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The Pelican Brief

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In suburban Georgetown a killer's Reeboks whisper on the front floor of a posh home... In a seedy D.C. porno house a patron is swiftly garroted to death... The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief... To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it was political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder -- a murder intended for her. Going underground, she finds there is only one person she can trust -- an ambitious reporter after a newsbreak hotter than Watergate -- to help her piece together the deadly puzzle. Somewhere between the bayous of  Louisiana and the White House's inner sanctums, a violent cover-up is being engineered. For someone has read Darby's brief. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of an unthinkable crime.

400 pages, Paperback

First published February 15, 1992

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About the author

John Grisham

427 books73.8k followers
John Grisham is the author of forty-seven consecutive #1 bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly fifty languages. His recent books include The Judge's List, Sooley, and his third Jake Brigance novel, A Time for Mercy, which is being developed by HBO as a limited series.

Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction.

When he's not writing, Grisham serves on the board of directors of the Innocence Project and of Centurion Ministries, two national organizations dedicated to exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted. Much of his fiction explores deep-seated problems in our criminal justice system.

John lives on a farm in central Virginia.

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Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,567 reviews55.5k followers
August 28, 2021
The Pelican Brief, John Grisham

Taut thriller about a young law student whose legal brief about the assassination of two Supreme Court justices causes her to be targeted by killers.

She realizes just how accurate her accusations have been when her lover and mentor is murdered.

Forced to go on the run in New Orleans, she is aided by a journalist who helps her unravel a conspiracy involving senior government figures.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه اکتبر سال 1999میلادی

عنوان: پرونده پلیکان؛ نویسنده: جان گریشام؛ مترجم بابک ریاحی پور؛ تهران، زرین، 1373؛ در 672ص؛ چاپ دیگر ویراستار بابک حقایق؛ تهران، نشر آویژه، 1377؛ در 672ص، شابک 9649094083؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

عنوان: پرونده پلیکان؛ نویسنده: جان گریشام؛ مترجم خسرو مهربان سمیعی؛ تهران، هرمس، 1384؛ در 500ص؛ شابک 9647100671؛ چاپ دوم سال 1394، در هشت و 535ص؛ شابک 9789647100670؛

فیلمی هم از روی این کتاب ساخته شده، که با بازی «جولیا رابرتز» و «دنزل واشنگتن» سال 1993میلادی روی پرده رفته است؛ کتاب «پرونده پلیکان» درباره ی تلاش شرکتهایی نفتی، برای استخراج نفت، در زیستگاههای مهم پرندگان در «لوئیزیانا» را تحت پرونده ای «جنایی – حقوقی» بررسی میکند که بسیار جذاب است؛ یک دانشجوی حقوق کوشش میکند جنایت پیچیده در پس پرده ی بهره برداری از مناطق تالابی مهم را کشف کند؛ در این داستان، «آبراهام روزنبرگ (آخرین چهره‌ ی دادگاه عالی فدرال)»، از سوی مخالفان با سقط جنین، و حامیان برتری نژادی، و هم‌جنس‌گرایان، به شدت تهدید می‌شود؛ این در حالی است، که او به برتری حکومت بر مسائل دیگر، و برتری فرد بر حکومت، و حفظ محیط زیست، و دفاع از سرخ‌پوستان و سیاه‌پوستان، باور دارد؛ و ...؛

از متن: («اسمیت»، من «گری‌»ام؛ خوب گوش کن و کاری را که می‌‌گویم انجام بده؛ تایید را از منبع دیگری گرفتم، درباره ی «پرونده پلیکان»، سند مهمی است؛ «اسمیت» یک ربع دیگر، با «کراتهامر» در دفتر «فلدمن» باشید؛ ـ چی پیدا کرده‌ ای؟ ـ «گارسیا» پیام خداحافظی گذاشته است؛ اول باید جای دیگری برویم، بعد می‌آییم آن‌جا؛ ـ چی؟ دخترک هم با توست؟ ـ بله؛ یک ویدیو و تلویزیون، در اتاق کنفرانس بگذار؛ فکر می‌کنم «گارسیا» می‌خواهد با ��ا حرف بزند؛ ـ نوار کاست گذاشته است؟ ـ بله، تا یک ربع دیگر آنجاییم؛ ـ خطری تهدیدت نمی‌کند؟ ـ نه؛ فکر نمی‌کنم «اسمیت»؛ اما اعصابم داغان است؛ گوشی را گذاشت و دوان دوان به طرف اتومبیل رفت)؛ پایان نقل از متن؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 28/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 05/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Cathie.
231 reviews
March 26, 2008
I worked at a law firm where part of the movie was filmed. When Julia Roberts's character goes into a law firm to ask for a particular lawyer only to find out that he no longer works there and she leaves, that is my old firm. It is an ornate marble lobby with a small stream of water in the middle of the lobby. She goes through a glass door and can either go up an escalator or up some stairs to the reception desk, which overlooks the lobby. The walls are all glass and she can see across the floor into the conference room where the receptionist goes. I had just interviewed there before I saw the movie and was having major deja vu while watching the movie.
Profile Image for Paul.
165 reviews51 followers
June 22, 2020
This is the third time I've read this. The last was ten years ago (the first 1992). So I obviously have liked it. But today it feels almost antiquated in its mentality and character attitude. I still think It's a good suspense legal thriller but with some porous character choices for 2020. Probably not for 1992. AND: For some reason I dont believe the characters "love" interest in the end. It just doesnt fit with the "Strong female character"that was created. It starts to reek of the damsel in distress stock character. I think 'Darby' would have gone off on her own. It would have made a much better character choice. More exciting and dangerous and independent, leaving any romantic connection (if so inclined) to the imagination.

A 5 star novel in 1992
A 4 star novel in 2020
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews710 followers
July 28, 2019
Read it years ago, remember I liked it, entertaining read. I used to like reading Grisham's books, maybe I'll try a new one soon, sort of lost track of all the books he wrote in the past years.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
504 reviews362 followers
November 7, 2018
This was a superb read. It is well plotted and developed. I really loved the character of Darby Shaw, a young, brave, brilliant minded law student. This was the first time I came across a female lead in a John Grisham Novel. The story is a quick page turner with heart racing action and suspense. I felt that I was with Darby Shaw every step of the way. I felt her pain, her anger, her frustration and shared her determination to bring on justice.

Being in the legal field myself, I always admired his ability to show the negative side of justice and the manipulative hand the politicians have over the justice system. To that end, the Pelican Brief is the best I have read. Grisham is a genius in creating such realistic characters in his books which make us readers so connected with them. His characters have always been felt so close to our hearts and Darby Shaw is no exception.

I really like this story and the characters. The reading was extremely pleasant, enjoyable and satisfying. Anyone who is interested in action, suspense with a legal surrounding must surely check this out.
Profile Image for Mahdi Lotfi.
446 reviews106 followers
November 5, 2019
پرونده پلیکان یک رمان هیجان انگیز قانونی است که توسط نویسنده آمریکایی جان گریشام در سال 1992 نوشته شده است. این رمان سومین رمان گریشام بعد از “زمان قتل” و “شرکت” است.
خبر شک برانگیزی که دو تن از دیوان عالی کشور به طور فجیهی به قتل رسیده اند هر دوی کاخ سفید و FBI را مخدوش کرده است. رئیس جمهور، یک جمهوری خواه محافظ کار، احساس میکند که ممکن است یک ارتباط سیاسی در اجرای او بوده که ممکن است به امر انتخاب دوباره او لطمه بزند. و او جواب میخواهد. اما FBI برای ایجاد انگیزه یا رسیدن به لیست معتبری از مضنون ها شکست میخورد. در این حال نیو اورلین، داربی شاو, یک دانش آموز حقوق تولان، زمان قتل ها و مضنون ها را زمان بندی میکند که ممکن است یک توطئه برای جمع کردن دادگاه با محافظ کارها باشد. چه چیزی آشفته میکند، با این وجود اینگونه قتل های دیوان متفاوت بودند. یکی لیبرال دیوان دادگاه نود ساله بود و دیگری دیوان محافظ کار جوان بود.
بعد از مرور صدها کیس که برای شنیدن در دادگاه برنامه ریزی شده بودند، او در نهایت یک مورد را که ممکن است که شامل یک مسئله فرار کافی برای نتیجه گیری در کشتار باشد را کشف کرد. دربی خلاصه ای بر اساس تحقیقاتش اینکه رابطه تعجب برانگیز بین دو قتل دیوان را آشکار میکند را مینویسد.
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
December 3, 2019
A stand alone by John Grisham published in 1993

John Grisham doesn’t always get it right but on this occasion he most definitely did.

Darby Shaw, a young law student with a promising future ahead of her, was shocked, like the rest of the legal profession, to her core when she heard of the assassination of two Supreme Court judges.
There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the assassinations’. The local police, the FBI and the CIA are all involved in the hunt for the killer but are getting nowhere.
Darby decided to test herself by putting her considerable intellect to the task of finding an answer. What she comes up with is considered interesting but implausible. What Darby didn’t know was that she had just scratched a pimple that is now turning septic.
Darby soon realised that her brief was a lot more than a hypothetical when people she loved and cared about start dying.

What follows is a classic cat and mouse thriller. The bad guys want Darby dead and Darby, alone and friendless, is running for her life.
Not sure of whom she can trust but realising that she needs help and lots of it puts her faith in Gray Grantham, a reporter from the Washington Post, who is one of the few people who really believes that Darby is in grave danger.

Surprisingly, there’s lot of lawyers but not a courtroom in sight.

This is a by the seat of your pants thriller the tension just keeps mounting and mounting.

A great 4 star read.

Profile Image for Tina Suraj.
23 reviews2 followers
April 27, 2010
My first Grisham novel and probably my last. The book was much too formulaic and a bit dull (not for an avid mystery reader and an adrenaline junkie)though at certain points it was a fast page turner. The plot was really weak. Maybe this environmental conspiracy plot was breakthrough in the 90s but in 2010, it's a tad bit overused and overdone. What made this book unbearable was Grisham characterization of Darby. She is the generic 90s heroine...extremely smart, absolutely stunning, with a spunky attitude with zero faults...making her unrelatable. And her romance with Callahan and Grantham was oh-so-predicatable. Apparently, for Grisham, damsel in distress always needs to be attached to a white knight.
Profile Image for Kiersten.
625 reviews30 followers
March 1, 2010
This book was a lot more suspenseful and entertaining than I thought it would be. I don't know why I thought it would be so boring, since John Grisham is so popular. It was incredibly suspenseful at parts. It was the first book I'd read by Grisham, so I really didn't know what was coming. I had three problems with it: 1) Although, like I said, the book as a whole was really suspenseful, I thought the end was a bit anticlimatic. 2) The environmentalism was a bit heavy handed. I'm all about preserving the environment, but I don't like being hit over the head by it. Darby could get a bit preachy at times. 3) I didn't think that Darby was a very good characterization. She didn't feel real. Towards the end she said something like, "It's not fair; we used my brains, looks, and legs, and you get all the glory." Despite whatever Grisham's fantasies may be, women do not talk like that, nor do they obsess over their legs and toenails as much as Darby did, and if they do, everyone hates them. But all in all it was a great book.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,419 followers
November 22, 2016
I read this when it came out and I was a restless teenager. I never saw the movie. I only gave it three stars because I remember it being exciting but still considered it pulp fiction. Perhaps the topic of assassinated Supreme Court justices over environmentalism will become a more relevant topic soon and it merits a re-read? Or not.
Profile Image for Raymond.
326 reviews231 followers
July 25, 2017
I read this book when I was a freshman in high school. I was looking for a book to read for a book report in my English class and the librarian suggested that I read The Pelican Brief. I read it and the rest is history. 15 years and 36 books later, I'm still reading Grisham's books. He is my favorite author and it all started with this novel.

March 5, 2020
One of the great Grisham stories, its engaging, evocative and fast paced. The author's expertise in the legal realm pushes the boundaries of this story. It's difficult not to enjoy his work if for no other reason than reader engagement. That said, this is on par with "The Firm" and others affording it appeal across all genres.
Profile Image for Emma.
218 reviews81 followers
August 4, 2018
4 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was so intrigued by this plot, the story had me engaged throughout and I really enjoyed it. Highly recommend if you’re a fan of John Grisham’s work!
Profile Image for Leo.
4,181 reviews373 followers
June 26, 2021
The plot sounded interesting but I ended up feeling rather bored by it as it didn't grab me enough. It was OK but not really my thing. But it was still well written
Profile Image for آبتین گلکار.
Author 46 books1,086 followers
April 12, 2021
کشش و هیجانش خوب بود، ولی واقعاً بعد از تموم شدن کتاب اگه از خودم بپرسم چی داد بهم خوندن این کتاب، جوابی پیدا نمی‌کنم جز وقت‌گذرانی صرف. که البته کسی هم که می‌ره سراغ جان گریشام، قاعدتاً نباید انتظار خیلی بیشتری داشته باشه. حیف که جذاب‌ترین شخصیت کتاب همون مقتوله و اول کار کشته می‌شه
Profile Image for Phil.
1,496 reviews86 followers
September 19, 2022
This novel helped cement Grisham firmly on the NYT's bestseller lists and was quickly turned into a blockbuster movie. Published 30 years ago, does it still captivate? Well, yes and no. This is a 'big picture' thriller, with characters ranging from the head of the FBI and CIA, the POTUS, investigative journalists and law professors. The story kicks off when two Supreme Court Justices are assassinated in D.C.; one an old liberal holdover (kinda like RBG) and a somewhat flaky middle aged man. Why take out two justices? That is the driving question of the novel.

While the D.C. events are happening, Grisham switches to law school in New Orleans and focuses upon a law prof-- Callahan-- and his star student/lover Darby. Callahan loved the old liberal Justice that got offed and goes on a drunk. Darby, however, is curious. Why take out these two judges? Is there perhaps some case due to go the Supreme Court that someone wants different judges to sit on? Probing that, she comes up with the Pelican Brief; a hypothesis that concerns a long-term lawsuit whose principles may be just crazy enough to off some Justices. Through a rather circumventionist route, the Brief makes its way to D.C. and even the FBI. Well, long story short, Callahan shortly thereafter eats a car bomb and Darby goes on the run...

Grisham pithy dialogue and fast pacing really moves this one along nicely, as any decent thriller should. Yes, he keeps you guessing for some time regarding the people behind the Brief, and also explores some nasty behind the door politics among the white house, the FBI and the CIA. Good stuff all around. While thrillers never tend to age well, the politics depicted here have-- money in politics, conservatives wanting to abolish abortion (yeah😢) and get rid of environmental standards-- sound familiar? What has not aged well are the characters. Callahan is a drunken buffoon and why Darby is attracted to him is rather inexplicable. Further, what is a law professor doing sleeping with his students? Via various dialogue by-play, this is an established pattern. Can you say Title IX?

Darby, despite her attraction to flawed older men is a fun character, however, even though just about every male she encounters thinks of her only with bedroom eyes. Yeah, this is 1992, but jeez! I though the ending was rather anti-climatic, but so it goes. I read this years ago and liked it enough to keep, but really, this is great example of an airport thriller-- easy reading and easy to forget about. 3 stars!!
Profile Image for Alex Cantone.
Author 3 books32 followers
October 1, 2021
Written in 1992 and made into a movie a year later, Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington cast in the main roles, The Pelican Brief is billed as a legal thriller. The Supreme Court of the US is/was presided over by nine aging Chief Justices, appointed for life – at the time all male, white, with a closet gay thrown into the mix, which suits the Republican Administration. A presidential benefactor with deep pockets, fearing for the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling if the democrats win the next election, pays an assassin to take out a couple of the justices, to have in place a court likely to find in his favour.

Washington Post journalist Gray Grantham is approached by a lawyer named “Garcia”, claiming to have some startling evidence on the assassinations, while in New Orleans, legal student Darby Shaw, in a relationship with law professor, Thomas Callahan, investigates which cases are likely to tipped upwards to the Supreme Court in the next few years, and hits upon one with links to the president. She writes the Pelican Brief – an environmental tussle in Louisiana, where wetlands are drained for oil and gas exploration, the waters polluted by DDT which is destroying the local population of brown pelicans. Callahan hands it to a friend from back in law school, Gavin Verheek, now a lawyer with the FBI in Washington.

When her boyfriend is killed in a car bomb, also meant for her, Darby goes to ground, contacting Verheek, who flies to New Orleans to search for her. Verheek is taken out and Darby narrowly escapes a second time, fleeing to New York, for a reason I never really understood. Eventually, student lawyer and journo team up, on what is billed as the biggest story to break since Watergate.

The movie was a box office success, though critics claimed it was overlong, as was the book. With the assassin despatched early in the piece, there seemed to be enough lawyers on board to sink a battleship. For me, this is where it lost traction and got bogged down in an animal rights/ environmental message. (It may have been true back then and legislation tightened since. I hope so, though I have never been mistaken for a tree-hugger.)

The story winds on, with our pair disappearing down rabbit holes and emerging with proof of who is behind the killings - despite denials from the President’s Chief-of-Staff, Fletcher Cole (an admiral villain). Various characters put in cameo appearances for no apparent reason – Eric East of the FBI and Edwin Sneller (presumably) CIA, but the shady ex-CIA/former marine in Cole’s pay, did not make it in the movie, nor the oil industrialist behind it all.

Overall, disappointing.
Profile Image for Elyse.
271 reviews20 followers
July 17, 2013
I'll begin by saying that I used to love John Grisham's books. I read four or five, started to get a little tired of the same old plot line, and by the time I got to this book, my tenth or eleventh Grisham book, I was just thoroughly annoyed.

Grisham has good plots, that can't be denied. But the plot doesn't begin until somewhere between pages 150 and 200. And it's always a variation of the same story: a man is in trouble, a gorgeous, seductive woman needs saving, and so the man saves both himself and the woman, the bad guys get their comeuppance, and the two improbable lovebirds live happily ever after, 600 repetitive pages later.

I find John Grisham's books to be sexist. I'll just say it. I know it won't make me popular, but there it is. His female characters are all outrageously sexual, earth-shatteringly beautiful, and lusting after the main male character with a Romeo-and-Juliet intensity. The male is always the main character, he always has to protect the woman, and he's always imperfect. Cheats on his wife, alcohol addict, greedy, sleazy, or possessing some other deep character flaw. But the goddesses Grisham creates still want these men, who in turn seem to treat them as objects. The women always flirt relentlessly, seem to have a peculiar aversion to bras, and are also helpless in some way.

It's the same thing with this book. Gorgeous, unbelievably attractive law student, who also happens to be a hard-working genius, is sleeping with her fifty-something college professor. But he's not using her, he's in love with her. And she's in love with him right back. But when he kicks the bucket, she meets a thirty-something reporter who falls in love with her before he even meets her, just by seeing her picture, and guess what? She's cool with that. Goes right ahead and sleeps with him, too, because apparently that's how John Grisham thinks women act.

I'll just end this review by saying that I won't be reading any more Grisham books, and that I think he should write realistic, independent women into his future novels, and drop his offensive, sexist portrayals of women.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Whitney.
74 reviews7 followers
May 15, 2007
i had read a less well-known grisham book, and was pretty disappointed, so i decided to read this one, which is supposedly one of his best. terrible ending, tedious story for the most part. if you can read quickly you might not think you're wasting your time on this book.
Profile Image for Brian .
413 reviews5 followers
July 6, 2017
I found great pleasure in this book. Grisham wove an outstanding, well researched plot. His characters move forward into the plot with three dimensions shaping with each word and act. I couldn’t put the book down. Grisham blesses me, and gives me what I need, the way S. King does, in the sense of a mini-vacation from reality. The power of this book, for me, came through the characters, and the outstanding dialogue.

If you haven’t seen the movie or read it: A Law student writes a report on the killings of two Supreme Court Justices, and when the report gets into the hands of reporters and gets passed along, she nearly dies in the explosion which kills her boyfriend, a law professor. She goes into hiding as killers seek her out, and she chooses who she can and can’t trust. The plot unfolds near the end, explaining the brief, and a rich antagonist with mob-like power, tied to government officials.

I plan to read more of Grisham, and more in this genre.
Profile Image for David Lucero.
Author 4 books187 followers
June 6, 2017
I read this book shortly after watching the movie and was not disappointed. In fact, the film follows the book closely.

A university student writes a story on the possibility of a connection between an oil tycoon and the White House in relations to the deaths of two supreme court justices. Although her brief is for a school subject, it hits close to home and the young student soon finds herself running for her life as assassins aim to gun her down and silence her brief.

This is fast-paced and suspenseful. A definite page-turner and one of Grisham's best!

David Lucero, author
Profile Image for Andre Gonzalez.
Author 38 books229 followers
August 10, 2018
This book actually had me sweating at certain parts. Such fantastic suspense and drama. The last quarter of the book flew by because I simply couldn't put it down!
Profile Image for Melissa Franckowiak.
Author 7 books47 followers
September 23, 2019
Great book. Not as intense as The Labrador Response by Melissa Melissa Crickard but we're comparing lawyers to doctors there.
Profile Image for Ricky Ginsburg.
Author 16 books89 followers
July 22, 2021
Forget the movie, as good as it was, the pacing and power of this book shines from the first page. If you've never read a book by John Grisham, this is an excellent place to start.
Profile Image for Dean Cummings.
268 reviews31 followers
January 27, 2019
“There is no chance, no destiny, and no fate that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Justice Abraham Rosenberg was a long serving jurist of the U.S. Supreme Court. As the story opens, he is ninety-one years old, wheelchair bound, and dependent on supplemental oxygen. Also, he is almost completely deaf.

But even at this late stage in his life, even in his infirmed state, he’s still a powerhouse of the Supreme Court. He’s loved, and at the same time also despised by millions of Americans, depending on their particular set of beliefs or causes they embrace. He doesn’t back down on the issues he believes in, and his mind is still sharp as ever. Over the course of his many decades of service as a jurist, he’s stubbornly stuck to the same basic ideology:

“Government over business, the individual over government, the environment over everything.”

Justice Glenn Jensen is only forty-eight years of age, nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court six years before. His confirmation was a squeaker, by a margin of one single vote.

As a Supreme Court Justice, Jensen proved to be unpredictable. He began his tenure camped on the right side of the political spectrum, then was briefly a centrist, then moved further to the left. He was not fond of women, was neutral on prayer, skeptical of free speech, sympathetic to tax protestors, and fairly consistent in his protection of the environment. He’d also shown sympathy for the rights of homosexuals.

If one were to examine the positions of any two Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, they would be hard pressed to find two who were more dissimilar that Rosenberg and Jensen.

Yet both were assassinated on the same evening.

Rosenberg met his fate while sleeping in his house on Volta Street in Georgetown and Jensen at the Montrose Theatre, a gay porno house.

Enter Darby Shaw, she’s in her early twenties and is a second year law student at Tulane. Darby was intrigued by the sudden and unexpected deaths of the two Supreme Court Justices, and her curiosity caused her to dig a little deeper. She begins by comparing the opinions and cases of the two jurists, initially, she was unable to see any obvious connection between the two men. She then began to look at cases that were likely to eventually reach the highest court and based on a hunch, Darby visits the Federal Building on Lafayette. Here she looks into the pleadings, correspondence, records of discovery and exhibits from a trial that went on the previous summer.

The lawsuit in question had its first filings seven years previously. There was only one plaintiff and thirty eight wealthy corporate defendants who collectively hired and fired no less than fifteen law firms. These were big firms with hundreds of lawyers in dozens of offices. It all amounted to seven years of expensive legal warfare and still the outcome was far from certain. The trial verdict was little more than a temporary victory for the defendants. It was beginning to look like an ongoing legal drama, one that Darby was sure would eventually land in the lap of the Supreme Court.
Then there were the motions for a new trial, based on the claims that the first trial outcome was illegally obtained. Both sides flew into action with a long list of accusations and counteraccusations.
Darby spent the next three days deep in research, then she wrote a typewritten, thirteen page brief based on her findings.

Darby then “resurfaces,” after the days she’d spent tucked away in the archives…relentlessly pursuing every bit of detail possible. Her emergence was a relief for Darby’s boyfriend, a man who also happened to be her university professor Thomas Callahan. Callahan is a popular, Constitutional Law professor at Tulane, he’s 45 years old, and was a big fan of the late Justice Rosenberg. Darby decides to hand him the brief she’s just written, and even as she does so, she wonders if her findings are too far-fetched to take seriously. Callahan is a man who enjoys his “drink,” but once he sobers, he reads his girlfriend’s report, deciding that at the very least it’s worth passing on to someone who might be able to determine if there’s anything to Darby’s theories. From there, the brief takes quite an impressive journey, beginning with a second year law student and ending on the desk of the President of the United States of America.

Callahan decides that the best person for him to give Darby’s brief to is his old college friend, Gavin Verheek. Verheek is a lawyer for the FBI, more specifically, he’s Special Counsel to Director Denton Voyles. Callahan meets with his old friend over drinks, and at the end of the evening hands him Darby’s brief. Verheek reads the brief the next day and has his assistant send it to FBI Special Agent Eric East who the director has put in charge of the Rosenberg / Jensen murder investigation. East reviews it and asks the director to read it. Voyles does so and informs East that he’s to include it as evidence in the investigation, and he also suggests that East deliver the brief to White House Chief of Staff Fletcher Coal. Coal reads the brief and brings it to the attention of the President.

Then less than two days later, Callaghan and Shaw are out for dinner. He’d drank far too much, but insists he’s okay to drive. Darby is furious with him, but is helpless to change his mind. She watches Callaghan climb into the car and suddenly it explodes, killing him instantly, and injuring her. She’s picked up by a police officer and taken to a hospital emergency ward. The officer steps away for a moment and Darby slips out of the hospital.

She’s on her own now, walking the streets alone, convinced that the bomb in Callaghan’s car was intended for her, unsure what to do next.

It’s right about this time we are introduced to Gray Grantham, an ambitious reporter for The Washington Post. Fortunately for Grantham, he has two well placed informants who can help him write a blockbuster story about the Rosenberg / Jensen murders. His contacts provide him enough information to write some very intriguing pieces, all of which are read by Darby Shaw as she darts around town, ducking into coffee shops, moving from hotel room to hotel room.

Everything I’ve written above came from the first one-third of the book. As I completed chapter 18, there were so many questions in my mind:

Who was the suspect in Darby Shaw’s mysterious brief?

Darby cannot survive on the streets forever, especially considering the extreme lengths that her unseen enemies were willing to take to kill her the first time. Who will she go to for help?

The police?

Verheek and the FBI?

Back to the university to seek shelter there?

Maybe even to Grantham, seeking the protection of The Washington Post in exchange for her story?
My mind was reeling with all the possibilities. Meanwhile, I was held captive to John Grisham’s superb storytelling skills, furiously flipping page after page every chance I got.

In the end “The Pelican Brief” turned out to be a huge suspense storytelling success that flew by far too quickly!

I enthusiastically recommend John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.”
Profile Image for Belinda Vlasbaard.
3,248 reviews50 followers
June 14, 2022
4 sterren - Nederlandse paperback

Achter gesloten deuren is, na De jury en Advocaat van de duivel, de derde grote bestseller in rij van de koning van de legal thriller: John Grisham. Evenals vele van zijn andere thrillers is ook dit boek succesvol verfilmd. De titel van de film luidt The Pelican Brief en lijkt een betere benaming voor het verhaal dan de Nederlandse betiteling.

Achter gesloten deuren vertelt het verhaal van de jonge, bloedmooie en zeer slimme rechtenstudente Darby Shaw. Zij heeft een geheime verhouding met haar docent Thomas Callahan, die constitutioneel recht doceert op de Universiteit van Tulane. Wanneer er twee rechters van het Hooggerechtshof worden vermoord, stellen zowel de FBI als de CIA een onderzoek in.

Maar het is een rapport van Darby Shaw dat het dichtst bij de verklaring van de beide moorden lijkt te komen. Het dossier, genaamd het Pelikaan-dossier, bevat een theorie dat een verband legt tussen de rijke industrieel Mattiece, die een reusachtig olieveld wil aanleggen in een beschermd natuurgebied, en het Hooggerechtshof.

De hoogste rechtszaal in de VS, waar de rechters worden aangewezen door de president, heeft namelijk besloten dat het olieveld er niet komt. De onthullingen in het Pelikaan-dossier brengen een hoop commotie teweeg. Wat is er van waar? Klopt het wat Darby Shaw schrijft? Als er een moordaanslag op Darby Shaw wordt gepleegd, is iedereen ervan overtuigd: het Pelikaan-dossier bevat de waarheid over de moorden.

Grisham doet waar hij goed in is. Hij schotelt de lezer een bloedstollend spannend verhaal voor, zich afspelend in de wereld van het recht. Hij leidt de lezer rond in de gesloten ruimtes van de FBI, de CIA, het Witte Huis en The Washington Post. Journalist Gray Grantham speelt een belangrijke rol in het verhaal. De president, en zijn rechterhand Coal, nemen het dossier niet al te serieus, ook omdat de verdachte uit het dossier, de miljonair Mattiece, een belangrijke financier van de verkiezings- campagne van de president was.

Het Witte Huis sommeert de FBI en de CIA om zich op andere verdachten te richten, en het dossier links te laten liggen. Dus besluit Darby Shaw zelf het een en ander uit te pluizen. Hierbij krijgt ze hulp van Gray Grantham. Samen stuiten ze op een aantal verontrustende feiten. Feiten die ertoe leiden dat Shaw en Grantham moeten vluchten, want onbekenden hebben het op hun leven voorzien..

Een spannend kat-en-muis-spel volgt. John Grisham spant een boog en laat pas tegen het eind van het boek los, als de waarheid aan het licht komt. Subliem bouwt hij de spanning op. De personages passen perfect en komen goed tot uiting. Alleen Fletcher Coal, de assistent van de president lijkt me een ongeloofwaardig figuur. De president van de VS laat zich in dit boek te vaak het kaas van zijn brood eten door deze eigenzinnige Coal en dat is iets wat zich in de werkelijkheid nooit zou kunnen afspelen. Toch?

Achter gesloten deuren is een page-turner, een must-read en sleurt je voor enkele uren mee naar de wereld van John Grisham, die niets voor niets de koning van de legal thriller wordt genoemd.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
3,995 reviews316 followers
July 1, 2019
Ehh... I tried. I enjoyed several of John Grisham's other works, including Rainmaker, but this one just felt, IDK, almost thrown together to me. I did not get very far into it before I decided that this was a DNF. I still recommend some of Grisham's other work, but this one was a definite miss.
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