Summary and book reviews of The Brethren by John Grisham

The Brethren

by John Grisham

The Brethren
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2000, 366 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2000, 366 pages

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Book Summary

Three former judges meet each day in the law library of their minimum security prison to fine-tune a mail scam. Then things go awry. They ensnare the wrong victim, and the Brethren's days of quietly marking time are over.

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 ...

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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

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

silver-o

so far the best

Anonymous

This was a page turner for me. I could not put it down! It was as tantalizing as 'The Testament'. 'The Brethren' is my second favorite Grisham novel (following 'Testament') and I will even read it again someday.

mastermind

book was good, I agree did not give any names, but good reading. If anyone like drama and groups, there is one that is all about the DIXIE MAFIA and familes of STATE LINE MAFIA and their familes you can meet and talk to its in yahoo groups under ...   Read More

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