A riveting story you won’t soon forget

This is a murder story with a difference. The narrator, Andrew Barber, is the assistant district attorney of Middlesex County so he knows about the murder from its discovery.

Defending Jacob

By William Landay

A Feb. Paperback $9.99)

This is a murder story with a difference. The narrator, Andrew Barber, is the assistant district attorney of Middlesex County so he knows about the murder from its discovery.

The body of 14-year-old Ben Rifkin, a student, is found in Cold Spring Park, on a path that leads to the McCormick Middle School. He died of stab wounds, three evenly spaced punctures across his chest, although he did not die right away.

The route across the park that leads to the school is one travelled by many students. Jacob Barber is the son of Andrew Barber, and he had walked that very route on that day. So had many others.

Andrew Barber can decide to take the case or not. It could be handed to one of his assistants, but he feels that the murderer must be found quickly for his neighbourhood to feel safe again. So he goes to work.

Is he in a conflict of interest? The murdered boy and Jacob Barber attended the same school, but as far as Jacob’s father knows they were not friends, and he’s right. They are not.

Teenagers use technology to communicate, they Facebook and text constantly. The first thing confiscated from a suspect is his or her computer. So Andrew Barber takes to the Internet.

Adults are innocent in some ways. The communications Andrew discovers are shockingly unguarded and nasty. There are love notes to the dead boy, and there is bullying and name calling. One message says, “Jake, everyone knows you did it. You have a knife. I’ve seen it.” The message was signed by one of Jacob’s friends.

District attorney Barber searches his son’s room and finds a knife, “it is ten inches long, with a serrated cutting edge, and it came to a lethal gothic point.” He took the knife outside and threw it away in a dumpster.

The police round up people known to them, among them Leonard Patz, a known pedophile. He was in the park that morning, as were many others. He protests and claims to be innocent.

Time goes on and no new leads appear, and Andrew is relieved of his duties as DA.

It is discovered that Andrew’s father is a lifer, in for murder, and with Jacob charged, the term “murder gene” is bandied about.

The Barbers, the Rifkins and all of their friends live a life of upper middle class affluence. The young people have all the clothes, sports, toys and technology available. When parents are obliged to examine whether they really know their children, and their children’s friends, the unthinkable becomes a nightmare.

Andrew is obliged to visit his father in jail. This is a man whose existence he has always denied. His father is nasty in every way.

Suddenly there is an unbelievable break and Jacob is cleared. A holiday is planned, but we are far from a happy ending. This is a tough, riveting story, one you will not soon forget.

Peggy Freeman is a local freelance books reviewer.

Just Posted

Patrons practice on a putting green as the Whitestone Bridge looms in the distance at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx borough of New York on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Former President Donald Trump has a rich history of fighting back when he’s down and making others pay, and that’s exactly how he intends to deal with New York City over its plans to fire his company from running the city golf course. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dump Trump? Kicking him off NYC golf course may not be easy

Trump Organization has been reeling after the Capitol riots

A photo illustration made December 14, 2012 in Montreal shows a computer in chains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Irish health system says it’s targeted in ransomware attack

Health care systems have been a target before

A woman wearing a mask talks on her phone near an exhibition depicting a rover in Mars in Beijing on Friday, May 14, 2021. China says its Mars probe and accompanying rover are to land on the red planet sometime between early Saturday morning and Wednesday Beijing time. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China Mars rover to land between Saturday and Wednesday

Only the United States has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee as Israeli artillery pounds northern Gaza

Israel called up 9,000 reservists as fighting intensifies

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Team Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan talks with players before the start of the of the Rivalry Series at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 3, 2020. Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., has been named head coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Troy Ryan to coach Canadian women’s hockey team in 2022 Winter Olympics

Ryan was Canada’s assistant coach from 2016 to 2019

FILE- In this April 19, 2021, file photo, people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait to test for COVID-19 at a hospital in Hyderabad, India. Misinformation about the coronavirus is surging in India as the death toll from COVID-19 rises. Fueled by anguish, distrust and political polarization, the claims are further compounding India’s crisis. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)
Misinformation surges amid India’s COVID-19 calamity

Distrust of Western vaccines and health care also driving misinformation

FILE - In this Friday March 6, 2020, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry visits the Silverstone Circuit, in Towcester, England. In an episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast broadcast Thursday, May 13, 2021, Prince Harry compared his royal experience to being on “The Truman Show” and “living in a zoo.” (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Prince Harry thought about quitting royal life in his 20s

Feared his family would have to deal with the same spotlight that was on his late mother

Opinion
Mental health: Gossiping, backbiting and forming factions is unhealthy

We all know of dysfunctional organizations, which can be as troublesome as… Continue reading

Family practice physician Christina Tuomi, D.O., (right) gets Homer's first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Emergency Department nurse Steve Hughes (left) on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Tuomi has been the hospital's medical lead throughout the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
Alberta physicians: Vaccines are our path forward

As the AMA representatives for Alberta’s family physicians, we were immensely relieved… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

Most Read