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Book Discussion Questions: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob book cover

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.

 

Title: Defending Jacob
Author: William Landay
Page Count: 421
Genre: Legal Thriller
Tone: Suspenseful, Disturbing

 

1.    Did you like Andy Barber as a character? What words would you use to describe him?

2.    Do you think he looked at Jacob in a realistic light?

3.    Do you think Laurie, Jacob’s mother, saw her son more clearly than her husband did?

4.    What words would you use to describe Laurie?

5.    What happened to Andy and Laurie’s relationship once Jacob was accused of murder?

6.    The title of the book is Defending Jacob…was Jacob the main character? If not, who was?

7.    Were there points of view that you wanted to hear more of? Is there any part of the story you wanted more of?

8.    Do you think Jacob murdered Ben Rifkin?

9.    Is Jacob a likeable boy?

10.    What was Dr. Vogel’s opinion of Jacob?

11.    What was Andy’s reaction to seeing Dr. Vogel vs. Laurie’s reaction?

12.    Do you think that Andy and Laurie were good parents?

13.    Do you think that Andy Barber should have been on the case since it involved the same school his son went to? Do you think there was a conflict of interest?

14.    Why did it take so long to interview the kids at Ben’s school? Were the kids helpful to the authorities?

15.    Jacob has two friends, Matt and Derek. How did each of them affect Jacob’s case? Did they both continue to be Jacob’s friend after the trial started?

16.    Why does Andy search Jacob’s room for the knife instead of asking Jacob if he had one? What did Andy do with the knife? Do you think he was obstructing justice? Would you have done the same?

17.    Later, Laurie does something with a different knife? What does she do and why? Would you have done the same?

18.    How far should a parent go to protect their child? Did Jacob need their protecting?

19.    It is learned that Jacob enjoys violent erotica. He wrote and posted an account very similar to Ben Rifkin’s murder on a violent erotic website. After learning this, could you still see Jacob in a neutral light? Why do you think he posted his story online?

20.    What dark facts about Jacob does Derek reveal to Andy when Andy visits the boy’s home? Why doesn’t Andy know or have noticed any of these facts before? Do you think Laurie knew?

21.    What was your opinion of Neal Logiudice (pronounced la-JOO-dis)?

22.    Do you think Andy’s view of Loguidice changed?

23.    What was your opinion of Jonathan Klein?

24.    Who do you think had the better opening statement in Jacob’s trial, Klein or Loguidice?

25.    Andy thinks Leonard Patz, a registered sex offender, killed Ben Rifkin. Why? Do you think Patz had anything to do with the murder?

26.    What ends up happening to Leonard Patz?

27.    What did you think of Bloody Bill Barber, Andy’s dad? Was he likable?

28.    What was outcome of Jacob’s trial? How did the Barbers celebrate? What went wrong while they were there? Does this prove anything about Jacob?

29.    If you believed that Jacob was a murderer…why do you think he was?

30.    Andy never told Laurie about his family’s violent history. Why? Would you have told if you were him? How did Laurie react to hearing about Andy’s past? What would your response have been?

31.    There is science examining a possible “warrior gene”. Do you think that nature could outweigh nurture in the development of a human being?

32.    What do you think of the structure of the book? Was it hard to follow?

33.    What did you think of the pace?

34.    Did you like the ending? Were you shocked by it? If you were the writer, what ending would you have chosen?

35.    Did Defending Jacob remind you of any other books? What books would you recommend to someone who liked this book? Why?

 

Other Resources:

William Landay’s website
Lit Lover’s book discussion questions
Authors at Google: William Landay
SeattlePI interview with William Landay
SeaCoastOnline review of Defending Jacob
The Washington Post review of Defending Jacob
Explaining “nature vs. nurture

 

If you liked Defending Jacob, try…

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
The Confession by John Grisham
The Good Father by Noah Hawley

Midwives book cover     Confession book coverGood Father book cover

By Readers' Advisor on June 26, 2013 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Ancient Treasures, Stolen Artifacts, and the Art World

Witch of Babylon book coverJohn Madison is an art dealer turned Indiana Jones. Madison is determined to locate the ancient artifact his brother died trying to find. The relic was looted from Iraq’s National Museum. What Madison doesn’t know is that it may contain the alchemic secret of turning metal into gold. Assisted by an archaeologist and a photojournalist – both of whom have their own dark secrets, John Madison races against the clock to unravel a revenge plot and biblical prophecy in D.J. McIntosh’s The Witch of Babylon. Fans of Raymond Khoury, James Rollins, and Clive Cussler will probably enjoy this first adventurous thriller in a projected series of three.

By Readers' Advisor on June 6, 2013 Categories: Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now

Buffalo Bill's Dead now book coverPam of Research Services recommends Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now by Margaret Coel:

The Arapaho of the Wind River Indian Reservation are the foundation of each book in Margaret’s Coel’s fast paced mystery series. The Arapaho serve as the conduit from the past to the present, as in this book’s focus on Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show. Buffalo Bill showcased the culture of America’s Native Americans, introduced the then dying Wild West to European audiences in London, Rome, Paris, and cities in Germany, and provided a peek into a world gone forever. Chief Black Hawk’s regalia, discovered in Europe, will be returned to Wind River after 120 years. Should artifacts be held by private collectors or preserved in their native land? Coel examines the past becoming the present in Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now.

By Readers' Advisor on June 3, 2013 Categories: All Staff Picks, Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Barb F.’s Pick: Immobility

Barb F. Staff picks photoJosef Horkai wakes up paralyzed after being frozen for 30 years and has no memories of his past or the “kollaps” that destroyed the world. Immobility by Brian Evenson is a postapocalyptic thriller about how to trust the motives of others when you can’t trust your own mind.

By Readers' Advisor on May 14, 2013 Categories: All Staff Picks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Picks by Barb F.

More Award-Winning Mysteries: The Agathas

Beautiful Mystery book coverWho knew May was so mysterious? Quick on the heels of the Edgars, Malice Domestic has announced the 2013 winners of the Agatha Awards, which honor traditional-style mysteries with no explicit sex, gore, or gratuitous violence. Louise Penny took home her fifth Best Novel Award in six years (!!) for the aptly titled The Beautiful Mystery. Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder won for Best Historical Novel. Need a dash of intrigue right away? You can read the winner for Best Short Story, “Mischief in Mesopotamia” by Dana Cameron, right here. Clue yourself in to puzzles Dame Agatha Christie would approve.

By Readers' Advisor on May 8, 2013 Categories: Awards, Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Joyce’s Pick: Evidence of Life

Joyce staff picks photoA camping trip, a flash flood, and Abby’s husband and daughter disappear. In her determined search for them, she is confronted with questions leaving her to wonder if she really knew her husband at all. Intrigued? Find the answers in Barbara Taylor Sissel’s new book Evidence of Life.

By Readers' Advisor on May 7, 2013 Categories: All Staff Picks, Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Picks by Joyce

Edgar Allan Poe Awards for Best Mysteries

Live by Night book cover

You don’t need a tell-tale heart to lead the way to good mysteries. This week the Mystery Writers of America crowned winners of the 2013 Edgar Awards, and the raven’s call includes intrigue in a variety of styles. Check these out:

Best Novel: Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
Best First Novel by an American Author: The Expats by Chris Pavone
Best Paperback Original: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Best Fact Crime: Midnight in Peking by Paul French
Best Critical/Biographical: The Scientific Sherlock Holmes by James O’Brien
Best Short Story: “The Unremarkable Heart” by Karen Slaughter (in Mystery Writers of America presents Vengeance)
Best Juvenile: The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo
Best Young Adult: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Best Television Episode Teleplay: “A Scandal in Belgravia,” Sherlock, teleplay by Stephen Moffat
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: “When They Are Done With Us” by Patricia Smith (in Staten Island Noir)
Mary Higgins Clark Award: The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

By Readers' Advisor on May 3, 2013 Categories: Awards, Books, Movies and Television, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

LISTS: If You Like Lilian Jackson Braun

Double Booked for Death book coverLilian Jackson Braun wrote cozy mysteries with laid-back pacing and a cast of colorful feline and human characters. If you’ve made your way through all of her “Cat Who…” series, how about trying something new?

Click here for authors similar to Lilian Jackson Braun.

By Readers' Advisor on Categories: Books, Lists, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Book Discussion Questions: The Hard Bounce

The Hard Bounce book cover

 

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.

 

Title: The Hard Bounce
Author: Todd Robinson
Page Count: 301
Genre: Mystery
Tone: Gritty, Darkly Humorous, Violent

 

1.    What did you think of “the Boy” as a character? Who was “the Boy” a part of? When did he appear in the story?

2.    Did this feel different than other mysteries you’ve read? Why or why not?

3.    What books does The Hard Bounce remind you of? Are there any writers that Todd Robinson reminds you of?

4.    Who would you recommend this book to? Why?

5.    What words would you use to describe this book when talking about it to friends?

6.    Would you consider this book too graphic? If yes, why? If not, are there any books you consider too graphic?

7.    Boo is the main character. Did you like him? Why or why not?

8.    What did it say about Boo that he owned only 1 plate and 1 set of cutlery?

9.    What can you tell about Boo as a person that he still has a beeper and doesn’t own a cell phone until Kelly Reese buys him one?

10.    How do Boo and Junior know each other?

11.    Do you think the author is making a statement about juvenile detention facilities?

12.    What is 4DC? Who owns it? Who wants to hire 4DC? Why?

13.    Boo and Junior have a common man’s approach to detective work – given the same task, how would you have accomplished solving this crime? Would you have done anything differently?

14.    Why did Cassie run away from home? Who did she run to?

15.    Did you believe that Cassie was capable of all the things she did at 14-years old? Did she want to be saved?

16.    A main plot point of The Hard Bounce involves a snuff film. How did this make you feel? How do you think the author wanted you to feel?

17.    Boo wants to immediately kill Snake/Derek. Who talks him out of it and why?

18.    Do you believe Snake/Derek when he later tells Boo that he truly loved Cassie and wanted to run away with her?

19.    Why didn’t Boo go to see his sister Emily? Would you have gone to see her?

20.    Why don’t Boo and Junior trust cops?

21.    Do you think multiple points of view about law enforcement (both positive and negative) are given? Do you think it is the author’s responsibility to give multiple points of view on this issue?

22.    Who is Underdog? What went wrong with Underdog’s career? Does he fix it by the end of the book?

23.    Did all of the musical references add to the setting or distract you?

24.    What did you think of the dynamic between Kelly and Boo? Did you think they would fall into a relationship? Why do you think they like each other? Do you think it will last?

25.    When does the break in the case about Cassie come?

26.    Who was Sid and what did you think of her occupation?

27.    How was the mafia involved in the case?

28.    What ultimately happens to Cassie? Who kills her? Why?

29.    Boo goes into a depression by the end of The Hard Bounce. Why? Does he shake out of it?

30.    Does The Hard Bounce have a happy ending? Did it end where and how you wanted it to?

 

Other Resources:

Lit Reactor interview with Todd Robinson
MPPL interview with Todd Robinson
Todd Robinson reading from The Hard Bounce
Crimespree Magazine review of The Hard Bounce
Mystery Scene Magazine review of The Hard Bounce

 

If you liked The Hard Bounce, try…

Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald

Crimes in Southern Indiana book cover     Killer Inside Me book coverDeep Blue Good-by book cover

By Readers' Advisor on May 1, 2013 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Everything is Connected

Dirk Gently DVD coverHow does the search for a missing cat turn into a warehouse explosion and a dead billionaire?  Only in the world of Dirk Gently, an invention of Douglas Adams, can randomness and chaos actually back into solving cases.  The anti-Sherlock Holmes, Gently eschews logic and deduction and instead holds tight to his faith in the interconnectedness of all things.  Of course, this holistic approach comes at a price, a price that may include charging clients for a new refrigerator or a Bahamas vacation because, after all, that’s part of the process, too.  New to DVD, the 2010 pilot and handful of 2012 episodes are just enough to endear the manic Dirk Gently and his put-upon partner to viewers ready for a madcap departure from the stereotypical British detective.

By Readers' Advisor on April 29, 2013 Categories: Humor, Movies and Television, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense