“The best crime-and-courtroom drama in years.”
— Stephen King

Jump to UK reviews ↓

  • Defending Jacob soars as Landay’s rich plot weaves in parenting skills, unconditional love and the law. Landay’s previous award-winning two novels, Mission Flats and The Strangler, established his talent; Defending Jacob shows how breathtaking Landay’s storytelling is.
    — Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel∞
  • “In the publicity material for William Landay’s Defending Jacob, its publisher and several advance readers liken the novel to Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, arguably the finest of American legal thrillers. The hype is justified.
    — Patrick Anderson, Washington Post∞
  • “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…. Ingenious.”
    — Janet Maslin, New York Times∞
  • “Landay’s two previous novels (Mission Flats, 2003, and The Strangler, 2007) were award winners, but he reaches a new level of excellence with this riveting, knock-your-socks-off legal thriller. With its masterfully crafted characterizations and dialogue, emotional depth, and frightening implications, the novel rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham. Don’t miss it.
    — Booklist (starred review)
  • “Parental devotion and its limits lie at the heart of this gripping, emotional murder saga…. The shocking ending will have readers pulling up their bedcovers to ward off the haunting chill.
    — People Magazine
  • “This novel has major motion picture written all over it.”
    — Hallie Ephron, Boston Globe∞
  • “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)∞
  • “How far would you go to protect your child? That’s the provocative question at the heart of William Landay’s gripping new thriller, Defending Jacob … Like John Grisham and Scott Turow, Landay is a lawyer with a solid grasp of how to use courtroom scenes to advance his jigsaw-puzzle story. … With a grabby premise and careful plotting, he keeps you turning the pages through the shocking gut-punch of an ending.”
    — Entertainment Weekly∞
  • “Do you like a mystery with a good twist at the end? How about one with the literary equivalent of skating’s triple axel?”
    — The Oregonian∞
  • “Landay has written a legal thriller that’s comparable to classics such as Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent.
    — Associated Press∞
  • “More than a first-rate courtroom drama, it’s a close-to-the-bone, shudder-inducing trauma study with a jaw-dropping, triple-whammy finale.”
    — Winnipeg Free Press∞
  • Brilliantly plotted, with great characters and an unforgettable ending.”
    — Margaret Cannon, Toronto Globe and Mail (Best Crime Novels of 2012)∞

Reviews from the UK

  • “Not since Scott Turow has a crime thriller — any thriller, though this too happens to be a literary legal thriller — shaken me by the throat like this. It’s a stunning, shocking, emotionally harrowing ride in which the reader is plunged into a riveting but terrible murder trial and the equally heartbreaking implosion of a loving family. I had to lie down when I finished it (all too soon) to still my beating heart…. What sets this apart from many thrillers are Landay’s remarkable storytelling skills which allow him to craft the most sensational twists without forfeiting belief. But it’s not just about suspense. Landay has written an unflinching account of the complexities of family and community life in a changing world.”
    — Daily Mail∞
  • “This is a legal thriller worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Turow’s masterpiece [Presumed Innocent].”
    — Marcel Berlins, The Times
  • “Word of mouth on a new novel is not always to be trusted, but sometimes a new book handsomely fulfils all the expectations. This is such a novel. Like Scott Turow, Landay is a lawyer who made his mark as a prosecutor before literary success beckoned. If Turow’s Presumed Innocent remains the definitive legal thriller, Defending Jacob is one of the most accomplished to have followed in its wake.
    — Daily Express∞
  • “Despite offering more ethical avenues for exploration than an entire series of The Moral Maze, Defending Jacob stays thrilling; the issues propel the twists and turns of the plot. Former lawyer Landay pinpoints the cheap shots and hard punches of legal sparring, but he also manages to capture the tribal intricacies and verbal ticks of teenagers’ parallel universe, the monotony of a family quarantined from the community and the doubts that plague parents. Landay nails it.
    — The Spectator Book Blog∞
  • “Anybody who has read Mission Flats or The Strangler will need no urging to pick up Defending Jacob by William Landay. An assistant deputy attorney, used to dealing with the aftermath of murder, needs all his nous — and nerve — when his son is implicated in the stabbing of a fellow student. Did he do it or not? Landay’s first legal thriller makes Scott Turow and John Grisham seem like amateurs.
    — London Evening Standard∞
  • Defending Jacob is a stunning piece of fiction and well deserving of every note of admiration received. I can’t remember the last time when I was so emotionally invested in the characters of a novel. This is a complex, multi-layered work of the highest quality … nothing short of hypnotic … This is not a book to race through. It is an intelligent, thought-provoking novel that sets off every parent’s concerns about violence, social media and our children. Defending Jacob will grab you by the throat and toss you aside, exhausted and emotionally wrung out after you read the last page and that final devastating twist. Can I give it more than a five, out of five? I would if I could. An amazing read!
    — CrimeSquad.com∞
  • “The third novel by US lawyer Bill Landay is a remarkable and emotional journey that puts this work right up at the apex of legal thrillers, rubbing shoulders with names such as Turow, Grisham and Michael Connelly, though it will reside in the reader’s mind like a broken dream with its startling dénouement.”
    — Shots Magazine∞