Drebbles's Reviews > The Pelican Brief

The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
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Oct 09, 2009

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bookshelves: 2006
Read in January, 2006

When two Supreme Court justices are assassinated on the same night, there is plenty of speculation as to who the assassin or assassins are and why the judges were murdered. Like many others, law student Darby Shaw thinks she knows the motive. She writes a brief, soon to be known as The Pelican Brief, and shows it to her law professor/lover, Thomas Callahan. Unfortunately, he shows it to a friend of his who works for the FBI, who passes it along, and it falls into the wrong hands. When Callahan is killed by a car bomb, Darby realizes someone wants her dead and she goes on the run. She hooks up with Washington Post reporter Gray Grantham and the two of them try to stay alive long enough to expose the truth.

This was an exciting but implausible thriller. Darby is a well-written character and it's nice to read a book with a strong, intelligent heroine. Unfortunately, it's not clear until well into the book what Darby's feelings for Callahan really were, it should have been clear earlier that she loved him and was not a student having an affair with a professor in order to get an A. She conveniently has plenty of money, so she can use cash on the run, rather than leave a trail by using plastic. And it strains readers credibility that a law student can outwit trained assassins. Some of the other characters in the book blend into each other and I wasn't always clear as to who some of them were. Grisham does clear up some loose ends, but at the last minute, as if he suddenly remembered them.

Despite these flaws, the story is exciting enough to keep the reader turning pages and worth reading as long as you don't think too much about it.
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