Jane Stewart's Reviews > The Brethren

The Brethren by John Grisham
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's review
Feb 07, 12

bookshelves: politics-and-crime-fiction
Read in February, 2012

Depressing topic. Unlikeable characters. No one was fun to watch.

Three former judges are running an extortion scam while serving their sentences in a minimum security prison. They write letters pretending to be Ricky a twenty-something gay guy looking for an older male friend. When they find someone who has money, a wife, and is still in the closet, they threaten to expose his gay activities and demand money. Trevor is their unscrupulous attorney who brings and sends mail for them. Victims wire money to a bank in the Bahamas.

The CIA director Teddy wants the next President to double military spending. He selects congressman Aaron Lake to run for President. Lake agrees to do what Teddy wants. In return Teddy orchestrates terrorist bombings at politically convenient times. Teddy also arranges millions of dollars for Lake’s campaign from lobbyists and corporations.

Problem 1: There was no one to root for, no one to like. I don’t mind a story about a bunch of bad guys, as long as I can enjoy watching one or more of them. But no one was fun to watch. In the beginning I thought Lake might be a good guy, but later I didn’t care for him. And he did some stupid things. The CIA did some smart things but also some incompetent things.

Problem 2: Whenever I was reading about Teddy and the Lake campaign, I was depressed. I didn’t enjoy seeing how easy it was to get tons of money from special interests. I didn’t like reading about the power of the CIA to orchestrate bombings and kill people just for the campaign. And I did not enjoy some of the other things the CIA did.

Problem 3: I don’t want to spoil things and say how often and to whom this happened, but I really did NOT like the idea of giving into blackmail and paying it.

Problem 4: I did not like the ending. Good things happened to bad guys. It was unpleasant, distasteful. It did not feel good.

There were a few times I chuckled over some things, but they were minor and not often enough. One scene I liked was when some CIA guys met with Quince, one of the extortion victims. Quince was horrified that they knew about his correspondence with Ricky, and then he was shocked that they wanted to help him. It was funny.

The narrator Frank Muller was excellent as usual. The editing/production had a problem. About a dozen times one sentence was erroneously repeated.

Unabridged audiobook reading time: 11 hrs and 34 mins. Swearing language: mild. Sexual content: none. Setting: current day mostly Florida, plus other U.S. cities and the Bahamas. Book copyright: 2000. Genre: politics and crime fiction. Ending: bad taste in my mouth.

I’ve reviewed the following John Grisham books. Dates are copyright dates.
5 stars. The Firm 1991
5 stars. The Pelican Brief 1992
5 stars. The Client 1993
2 stars. The Chamber 1994
4 ½ stars. The Rainmaker 1995
5 stars. The Runaway Jury 1996
3 stars. The Partner 1997
3 stars. The Street Lawyer 1998
4 stars. The Testament 1999
2 stars. The Brethren 2000
4 stars. Playing for Pizza 2007
2 stars. Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer 2010 (for young adults)

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