Doing Time Never Paid So Good
To quite a few people, when they hear that John Grisham has come out with a new novel, their first hasty generalization is that it is another “lawyer book.” This may have been true with his first five novels, but the subsequent five had been entirely different. Yes, each involved a lawyer or the court in some way, but they entailed an interesting story not to do with law and the courts, but with ordinary happenstances of life. Once again, John Grisham has delivered with The Brethren, a unique story that keeps the reader hooked until the very end.
The Brethren are three judges doing time in a prison in Florida. All three have committed somewhat serious crimes, nothing as major as murder or manslaughter, but enough that they are doing ten years at Trundle, a minimum-security prison. What separates them from the rest of the inmates is the elaborate scheme they have concocted.
They enter personal ads in gay magazines, and then reply to those interested who seem to be rich and stable. They created a fictitious yet perfect setting: a young boy in rehab, getting off his drug addiction, trying to get accepted back into the real world, and needing someone to comfort him. Then, when the right moment is reached, they launch their attack, revealing their identities and their plot, demanding large amounts of money. The people who have been had have no choice but to comply, unless they want their hidden sexual leanings reveled to their friends and families.
Juxtaposed with this is the election for President of the United States. There is a perfect candidate, backed and controlled by the CIA, guaranteed to win; except he has answered one of the personal ads and currently has a “rich” correspondence with “Ricky” in rehab.
And so begins the ongoing game where the Brethren scam and scam, bringing in the dollars, while the CIA fight to preserve the secrets of the new president. One cannot help but be sucked into the raging maelstrom Grisham has created with The Brethren, following the lives of the judges, the candidate, the CIA and its agents. This tale is sure to delight any reader, whether they are a John Grisham fan or not.
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Originally published on April 2nd 2001 ©Alex C. Telander.
Originally published in the Long Beach Union.