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Crime & Beyond met on Monday to discuss Defending Jacob by William Landay. It was quite an interesting discussion and we had some people who really liked it, some who really didn’t and others who just weren’t interested & didn’t much care. Of the 14 people who attended and the 2 that “phoned” in their votes – the average score was 5.9, with a high of 8 and low of 2.

KimsSnack

Kim's Snack

Lorraine did an excellent job of leading the discussion and giving us some background on the author, since he is new to us (and most likely won’t be making a return to our reading list based on the discussion). Defending Jacob is his third book and he says he plans on writing something like 25 more (much to Dave’s disappointment). He is a former ADA, and clearly draws from that career when writing Jacob. Although the book is not autobiographical, the author does have 2 small children (boys I think) and perhaps came up with the idea while contemplating how to determine if they would grow up to be good or bad. Lorraine did such a good job of researching the author that when I went online to try and verify the above facts that I forgot to take notes on, I couldn’t find them. Clearly she did some fancy Internet footwork when she found these items. Lorraine, next time hacking into the author’s Facebook account is NOT allowed. It’s too hard for me to retrace your footsteps to verify facts, as my hacking skills are limited to non-existent.

Online Defending Jacob is compared to Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent, and I think this fact turned some people off. It is very courtroom drama-like and where this appealed to some, it didn’t to others.

Since the book was more of a novel than a straight out mystery like we normally read, many of the comments were very insightful and really looked into the story in more depth than just whodunnit (appearing Sundays at 9pm on ABC). Jeff brought up the whole family dynamic and behind the scenes info we got. He found it interesting that we were able to see the courtroom from the other side, the side of the people who were on trial and how it affected their lives. The little things we don’t normally read about, like how they couldn’t go to the grocery store without being attacked, etc.

Linda was reminded of the movie The Bad Seed and someone else mentioned the movie The Kid, starring Bruce Willis. Both worthy of a looky loo to see why (speaking of Lucy Liu, Elementary appears on CBS, new shows this fall). Many of us liked the twists involved in the book, and for the most part didn’t see them coming. Some felt Daisy’d when the family went to Jamaica (newbies see below on definition of “Daisy’d”). It seemed just a way for the author to insert a missing girl & make Jacob seem more guilty.

We discussed Jacob in depth and whether or not he had feelings. Some thought no, he was a straight forward sociopath, & others thought yes. Roxanne with 2 n’s mentioned how the two women in the book (the Mom and the therapist) seemed to want to deal with the problem in one way, while the two men (Andy and Bloody Billy Barber) wanted to fix it in a completely different way. Both were kind of stereotypical to men and women and how they go about dealing with problems and it was interesting.

Jeff pointed out at the end that we really never find out if Jacob is guilty. We can infer given the evidence, but as Sharon said – if she were on a jury she would most likely not be able to convict based on the evidence, even though she personally thinks he did it. I think this was intentional on the author’s part. The overwhelming majority seemed to think Jacob was guilty, but Jeff is correct in that the author never gives us anything to confirm that.

The slap vote went to Andy (4 votes), but the mother got 3 votes and the author 2, so it was close. I think Andy got the vote because he was in such denial. Most of us agreed on that fact. It was interesting that he worked the system in his day job when he was a prosecutor, and then did the same in his personal life when he threw away the knife so there would be no evidence.

Some people didn’t think that crashing the car was true to the mom’s character in the book. Others thought that throwing away the knife wasn’t true to the Dad’s character.

William Landay’s previous novels are Mission Flats and The Strangler, and some people are even planning on reading them. Dave is not one of those people.

To be Daisy’d: This happens when an author inserts a scene, a character, or a situation for the sole purpose of facilitating another action in the book. The other members will have to help me remember what book started the whole thing. It was either a John Sandford or a Stuart Woods book. The characters were on a trip far from home and investigating a crime when the main character/woman was kidnapped. Her parents/relatives came out to the scene, but not before they, on a whim, went to the vet to pick up the kidnapped woman’s dog Daisy. (What vet would even release a dog to someone other than the owner without written consent is beyond me.) Lo and behold if Daisy didn’t sniff out his master and find her where the kidnapper was keeping her hidden on the island. Hence, the author inserted a strange event, the picking up of the dog at the vet to bring her, in order to facilitate the finding of the kidnapped woman. (See also Daisy.)

Next month we will meet on July 22 to discuss Victims by Jonathan Kellerman, Alex Delaware #27 – so everyone go out and read 1-26 and fast. It appears that I will be leading and snacks will be provided by Pat or Amy (I’m still working that out). Needless to say, there will be a leader and there will be snacks. Nuff said.

As always, as soon as you're done reading your copy - run, don't walk, to the library and give it to a librarian for the book club shelf. Then let me or the entire list know there is a copy available. There were very few copies to pass out, so we'll need to share.

Until July,

Kerry

And one last thing, In Memoriam: Vincent "Vince" Flynn was an American author of political thriller novels. He also served as a story consultant for the fifth season of the 24 television series. He died on June 19, 2013, after a three-year battle with prostate cancer. He will be missed by more than one member of the club who loved his work.

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