Summary and book reviews of The Brethren by John Grisham

The Brethren

By John Grisham

The Brethren
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Feb 2000,
    366 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2000,
    366 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Trumble is a minimum-security federal prison, a "camp," home to the usual assortment of relatively harmless criminals--drug dealers, bank robbers, swindlers, embezzlers, tax evaders, two Wall Street crooks, one doctor, at least five lawyers.

And three former judges who call themselves the Brethren: one from Texas, one from California, and one from Mississippi. They meet each day in the law library, their turf at Trumble, where they write briefs, handle cases for other inmates, practice law without a license, and sometimes dispense jailhouse justice. And they spend hours writing letters. They are fine-tuning a mail scam, and it's starting to really work. The money is pouring in.

Then their little scam goes awry. It ensnares the wrong victim, a powerful man on the outside, a man with dangerous friends, and the Brethren's days of quietly marking time are over.

FOR THE WEEKLY DOCKET the court jester wore his standard garb of well-used and deeply faded maroon pajamas and lavender terry-cloth shower shoes with no socks. He wasn't the only inmate who went about his daily business in his pajamas, but no one else dared wear lavender shoes. His name was T. Karl, and he'd once owned banks in Boston.

The pajamas and shoes weren't nearly as troubling as the wig. It parted at the middle and rolled in layers downward, over his ears, with tight curls coiling off into three directions, and fell heavily onto his shoulders. It was a bright gray, almost white, and fashioned after the Old English magistrate's wigs from centuries earlier. A friend on the outside had found it at a secondhand costume store in Manhattan, in the Village.

T. Karl wore it to court with great pride, and, odd as it was, it had, with time, become part of the show. The other inmates kept their distance from T. Karl anyway, wig or not.

He stood behind his ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
Beliefnet

Grisham's moral tone has been exemplary in the national debate, lacking Ken Starr's dogmatism, but maintaining a sense that some things are beyond the pale. In interviews recently, Grisham has expressed skepticism about the moral tone of the country, or rather about an absence of a moral tone. Grisham lashed out angrily at Hollywood for producing Oliver Stone's violent "Natural Born Killers," which apparently led to the copycat killing of one of Grisham's friends. Grisham, whose books tend to sell well as movies, has a voice in Hollywood, and his demand that certain lines not be crossed was widely discussed.

These recent expressions of dismay suggest that his disillusionment is deep. Nowhere is this despair more evident than in his latest, "The Brethren.... Grisham seems to have thrown up his hands, as if say, what's the point? It's a strange turn for the writer we've come to look to as, if not a moral beacon, then a bright thread in our cultural fabric.

The San Francisco Chronicle

Grisham's schizoid, occasionally diverting new novel, The Brethren, comes across like a typical Grisham legal thriller that's been infiltrated by a crack team of Tom Clancy frogmen.

The New York Times

The plot is as up-to-date as tomorrow's newspaper, with allusions to presidential polls and debates, campaign financing, money laundering and offshore financial finagling.... Add to these tantalizing ingredients the steady action, with some clever surprises.

Publishers Weekly

Every personage in this novel lies, cheats, steals and/or kills, and while Grisham's fans may miss the stalwart lawyer-heroes and David vs. Goliath slant of his earlier work, all will be captivated by this clever thriller that presents as crisp a cast as he's yet devised, and as grippingly sardonic yet bitingly moral a scenario as he's ever imagined.

Reader Reviews
Linda

Left hanging
Thoroughly enjoyed this book until the last page. I actually thought perhaps pages were missing. The story needed to continue. I was extremely disappointed with the ending. There is no ending.

Palesa Mpuru

Interesting
A startling book and depicts what could be the real world of many politicians, prone to blackmailing or being victimised. The final chapter of the book was a slump I feel it needed a strong cuff to the reader. John's writing style also illustrates ...   Read More

Palesa Mpuru

Funny
It was a very good read indeed, interesting and very realistic as your mind gets glued to the book. Very funny in other episodes of the book and brilliant. The end was somehow less flattering when compared to the whole book itself, but it leaves you ...   Read More

Kevin B.

Hmmmm...
I'm a big Ghisham fan, and I thought the development of the plot was great, but I was really expecting a BIG finish. The main players & plot just seemed to fizzle out. I really thought this book could have ended with a great cliff-hanger and lead ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Brethren, try these:

  • No Safe Place jacket

    No Safe Place

    by Richard North Patterson

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    North Patterson uses his mastery of characterization and suspense to give us a story of startling realism and originality--an extraordinary novel of presidential politics.

  • The Godfather Returns jacket

    The Godfather Returns

    by Mark Winegardner

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The missing years from the greatest crime saga of all time...it's 1955 and Michael Corleone has won a bloody victory in the war among New York's crime families but now he must consolidate his power, save his marriage and take his family into legitimate business.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  87Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.