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Saturday, January 04, 2014

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay | LibraryThing

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay | LibraryThing:

Andy Barber is the chief ADA in a small town when one of the students at his son's school is found knifed to death.  When his son is charged with the murder, his world is upended. 

Andy makes every effort to protect his son.  He knows the system and that’s what scares him. “You imagine the courts are reliable, that wrong results are rare, and therefore I ought to have trusted the system.. . Here’s the dirty little secret:  The error rate in criminal verdicts is much higher than anyone imagines. Not just false negatives, the guilty criminals who get off scot-free–those errors we recognize and accept…The real surprise is the frequency of false positives, the innocent men found guilty. . .Our blind trust in the system is the product of ignorance and magical thinking, and there was no way I was going to trust my son’s fate to it.  Not because I believed he was guilty, I assure you, but precisely because he was innocent.” 
And there’s a long history of violence in Andy’s family.  The pressures on the family mount as *all* of their relationships bend and many break under the strain of the accusation.  Andy's father is in prison for murder.  Is there such a thing as a "violence gene"?   

Landay has written a very compelling story, nicely integrating current technology and how kids use it, that plays on every parents' fears.  Just how well do we know out children?  You get a real sense of the pressure on the family, the ostracizing by the community, and the doubt that creeps into the minds of the parents. 

First rate.  Great book for a discussion group of nature/nurture, parental responsibility, child relationships, the legal system, a host of things.

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