8 reviews 0 5 4.4 4 out of 5 stars 4.4/5

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Defending Jacob:

A Novel

  • Runtime: 12.4 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 1.31.2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio
  • Genre: Fiction/Mystery & Detective
  • 12.42 hrs1/31/2012Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9781470803520
8 reviews 0 5 4.4 4 out of 5 stars 4.4/5

Rating Distribution

  1. 9
  2. 7
  3. 2
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  5. 0
30 day rental Learn more

A New York Times Bestseller

An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012

The #2 2012 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction

A Barnes & Noble Recommends Selection

A USA Today Bestseller

A Washington Post Bestseller

A 2012 iTunes Best Audiobook: Mysteries and Thrillers

A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Mystery/Suspense

A Library Journal Bestseller

One of 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: Thrillers

Finalist for the 2012 Hammett Prize

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, February 2012

A 2013 International Thriller Writers Award Finalist for Best Hardcover Novel

Selected for the February 2012 Indie Next List

Finalist for the 2013 Barry Award for Best Novel

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. 

Editorial Reviews

“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

8 reviews 0 5 4.4 4 out of 5 stars 4.4/5

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8 out of 8 (100%) recommend this product

Write a review
    • 5/5

    I'm still trying to catch my breath

    DND May 20, 2015
    This is one of those rare novels that leaves you completely breathless at the end. I became so enthralled in this I couldn’t put it down. Curve ball after curve ball is being thrown. William Landay did such a marvelous job with giving away just a little bit, just enough to tickle your brain, and then quickly moves on. The pieces start to fall into place throughout the entire novel. Just absolutely wonderful. Grover Gardner did a wonderful job capturing Andy Barber’s voice. His narration was at the perfect pace, slow enough to let the ideas sink in, but not slow enough to let you catch your breath. This book will stay with me for a long time
    No 0 | Yes 0
    • 4/5

    Courtroom Drama? Mystery? Psychological fiction? Yes to all three...

    Lauren M July 1, 2014
    This book is a fantastic mix of courtroom, family, mystery, and psychological drama. Teasers and clues are peppered throughout, keeping you just a bit off-balance as it moves toward a final revelation. The pace is painfully steady, revealing nothing too quickly, and the slow character development ensures you’re never fully sure who anyone really is – definitely a recipe for a compulsive read! It’s not hard to see why this book received so much acclaim and attention – it was nearly impossible to put down and only enhanced by the excellent audio narration. Highly recommend!
    No 0 | Yes 0
    • 5/5


    AnandaRyan November 4, 2013
    A great book, very interesting for people that like murder mysteries and courtroom dramas. You can't beat Grover Gardner's narration.
    No 0 | Yes 0
    • 5/5


    Benjamin-Blue December 14, 2012
    Great Book in general. I cannot say enough about this Grover Gardner, he is just amazing!
    No 0 | Yes 0
    • 4/5

    Courtroom drama for the ears.

    Keith December 13, 2012
    Despite rarely reading mystery & suspense novels, this was quite a good listen. You immediately notice the details to how personal the subject matter is. The characters are believable, and you cannot help but empathize what they go through, as some of it will hit home with all listeners. Grover Gardner's voice is a great fit with this book, and hits all the right undertones and inflections needed to keep this story in your mind long after its finished.
    No 0 | Yes 0

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Book Trailer

Book Trailer

Author Biography

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.

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Reader Biography

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred 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.

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