was like I was listening to a masters class on how to do it…Grade: A.”

    Bob Reiss/The Guilded Earlobe

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A Library Journal bestseller
  • A Washington Post bestseller
  • Selected for the February 2012 Indie Next List
  • A USA Today bestseller
  • The #2 2012 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, February 2012
  • A Barnes & Noble Recommends Selection
  • One of 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: Thrillers
  • A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Mystery/Suspense
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012
  • A 2012 iTunes Best Audiobook: Mysteries and Thrillers
  • Finalist for the 2012 Hammett Prize
  • A 2013 International Thriller Writers Award Finalist for Best Hardcover Novel
  • Finalist for the 2013 Barry Award for Best Novel

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 2/11/2014

    " I've recommended this book to my friends. A unique means to reflect on the twist of being loyal to both family and job. Landay does a great job of bringing the "beyond a reasonable doubt" in play with this view of family, friends, and overpowering love based on blood ties. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruth | 2/10/2014

    " Haunting book for a mother to read.....still thinking about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sherman | 2/5/2014

    " Slow moving. Does not make logical sense. Character reactions do not match their backgrounds and education attainments. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gail | 1/31/2014

    " Made me really think about how far I would go to save my child under severe circumstances. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Naida | 1/29/2014

    " How far will you draw the line? Sometimes, we will go as far as we can to refuse acknowledging the truth even though truth is standing right in front of us. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christa | 1/19/2014

    " I really enjoyed the book. I do agree with another reviewer that there was too much foreshadowing coming from Andy's narration of the story but it was still an entertaining easy read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elaine | 1/7/2014

    " I thought this was an excellent read. When the son of a district attorney is accused of murder, the family fragments. A bizarre turn of events ensures that Jacob is cleared, but just when you thought things were going to be okay, there's something waiting in the wings to surprise you. Full of twists and turns and a good look into the role of heredity to predict our behavior. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 1/4/2014

    " Couldn't put this book down. Good discussion book for book club. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 12/31/2013

    " Glad I didn't decide to skip this book because of a couple of low ratings. Author uses a rather unique style of story telling, but a great surprise ending (great for the reader, that is)! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Corrie | 12/31/2013

    " Loved the content - ending was either love it or hate. I was just ok with it bc the content and the story was so good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebekah | 12/30/2013

    " What is special about this book is the perspective of the father is inherently limited and you don't fully process that right away. It sneaks up on you. It is heart wrenching and disturbing and you can't put it down. It challenges you to wonder... If it were your child, what would YOU do? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenda | 12/25/2013

    " This story captivated me and I was sucked in to finding out who done it! I enjoyed the courtroom drama and the ending shocked the hell out of me!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy | 12/22/2013

    " Pretty good, not great "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Neena | 12/17/2013

    " I'm still trying to process the novel. As a whole, I thought it was fantastic - very exciting the whole way through. I was't shocked by the end - though I didn't know what was coming - and didn't love how the trial and novel ended. But can such a story really turn out well? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Colleen | 11/29/2013

    " Really fun read. Couldn't put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 11/15/2013

    " Lots of legal twists and turns. Very good read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 8/19/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. Although The story is hard to read at times it was very eye opening and thought provoking. We had a great discussion at our book club meeting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judy | 7/1/2013

    " This book is a page turner! I was immediately taken by the plot - and left thinking after I finished the book. Nature vs nurture, murder, family life and career all in one package. I highly recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annemarie | 5/26/2013

    " I read this a couple of weeks ago, but it has stayed with me. Do you ever truly know our kids? do we ever really know anyone? Can violent tenedencies be inherited? Scary questions, great book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shelly | 2/25/2013

    " I LOVED this book! So many twists and questions. Well written and inspires me to read more by the same author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katy | 2/14/2013

    " SO good! A book that is hard to put down until you're done! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barb | 1/7/2013

    " My BookClub choice for Jan. 2013. We talked all night about this book. Favorite. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gina | 12/25/2012

    " Would give this 3.5 if able. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richard | 9/8/2012

    " This review can now be seen at Shelf Inflicted! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stanley T. | 7/27/2012

    " First off, the ending of this book was a real shocker that totally caught me off guard. This was such a great and well-thought-out murder mystery. I'm really looking forward to checking out what else this author has written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin4465 | 7/7/2012

    " This wasn't a bad book but I can't give it more than 3 stars as the plot seemed especially outlandish to me. It just seemed unrealistic that a family could be so oblivious about their own son. Maybe I'm being unduly harsh but that kind of ruined it for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlotte | 6/19/2012

    " Good read. Compelling and disturbing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 J.C.22 | 6/7/2012

    " I enjoyed this book tremendously - such a great plot and skillful writing. I was hooked from beginning to the surprise finale. A 5 star-worthy book indeed! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 4/28/2012

    " Left you hanging until the end on who did it. Very disturbing ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen B.W. | 4/16/2012

    " I loved this book for the most part up until the ending which was a real disappointment. It sort of fell apart at that point for me. I found it very confusing and disjointed which was a shame since the rest of the book was so good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 A.D. | 3/26/2012

    " I'm a sucker for a good mystery/crime thriller and this one is a real winner. Excellent pacing, great characters and an incredibly well-written and fascinating story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bridgit | 3/7/2012

    " Super shocking ending. Not at all what I ever expected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff F. | 3/3/2012

    " Started off a bit slow but it didn't take long to really pick up and once it did, hoo-boy what a page turner (or virtual pages in my case since I went the audiobook route). The story was very enthralling and culminated in a very satisfying ending that was a real surprise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/21/2012

    " One of those stories where you try to guess who would least likely be guilty of something and who might do good. Looking forward to the discussion. "

About the Author

William Landay is the author of The Strangler, a Los Angeles Times Favorite Crime Book of the Year, and Mission Flats, winner of the Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for Best First Crime Novel and a Barry Award nominee. A former district attorney who holds degrees from Yale and Boston College of Law, he lives in Boston.

About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over a thousand titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.