Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review: The Brethren by John Grisham

Photo taken from Goodreads

 Book Info

Title:  The Brethren 

Author:  John Grisham
Publisher:  Doubleday
Language: English
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  366 pages
ISBN-10:  0385497466
ISBN-13:  978-0385497466
Source:  Purchased, Booksale


From Goodreads:

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

Trumble is also home to 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, occasionally dispense jailhouse justice, and spend hours hatching schemes to make money.

Then one of their scams goes awry. It ensnares the wrong victim, an innocent on the outside, a man with dangerous friends, and The Brethren's days of quietly marking time are over.


This novel from John Grisham is one of my most highly-anticipated after The Testament.  I have often wondered about what kind of plot he would pull of now and how he is going to top his other books.  Evidently, this kind of pressure would certainly not do anything good for the upcoming book as I have already piled too much expectation before I even read it.  And it really did.  I was very a bit disappointed with the ending - probably because I am used to Grisham's sense of justice in his stories.  SPOILER ALERT:  IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ THIS BOOK, PLEASE SKIP THE SUCCEEDING SENTENCES AND MOVE ONTO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH.  I wanted a little vindication, but it did not come off as I would have wanted it to be, but thinking about it now made me realize that it might be the most fitting ending for this story.

Disappointment aside, I thought this book was very good.  It had all the necessary elements that make a really awesome Grisham story:  very descriptive chapters, fast paced scenes, strategic dialogue, and stories that come to a head in a pretty thrilling climax.  Initially, the book told two separate stories:  that of The Brethren and their schemes, and that of Aaron Lake's run towards becoming the next American president.  While reading those chapters, I was constantly wondering when and how their paths would cross, and who from Aaron Lake's camp would be the one to make contact with the three judges.  With the way the story went, you eventually figure out what would happen but the journey to get there was pretty special and exciting, taking you to different twists and turns that make it a really good read.

The characters were very funny in their own way, and how they were portrayed could be seen happening in reality, with just a tinge of unrealistic qualities that make it more appealing to readers.  The hilarity of their dialogue and situations were even more underlined because of the narration's unflinchingly serious tone.  The writing was very steady and consistent, although it does go a bit downhill in the end in my opinion - which others might disagree with - but still, it's a book worth reading and having on your bookshelf.

This novel in my opinion marked the looming changes that Grisham employed in his writing - less on the lawyerly stuff and more into societal and personal issues unlike his first few books that put him up there when it came to books about courtroom drama and legal rivalry.  I have yet to read his latest books not related to anything about law, but as far as 'practice makes perfect' go, they better equal - if not surpass - this book.


If you have any questions on this particular rating, please refer to my ratings system here.


All opinions expressed in this book review are my own and not influenced by any party in any way.
Please contact me for questions, comments, and suggestions. 


  1. Excellent review Nina! :)

    This book sounds really exciting to me. Crooked judges working over inmates on the inside of a prison sounds like an exciting read to me.


  2. Well, I haven't really read any of Grisham's books yet but I would think I'd like his work. So thanks for this review!

  3. What a wonderful review. As always Nina, your take on John's The Brethren will make anyone read the book themselves! Fantastic! I'm a fan!

  4. Must be an enjoyable read The Brethren by John Grisham. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.


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