Books

Why Fans Of The 'Defending Jacob' Book Will Be Shocked By The Series

Apple TV+

This week, Apple TV+ will release the first episode of its Defending Jacob miniseries. The series — which stars Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery — is based on William Landay's 2012 novel of the same name. So you might be wondering: How does the Defending Jacob book end? The show's producers say you can read the book without spoiling the miniseries for yourself.

Defending Jacob centers on Andy Barber (Evans), a Massachusetts ADA tasked with investigating the murder of his teenage son Jacob's (Jaeden Martell) classmate. When forensic evidence links Jacob to the other boy's death, he becomes the prime suspect, and his father is forced off of the case. Landay's novel blends Andy's narration from the murder investigation with transcripts from a later grand jury hearing, leaving the reader to wonder what, exactly, transpired in the year between.

Jacob is exonerated when a local man leaves behind a suicide note detailing his involvement in the other boy's murder. Although Andy believes that the so-called killer's suicide was actually a plot to prevent Jacob from going to prison, he and his wife Laurie (Dockery) plan a family vacation to Jamaica to help put the case behind them.

While in the Caribbean, Jacob befriends a girl named Hope, who later goes missing. When Hope's body is recovered, weeks later, with evidence of foul play, Laurie becomes convinced that her son has committed his second murder. She intentionally wrecks her car, killing Jacob and critically injuring herself. As is revealed in the novel's final moments, Andy has been asked to testify at a grand jury hearing to determine whether his wife murdered their son.

If you're worried that reading the spoilers above will ruin the enjoyment of watching the Apple TV+ adaptation, don't be. Mark Bomback, the writer and executive producer of the Defending Jacob miniseries, told Deadline in January that reading Landay's novel or a summary of it "would not tell you the ultimate plot of the series." That's not to say that the miniseries will deviate widely from the source material, but that — as Defending Jacob director and executive producer Morton Tyldum put it — "there will be big surprises" for fans of the book when the series airs.

Defending Jacob premieres Friday, Apr. 24 on Apple TV+.