The story, narrated by Andy Barber, assistant DA, revolves around the murder of a young man, a classmate of Barber's son, Jacob. Andy is a loving father and a great lawyer and eventually both those attributes are called into question as his son is arrested for the boy's murder. This is a precise look at what can happen to a family when they are pushed to the brink of despair. Defending Jacob is filled with plot twists and interesting character portrayals. Landay is a former District Attorney himself so the courtroom drama and lawyer speak is accurate and intense.
"Worse, the eighth graders at the McCormick were not especially competent liars. Some of them, the more shameless ones, seemed to believe that the way to pass off a lie convincingly was to oversell it. So, when they got ready to tell a particularly tall one, they would stop all the foot-shuffling and y'knows, and deliver the lie with maximum conviction. It was as if they had read a manual on behaviors associated with honestly-eye contact! firm voice!-and were determined to display them all at once, like peacocks fanning their tail feathers." (48-49)
If you are looking for a great crime story Landay's book is definitely worth reading. It would make a great Father's Day gift for a mystery buff.
Dominick helps his mother track down his wayward father whether the father is out drinking or sleeping it off with a trail of women. Dominick gets caught up with one of his father's cast-off girlfriends, Edie, and his life is forever changed as he turns his back on the mother that needs him. His chance encounter with Jeanny, a young protestor for change, pulls him back to earth as he struggles with the direction his life has taken. Sexual explicit details make it not for everyone but fit with Dominick's experiences.
"I peeled back the rug where I had been skimming money for the last two months. Ever since the radiator broke, most of the usual smells of our apartment-canned food, cooked beef, furniture polish-had been muted. But beneath the rug the musty earth scent was as strong as ever. I grabbed three stiff hundred-dollar bills and shoved them into the pocket of my sweatshirt. 'Just a few Bennies,' I said under my breath, thinking it sounded cool." (51)
Both stories feature young men as they struggle through rough times. Boy Still Missing is told from Dominick's point-of-view and Defending Jacob is shared from his father's narration. Both have unexpected surprises in store for the reader.