Defending Jacob is a novel by William Landay, a lawyer. The novel stands out due to its exceptional ability to create mystery and dilemma for the reader. In the book, Jacob, a teenager, is accused of the murder. His father, Andy, is a prosecutor, who initially considers his son incapable of such a crime. The murder is that of his son’s classmate. Andy arrives at the place where the murder has taken place with a possible suspect in his mind. However, the story takes an unexpected turn when his son claims to have found the body but kept quiet about it. He says that he did not want to risk being involved in a murder case, and that is why he did not report the incident (Landay 62). This is a special start for any book because it presents an inconceivable coincidence. Specifically, a prosecutor is handling a murder case in which his son is involved. Such beginning and the dilemmas that follow pose interesting and captivating arguments for the reader.
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This book manages to turn a sequence of unfortunate events into an interesting episode in the life of a small family. Clearly, there is a lot of creativity in the story. Another unfortunate turn is that when Jacob is arrested because his classmate gave incriminating testimony against him, a vengeful prosecutor is assigned to the case. Furthermore, Andy’s career is in danger, while his wife is drifting into an emotional breakdown (Landay 205). Mystery dominates the story when a dark secret about Andy’s family surfaces. The particular secret is that Andy’s lineage is made up of murderers. It now seems plausible that Jacob killed his classmate. The reader keeps on debating on whether Jacob committed the murder or not.
The abstract nature of the plot of the novel emerges because the reader is hesitating between the emotions that accompany the predicament of Andy and his family, and the chances that Jacob could kill his classmate. One thing about the novel is that it has many unlikely coincidences. It is a test of the morality of the reader and the capacity to reason impartially under emotional pressure. This aspect of the novel makes the reader be willing to examine the events in the story more carefully. Given the string of murders associated with Andy’s family, it seems that he has no moral foothold in the argument. This forces Andy to look for an alternative action instead of giving in.
Andy seeks to put forward another interesting argument that his son could have committed the murder because he feels that the facts in the murder case seem incontrovertible. He plans to confront the case through another argument rather than direct denial. In this essence, he wants to propose that Jacob committed the murder against his will (Landay 350). He plans to argue on a scientific basis of genetic inheritance. However, this does not necessarily mean that Jacob is innocent. The dilemma created by this part of the novel leaves the reader guessing whether it would be a clever move by Andy to argue from that perspective.
Although the story is actually melancholic, the plot is captivating and the reader keeps on reading the novel solely because of the moral dilemmas that the case presents. Moreover, the author chooses to use the appalling situation in the family to present abstract reasoning. The mystery of the inherited murder genes draws a thin line between motive and compulsion. Coincidence and mystery compensate for the lack of suspense. Enigma is a quality any reader would want in any mystery story. This novel has everything to please any experienced novel reader.
Landay, William. Defending Jacob: a novel. New York: Delacorte Books, 2012. Print.