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The Brethren

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They call themselves the Brethren: three disgraced former judges doing time in a Florida federal prison. One was sent up for tax evasion. Another, for skimming bingo profits. The third for a career-ending drunken joyride.

Meeting daily in the prison law library, taking exercise walks in their boxer shorts, these judges-turned-felons can reminisce about old court cases, dispense a little jailhouse justice, and contemplate where their lives went wrong. Or they can use their time in prison to get very rich—very fast. ...

384 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 2000

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About the author

John Grisham

452 books74.4k 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.
9,566 reviews55.9k followers
January 29, 2022
The Brethren, John Grisham

The Brethren is a legal thriller novel by American author John Grisham, published in 2000.

They call themselves the Brethren: three disgraced former judges doing time in a Florida federal prison. One was sent up for tax evasion. Another, for skimming bingo profits. The third for a career-ending drunken joyride.

Meeting daily in the prison law library, taking exercise walks in their boxer shorts, these judges-turned-felons can reminisce about old court cases, dispense a little jailhouse justice, and contemplate where their lives went wrong. Or they can use their time in prison to get very rich—very fast. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «برادران»؛ «اخوان»؛ «برادر خوانده ها»؛ نویسنده: جان گریشام؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز دوم ماه اکتبر سال2002میلادی

عنوان: برادران؛ نویسنده: جان گریشام؛ مترجم فریده مهدوی دامغانی؛ تهران، نشر مرداد، سال1379؛ در548ص؛ شابک9647116012؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده21م

عنوان: برادر خوانده ها؛ نویسنده: ج‍ان‌ گ‍ری‍ش‍ام‌؛ مت‍رج‍م هادی عادلپور؛ تهران، کوشش، سال1379؛ در478ص؛ شابک9646326625؛

عنوان: برادران؛ نویسنده: جان گریشام؛ مترجم: پرتو اشراق؛ تهران، جار، سال1379؛ در432ص؛ شابک9649057467؛

عنوان: اخ‍وان‌؛ نویسنده: ج‍ان‌ گ‍ری‍ش‍ام‌؛ مت‍رج‍م س‍ی‍د ج‍واد ص‍ال‍ح‍ی‌؛ شیراز، نوید شیراز، سال1384؛ در448ص؛ شابک9643582159؛

برادران یک رمان هیجان انگیز حقوقی، از نویسنده «آمریکایی»: «جان گریشام»، که نخستین بار در سال2000میلادی منتشر شده است؛

در این رمان، نبرد و رقابت پنهانی دو قدرت جهان، یعنی «آمریکا» و «روسیه»، بازگو شده؛ موضوع اصلی، رویدادهای، مربوط به بازار سیاه اسلحه، به ویژه سلاح‌های هسته‌ ای است؛ قهرمانان اصلی رمان، دو چهره ی برجسته از مقامات «امریکایی» هستند؛

شخصیت نخست، «آرون لیک» نماینده ی کنگره ی «آمریکا»ست؛ که حوزه ی نمایندگی او «آریزونا»، مرکز اجرای چهار قرارداد دفاعی است؛ وی متخصص بزرگ سلاح‌های تازه، و تئوری‌های دفاعی، به شمار می‌آید، و از سویی ریاست کمیسیون نیروهای مسلح را برعهده دارد؛

شخصیت دوم، «تدی مینارد» رئیس «سیا» است، کسی که با پنجاه سال پیشینه ی نظامی، استاد بزرگ جنگ‌های جاسوسی، به شمار می‌رود؛

نقل از متن برادر خوانده ها؛ (مثل همیشه، برای شرکت در جلسه هفتگی رسیدگی به پرونده های حقوقی، همان پیژامه کهنه و رنگ و رو رفته را پوشید، و کفشهای حمام را، بدون جوراب به پا کرد؛ از ظاهر پیژامه، معلوم بود که مدتها پیش، بلوطی رنگ بوده است؛ این مرد، تنها کسی نبود، که برای انجام کارهای روزانه اش، پیژامه میپوشید؛ ولی هیچکس غیر از او، جرات نداشت کفش «مام» به پا کند؛ نامش: «ت کارل» بود، و یک وقتی در «بوستن»، بانکداری میکرد؛ اما آن پیژامه و کفشها به اندازه ی کلاه گیس، ایجاد زحمت نمیکرد که از وسط دو قسمت میشد، و با چین و شکن فراوان از طرفین آویزان بود.)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 27/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 08/11/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,317 reviews4,839 followers
August 14, 2020

2.5 stars

Note: The Brethren was published in 2000, so the social issues may seem a little out-of-sync with current times.....or maybe not.


Trumble Federal Prison near Jacksonville, Florida is a minimum security facility that hardly seems like a penitentiary: it has no fences, decent food, recreational facilities, and - as it turns out - opportunities for serious mischief.

Three of Trumble's older inmates are dubbed 'The Brethren': Joe Roy Spicer - a onetime Mississippi justice of the peace; Finn Yarber - a former California Supreme Court justice; and Hatlee Beech - an erstwhile federal judge from Texas. The Brethren handle appeals for other convicts; hold a weekly 'prison court' to iron out disputes among prisoners; and perpetrate a scam to rake in the moola.

The Brethren's scam involves 'catfishing' closeted homosexual men who can't risk being outed. To perpetrate the hoax, the judges - using the name Ricky - place an ad in an alternative lifestyle magazine.

Ricky says that he's in a rehab facility, feels very lonely, and would like to correspond with a mature man. In the accompanying photo, Ricky seems to be a handsome young guy with an irresistible crooked smile.

When men answer Ricky's ad, the judges check them out. If the responder has money and a family, Ricky (really Judge Yarber or Judge Beech) writes back. He inveigles the victim into an epistolary love affair, asks for cash for incidentals, and arranges to meet when he gets out of rehab.

Eventually, the judges lower the boom. They tell the poor dupe he's been scammed and demand $100,000 (or more).....or they'll send copies of the letters to his wife.

The Brethren need an outside person to assist with their scam, so they hire a shlubby local lawyer named Trevor Carson.

Trevor sneaks letters in and out of Trumble, handles the blackmail money, and investigates victims as needed (for example, if they use fake names).

Meanwhile, the United States is in the midst of a presidential campaign and CIA Dirctor Teddy Maynard - who's worried about Russian aggression - plans to get his candidate elected.

Teddy has chosen Congressman Aaron Lake, a quiet widower whose one campaign issue (dictated by Teddy) is to double defense spending.

Teddy coerces contributors (mostly weapons manufacturers) to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Lake's campaign and - even worse - permits (or organizes) terrorist activities to frighten the American public. Lake keeps rising in the polls, and it appears that he'll be a shoo-in for President.

As many readers will guess, it turns out that Aaron Lake is a secret homosexual who gets caught up in The Brethren's flimflam. When the CIA Director gets wind of this, he'll do whatever it takes to 'save' his candidate. Moreover, Teddy has the whole CIA at his disposal!

For the rest of the book, the judges and Teddy's operatives try to out-think and outmaneuver each other. The CIA bugs cars, homes, and offices; looks into bank accounts; follows people; and so on. But the judges are wily fellows.....and they make worthy opponents.

There's not a single likable main character in this book and I hoped every single one of them would go down in flames. Of course that doesn't happen (and I really didn't really expect it to). Nevertheless, I was disappointed in the book's finale. In addition, there's a whiff of homophobia about the story (IMO)....though this may have been unintentional.

One thing I do like about the book is the judges garb for 'prison court.' The judges wear lime green robes (sometimes with nothing underneath) and the 'bailiff' wears a long wig (like British barristers) and lavender slippers. One of the judges goes barefoot, and makes it his business to crack his toes and clean his toenails while adjudicating. All this is pretty amusing.

This isn't one of Grisham's better efforts, but he's a capable writer and the story held my attention. Still, I can't wholeheartedly recommend this book.

You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Perry.
631 reviews502 followers
April 2, 2017
The Sort of Book Most Appreciated by People who Move their Lips While Reading

Grisham pulled the plot of this novel from infamous prison pen pal scams near me in Louisiana and Mississippi in the late 1980s. The scam worked like this: the prisoner would engage an unwitting, relatively well off, closeted gay male in harmless discourse by letters which would gradually progress to professions of "love" and then explicit homo-erotic letters and ultimately one phone call by which point, the prisoner would have his hooks in the man, who typically had a wife and kids, and the blackmailing would begin.

I read nearly all the Grisham novels prior to my literary renascence starting in 2009. Even then, this novel seemed unrealistic and false, lacking a shred of suspense. You know what, I must maintain honesty in reviewing: [[ THIS BOOK SUCKED .]]

It's a bullshit novel, so shallow, contrived, legally implausible and farcical that it deserves a place in the checkout line right between The Globe and The National Enquirer. Grisham must have been considering quitting his writing gig or was pissed off about having to write this, for whatever reason, say maybe because of contractual obligations when he wanted nothing else but to spend his cash traveling the world, or doing anything else besides writing legal thrillers.

"Scientists are now using lawyers instead of rats for their experiments. There are two reasons for this. The scientists don't become attached to the lawyers and there are some things rats won't do.
Robin Williams as a grown Peter Pan in Hook (1991, Tri Star).
Profile Image for Susan.
31 reviews2 followers
March 26, 2009
I like John Grisham as a writer, but not this book.

Three things:


There was something about the homophobia in the novel that made me squeamish. I understand there are homophobes, but there was nothing in this novel to offset it. It's a dominate theme in the novel, normal and accepted, as if there is no alternative to homophobia.

The reader gets to know the inner workings of the minds of some of the worst lowlifes in the book, which is amusing at times. Not so with the protagonist. In fact, I'm not sure there is a protagonist. The character who most resembles a good guy is allowing himself to be bought and sold - and he's no hero. In terms of character development, he's a stereotype of the corrupt politician who speaks in sound bytes.

The ending: Anticlimactic. A cop out. No justice. A huge disappointment.

Overall, this is one of the most cynical novels I've read in a long time.
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
March 3, 2021
A stand alone (no courtrooms in sight) thriller published 2000.

4 stars for a good yarn

Let me start by saying this is a tale of three incarcerated judges who are running an extortion racket from inside gaol. On the surface this was entertaining in its own right but, for me, the real story was much darker and very scary.
The racket was that the prisoners would place adds in gay magazines pretending to be young men looking for meaningful relationships with older men. Most of the men who replied were men leading double lives and once they were hooked the judges would threaten to expose them unless they paid up big time.
This went well for some time until they hooked the wrong man at the wrong time.
The wrong man was a leading contender in the political race for the white house.
Where the story got scary was when the head of the CIA wanted the incumbent president to increase military spending to counter a perceived Russian threat.
The President told the head of the CIA “that he could fly a kite; it was not going to happen whilst he was the president”.
This left the head of the CIA with a dilemma. If the President won’t do as he is told we’ll just have to find one that will.
What follows is a very credible tale of how the CIA went about using their inside knowledge and power to discredit the incumbent president and push their hand picked congressman to the White House. Watching how the media, the politicians and ultimately the populous are manipulated makes for scary reading.
But in a world of secrets there was one secret that the CIA did not know, their candidate was gay and the judges were turning the screws.
Entertaining but it put a shiver up my spine all the same.

Profile Image for Heidi.
1,201 reviews129 followers
February 23, 2022

Nearly half way through The Brethren and I’m out.

Greed with a capital G is on display in every nuance of this book.

Greedy crooks. Greedy politicians. Greedy CIA. Greedy lobbyists.

Not a single character worth rooting for and that’s my main reason for moving on.
Profile Image for Francesc.
382 reviews193 followers
October 10, 2020
Un libro entretenido y poco más. El típico best-seller fácil de leer y que, al terminarlo, lo guardas en la estantería y es difícil que lo vuelvas a encontrar.

An entertaining book and little more. The typical best-seller that is easy to read and when you finish it, you put it on the shelf and it's hard to find again.
Profile Image for Asghar Abbas.
Author 3 books191 followers
May 31, 2021

Undoubtedly well written and undeniably funny. Often cited as his funniest book, so very entertaining. Although, lack of a definite protagonist was irksome, really bothered me. I demand absolutes and neatly ordained worlds in fiction, or else it's pointless.

Plus, it was scary how a presidential candidate can be so easily controlled and selected; the whole selection could be that manipulative with such precision. That didn't seem fictional at all.

Profile Image for Margitte.
1,146 reviews500 followers
March 10, 2014
The Bretheren was published in 2000, one year before 9/11, which makes it a remarkable read, and for those who read it at the time, must have been flabbergasted at the horrific event of that day, September 11, 2001 in New York.

In the marketing world an expression is used which rings true for everything in life: You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough - Joseph E. Levine. Another concept is to first create a need(if there isn't an existing one) for a product, otherwise it won't sell. At first glance the statement appears too simple to really grasp the impact it has on politics, industry, even conservation, but it is the most powerful concept in use today.

The story, almost too fictional to be complete fiction, has this idea as starting point and proceed to implement it in a highly suspenseful drama in which three incarcerated judges execute a scam which works perfectly until they target the 'wrong' man. This man had the clout to make their actions look like a Sunday school picnic, which in the end, it was.

For the uninformed, this tale is just a fantasy, but for those in the know, it is a disturbing hit too close to home for comfort. And for those who think the events cannot be possible, believe me, it is not only possible, it happens all the time!

I enjoyed the book just as much as all the other John Grishams I have read through the years. It helps that he was a practising lawyer and know the ropes....mmm...yes...definitely the ropes

Thrilling, suspenseful and informative. Loved it.
Profile Image for Natalie Vellacott.
Author 9 books854 followers
February 13, 2018
Another Grisham novel ticked off my very long list!

The Brethren is not one of the author's best works. The pace is significantly slower, in some places, than his other novels. However, it still contains enough drama to keep the reader wanting to know what happens at the end. Grisham's books are also not easily skim read because the plot details are skillfully woven together and you might miss something important rendering the book nonsensical.

Trumble is a minimum security federal prison which houses relatively harmless (in terms of violence) criminals. Three former judges have established themselves as The Brethren and together they pass judgement on their fellow inmates, a sort-of jailhouse justice. When the opportunity presents itself, they expand to the outside with the help of Trevor, a corrupt and lazy lawyer. They begin an extortion scheme by tricking victims into believing they are conversing with young gay males then threatening to expose them to their family and friends. However, the time comes when they chance to mess with the wrong victim, someone with powerful friends who will stop at nothing to protect their client's reputation....

The novel contains the usual mixture of corruption at the heart of government, the judicial system and within the intelligence service. Unfortunately, the slightly seedy topic that has been chosen for this book leaves one feeling a little uncomfortable. Grisham does a good job of painting the victims as pathetic, helpless wretches at the mercy of their passions. He fails to consider the plight of their ever suffering wives and families because of their failure to keep their passions in check. God calls it lust, which is a sin. Grisham presents it as if they have been ensnared by life and are forever trapped, unable to move forward....poor creatures.

I note that this was published in 2000. I'm not sure whether it would receive as wide an audience now due to changing attitudes about homosexuality across the board.

That said, I always like the way Grisham draws out the deceit of wealth, and this novel is no exception:

He was selling his ethics, his standards, even his morals for money. Was his soul worth a million bucks? Too late now. The money was in the bank. He took a sip of beer and washed away the fading twinges of guilt

The reality is that burying our heads in the sand, or drinking away our guilt, won't help on Judgement Day when we all have to give God an account of our lives. In His mercy, God has given us consciences to regulate our behaviour so that we don't stack up offences against Him. It is good that Grisham's characters are fictional, but let's hope those reading them don't copy the behaviour.

This book has some swearing but it isn't strong or frequent, it has some details of lust and sexual feelings, but they aren't graphic. It has some references to violence but nothing significant.

My rating is due to the subject matter and the fact that there are better Grisham books out there.

Check out my John Grisham Shelf!
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews183 followers
July 19, 2018
The Brethren is, like most of Grisham's books, a legal thriller. The central characters are multiple, and so are the plot lines but the narrative is easy to follow and understand. The book is quite readable. It might be called a page turner, as the narrative is pretty eventful, thought one could always say that the 'page turning quality' is ultimately dependent on personal taste. The Brethren contains a fair amount of social satire, and perhaps we could say that is what sets it aside from other similar books. Apart from that, I would say that The Brethren is pretty much everything a good legal thriller is ought to be, interesting and well paced. One thing worth noting is that this book doesn't focus on murder as much as on a 'cat and mouse' play.

Basically, the plot and introduction to the story could be described as following: Three former judges ( calling themselves the Brethren) are located in minimal security prison. There these judges are allowed to put together a sort of 'quasi-parody trials' and solve cases of prisoners with their consent. Their 'trials' are highly entertaining because everyone is expected to lie, being that everyone there is a criminal and all that. So, the 'judges' resort to common sense, presumably with some success. If you enjoy criticism of the legal system, reading these passages will be an absolutely delightful experience. I'm digressing a bit here, since these 'trials' don't really have anything to do with the plot, but I think they are worth pointing out as they were extremely well written.

Anyhow, these former judges also do some legal services for other prisoners, which they obviously (and illegally) charge but since that work doesn't prove to be very profitable, they also plan a con job: placing a lone heart advert in a gay newspaper and extracting money from rich lonesome (preferably married) gay man by means of blackmail. These three judges have all the time in the world, and have learned to be very patient. They also have a horrible lawyer on their side, so it seems their victims really don't stand a chance. I have to say these judges were very convincing characters, as much as I hated what they were doing, I was also fascinated by their fate. What do you think would happen with a 'former' middle aged judge that has fallen from grace? It's an interesting question.

Besides the 'judges' plot, there is also a parallel plot featuring mister Lake, a rare specimen of what seems to be an honest politician. Lake is a widowed man, a congressmen who never broke the law and seems to be actually doing his job, i.e. serving the people. In other words, Lake is just what the CIA's director wants. What the CIA's director wants is a sure win presidential candidate they can control. What could Lake possibly have in common with the judges? How will they paths cross? Is CIA money all it takes to win an USA election? Well, you'll have to read this book to see but not everything is what it seems.

I read this novel a couple of days ago (while I was recovering from an incredibly painful operation which was also a horrible failure so imagine my mood & sentiments). The book was exactly what I expected it to be, and it that sense I can honestly say that I'm not disappointed. I quite liked the implied irony and sarcasm of this novel. If you want to read someone who is able subtly make fun of election system, politicians, secret services, legal system and prisons, The Brethren is a novel for you. Here you basically have a story without a moral character. Everyone is corrupted, one way or another. You can't love these characters, but it's hard to hate them either. They're so human you're compelled to ,if not sympathize with them, then to understand them.

What are the faults of this novel? I wouldn't say there are any explicit faults, it's more a case of it not being a very ambitious book. The book was a bit too long for my taste, I would have preferred it to be shorter. Maybe it was just little old me, but I felt some things were needlessly repeated and dragged on. The ending didn't feel realistic, but it kind of made sense in the context of the novel so I won't complain too much. There was a point when I expected it to develop into something more sinister (and interesting) but the narrative remained pretty standard. Once the parallel plots got interwoven, there weren't many surprises. Towards the end, I could definitely see things coming, but somehow the book kept my interest. So I'd say that despite having some minor faults, The Brethren is definitely a compelling read.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this novel, but I can't say that I learned anything from it. I was entertained and that was about it. I've read Grisham's works before, I'm familiar with his style and honestly in many ways this book didn't feel like anything new. I did think that the idea of imprisoned judges plotting away was quite fresh, so that was kind of cool. I don't remember seeing this idea/concept anywhere else, so bonus points for originality. What else to say? Grisham's legal thrillers are what he is known for and they are usually pretty good. I can certainly appreciate his simple and descriptive style of writing. I might read more of him. I would recommend this book to lovers of social satire and legal thrillers.
Profile Image for koni BOO.
33 reviews8 followers
September 12, 2022

Wow, I’m kinda proud of myself because of the fact that I finished a book in less than 5 days!

I found it quite boring at the first half and if I’m honest, I’m not very motivated to write a whole review like I’ve done before… so I guess long reviews really depend on my mood.

But anyways, as I said, first half was a bit… boring and didn’t quite trap me cause I was trying not to fall asleep at every single phrase, however the second half was quite enjoyable and, wow, I also found it funny! I wasn’t expecting any less of the humor because after reading the testament (that made me giggle every once in a while, ngl) I wasn’t expecting to be that bored.

There wasn’t really a main character so uh, I guess I really was conflicted with myself because I truly had no idea if I had to support someone on the book- and if I had to support someone, then did I have to support the “bad guys”? I was so confused by that but eh, it was still a decent narrative.

The plot was alright, I enjoyed some parts of it and found some others quite- unnecessary but oh well.

PS: I can’t think of a song that could match with this book 💀
Profile Image for Phil.
1,538 reviews88 followers
September 18, 2022
Decent read by Grisham, but definitely not his best. The Brethren are three judges all serving time in a Florida Federal prison outside of Jacksonville for various scandalous deeds. One story arc concerns them and their "Angola" scheme (something like this did happen in Angola prison) to extort money from rich, closeted gay men. They took out an ad in some magazines, claiming they were in their 20s and looking for older men to be pen pals with. They had a picture of some guy to send the 'marks', and gradually try to reel them in by threating to expose them to their wives, etc. Their conduit to the outside is a sleazy drunk lawyer who pockets a third of their ill gotten gains.

The other story arc concerns the director of the CIA and the man he picks to be the next president. The CIA guy is an old Cold Warrior and is worried about Russia making a come-back. I should mention that this was first published in 2000. The director of the CIA picked a relatively unknown congressman from Arizona (Aaron Lake), promised him lots and lots of money, plus some rather unpleasant disasters in foreign lands (bombings, what have you) if he will run with a promise to double the defense budget. The disasters would promote a rally around the flag impulse for the American public and get Lake elected.

First off, there are no real characters to root for here; every one is sleazy and corrupt. Lake comes off the best, but still, he has no real moral values and is willing to be a CIA stooge to get elected president. The judges are terrible people and the various CIA agents are as amoral as their boss. Secondly, The Brethren has more than a whiff of homophobia and all the characters involved obviously despise the 'perverts' they extort. Hard to believe this was published in 2000! Finally, this must be the most cynical novel I have read in some time. Politics is all just about money and favors; elections can be bought, even the presidency. Not one of the characters has a stick of moral fiber.

I should say, however, that this novel is also a bit prophetic. We did get a Republican elected in 2000 and yes, he ramped up the military spending, started a few wars, etc. The federal budget surplus was also given away to tax cuts to the rich; both of these events were somewhat foretold here. This is a fast paced read, but for all that, rather boring as well. You know somehow there will be a connection between Lake and the brethren (pen pals...) leaving the big question of how the CIA will manage it when they find out. I was wavering between 2 and 3 stars on this one, but decided on 2, due to the horrible, amoral characters and the blatant homophobia.
Profile Image for Louie the Mustache Matos.
909 reviews62 followers
February 3, 2022
Over the course of my life, I have read several John Grisham novels. I have generally found them engaging, entertaining, and illuminating. I completed The Brethren some time ago and have found myself ruminating on this book for a while, which I believe is something I should do way more often. On the one hand, the concept of three incarcerated former judges performing their judicial responsibilities while wards of the state are intriguing. Granted the jail in this case is a minimum-security federal facility, more a detention resort if you will, but I found almost every character unbearably unlikeable. More to the issue is that I had never read this book, nor about this book, and I find the overtly homophobic plot troubling. Within the first few pages, a gay inmate is portrayed in clownish parody and from there it gets worse. These judges are the main characters. They have employed a catfish scheme designed to embarrass closeted men and threaten to out them if they refuse to accept the blackmail. I, immediately thought, “Who gives a $#!+?” Maybe at the time this was written, there was a huge stigma, but I thank God that we have moved passed such behavior (to a certain extent.) Once I began to understand the framework that was being constructed, it is very easy to determine where the author is going when the subplot of a national election is introduced. This was pretty bad. I read every word and feel lessened by the experience. So, if you respect my opinion and want to read a Grisham novel (there are some good ones) this is not it. Avoid this one.
2 reviews
December 12, 2008

The Brethren by John Grisham

I found this to be a pretty interesting book. It is the story of the brethren, three ex-judges in a low-security prison called Trumble, who come up with a scheme to extort money from older homosexual men. Two victims and one hundred eighty-nine thousand dollars into the scam the judges run across their biggest victim of all – Aaron Lake. He is the next president to be and seems to have a lot to offer.

One of the cool parts of this book is how much of the story happens in a prison. If you are not in the prison with the brethren you are probably traveling with Aaron Lake around the United States on the campaign trail or with Trevor, the brethren’s lawyer, in Neptune Beach.

John Grisham makes the brethren by far the best characters in the book. Joe Roy Spicer is an ex-Justice of the Peace sent to Trumble for skimming bingo profits. Hatlee Beech was a federal judge with a drinking problem that led to the death of a two hikers in Yellowstone. The last is Finn Yarber – Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court sent away for income tax evasion. The attitude of the brethren is very comical. They have “court” once a week in Trumble and their answer to one of the questions was “It’s whatever we say it is.”

Aaron Lake is portrayed in this book as a very boring character. If there is downside to this book he would be it. He is the up-and-coming president having been appointed by the CIA director to save the United States and maybe even the world. Yet he does nothing interesting; except his secret letters to a homosexual boy in rehab. This is a problem in more ways than one because the boy is actually the brethren running their fabulous scam.

Trevor is probably my favorite character in the book. He runs the letters of the brethren and their victims back and forth between the post office and Trumble. He has a severe problem with alcohol but that just makes him more interesting. Some of his “colleagues” were not drinking so he said to them “Guess I’ll have to drink for all three of us.” Funny comments like this are a big reason why I liked the book so much.

The main theme of The Brethren is not the type of theme you normally hear. Usually you will hear the moral “crime never pays” or “crime doesn’t pay.” To me, it seems like the theme of this book is the complete opposite--that crime does pay. To find out what I mean by that it looks like you will have to read the book.

Page Count: 440

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Profile Image for Deborah Ideiosepius.
1,584 reviews123 followers
January 17, 2021
From inside Trumble, a minimum security federal prison, three former judges calling themselves 'The Brethren' organise a legal advice and inmate 'social trial' system. Their main occupation however is running a mail extortion scam, they have carefully and meticulously set it up to make a great deal of money for a few unfortunate victims.

Outside, in the real world a CIA heavy is planning to back a political candidate in order to increase military spending. It is a beautifully organised campaign that has people excited and backers lining up to fund it. It also has the perfect man to lead it, Aaron Lake is a career politician with not a single blemish on his life or career. He is the perfect candidate.

And then, the Brethren choose the wrong target...

We all know John Grisham don't we? He is an institution and even if you have not read a lot of his novels, you are bound to have seen one of the movies made from them. It had been a long time since I had read a thriller, so it took me a while to get into the mindset and the writing style. But once I had, I enjoyed reading it considerably. The plot is solid, with good scenarios and well it is a well developed novel. I have been reading a lot of indie recently, so reading a professionally edited, professionally written, well printed and produced novel was a bit of a holiday. The characters are.... well written, if a tad bit generic. It took me a while to get them sorted in my head, especially the inmates. They were described so much in the third person and it took me about half the book for the individual differences to really kick in. That was ok, you didn't really NEED to tell them apart at first, and there were not that many other characters so it did not really interfere with the story.

In all it was a fun novel, which I enjoyed and I will remember the author next time I am looking for a very Americano style, well written, thriller.
Profile Image for Amanda.
141 reviews
May 23, 2008
I'm looking for something somewhat mindless and suspenseful.. and this has been lying around my apartment for a long while. It's probably been 10 years since I've read a Grisham novel, but I used to just tear through them. Plus it seems to have a presidential election as part of the plot. How appropriate!

5/23: Finally finished this. I have to say it wasn't high on my reading priorities list as I was reading it. So I dragged my heels a lot. That plus I really wasn't digging it too much. Early on in the story, I almost stopped reading the book altogether, when the CIA becomes aware that the US Embassy in Cairo is targeted to be bombed and just lets it happen. And of course lots of people die. I'm wondering if this would have affected me as much if I hadn't visited Embassy Cairo, if my mom hadn't worked there, and if my family didn't work for the foreign service. Who knows.

Also I found I didn't really care for any of the characters. They weren't very likeable. There was no "hero" because even the protagonists (if you want to call them that) were completely unsavory guys doing unsavory things. Plus the end was rather anti-climactic. Again, it's been ages since I've read a Grisham book, but I feel like they were typically much more gripping than this one was. One thing I'll say for it though - it was published in 2000, and the idea that the government engineers and creates war (sometimes at the expense of American lives) is very prevalent in this book. Interesting.
Profile Image for Gary.
2,590 reviews362 followers
August 7, 2021
I have now read around a dozen of John Grisham's books and I have to be honest this was my least favourite one so far. There were large parts of the book that do have the John Grisham magic but generally the plot was drawn out and tiresome. Once it does get get going the book improves but again it is let down by a very disappointing ending.
Profile Image for Meghan.
19 reviews11 followers
January 7, 2020
Fast-paced and gripping story, liked it a lot!
Profile Image for Corey.
414 reviews96 followers
January 29, 2020
Another enjoyable and easy-read by Grisham, for a while for me it was extremely hard to follow, where the main part of the story involves a scam, and for the longest time I wasn't sure who was scamming who, the story kept jumping around, but as it progressed it all started to some together.

They call themselves The Brethren, a trio of three-stooges type disgraced former judges who have been doing time in a minimum Florida federal prison known as Trumble. #1 is sent to prison for Tax Evasion, #2 for skimming bingo profits, and #3 for a career-ending drunken joyride But just because they're in prison doesn't mean they can't still break the law.

They have dreamt up a perfect scam, to pose as homosexuals looking for Pen Pals, their motive, to scam and exploit their pen pals. Then one day, Congressman Aaron Lake is running for President of the United States in hoping to expand America's Military capabilities, with a corrupt government official pulling the strings. Realizing that Lake is hooked by the Brethren and their scam, the conspirators must prevent them from discovering the truth. The Brethren have found the perfect victim.

As I said up above, really hard to follow for awhile, no idea where Grisham was going with the story, but then things started adding up the further I got. A fun political/legal thriller worth checking out!
Profile Image for Nathan.
27 reviews3 followers
June 18, 2009
Let me make a confession. I only checked this book out because, sitting in my bar review course on Constitutional Law, the teacher made a reference to a book titled "The Brethren" that purported to report that the clerks (and some of the Justices themselves) on the Surpeme Court would hold 'movie day' where they would watch the evidentiary movies that were being appealed on First Amendment obscenity-content/free-speech grounds. Such a statement was so absurd to me that I had to find-out for myself whether this was true.

As it turns out, there is a seperate book titled 'The Brethren,' not by Grisham, that may or may not tell the story. But I didn't find this out until I got done reading his.

That being said, this book has nothing whatsoever to do with the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States, for those not in the know). It is an interesting book about how to get elected president and also how to run the perfect scam. Not a Hollywood ending in this one. It would surprise me if it is ever made into a movie. In this one, all the wrong doers eventually get away with all the wrongdoing that they perpetuate.

But is it entertaining and interesting nonetheless.
Profile Image for Steph.
34 reviews2 followers
April 7, 2012
I'm not usually a John Grisham fan. As a lawyer, I read to escape the drama of my daily life, not to be immersed in another attorney's fictional version of what he wishes our occupation looked like. However, this book far exceeded my expectations. The writing was creative, descriptive, and exciting, with incredible attention to detail. Although technically a drama, reading this book felt like an adventure I did not want to end.

This wasn't a book about the law, or lawyers, or the legal field. Half of the story takes place in a federal prison, and there is a lawyer in it (if you can call him that), but that's really the extent of "The Law" in this book (except for the eccentric Kangaroo Court, of course). Thankfully.

The plot-line could have been very one-dimensional, but it wasn't. Instead, I counted a minimum of five separate plot-lines that all intertwined to make an exciting novel that ended far too soon. And far too abruptly.
Profile Image for Marty Reeder.
Author 2 books37 followers
February 6, 2008
I would not say I'm a reluctant John Grisham reader. I just haven't felt a dying urge to search out his novels. Maybe I'm just afraid of any sort of legal setting and try to avoid it in any medium it's presented in. Finally, I picked up a paperback of Grisham's novel, Runaway Jury and plodded through it. Certainly he can present some very intriguing characters and situations, and his mastery of plot intricacies and how it plays out demonstrated to me why he has garnered the bestselling status he has. And yet, halfway through the book, I realized that, though all the characters were interesting, I didn't connect personally with any of them. They all seemed to be despicable, corrupted characters going about and doing despicable, corrupted deeds. Well, it's hard for me to not finish a book I've started, so I plodded through anyways, not really caring about the result. Imagine my surprise when Grisham pulled it off. He had a slam bang plot twist at the end, plus, he completely redeemed my view of a couple of the characters. I loved Runaway Jury and became an instant Grisham fan. By saying that, I don't mean, of course, that I went out and actually read more of his stuff (I mean, let's not get too carried away here), but I sure did like his one book I read. Fast forward a couple years (or a ton, I guess I'm not getting any younger). With a few minutes on hand and desperate to keep myself from using those few minutes from actually thinking in any way, I picked up the nearest book at hand in my parent's house. John Grisham's, The Brethren. Once again, Grisham reeled me in with an interesting premise and intriguing characters. About halfway through the novel, once again, I began to complain to my wife that there was no redeemable character, no one to root for, nothing to ultimately care about. As I told her this, I realized that Grisham must be pulling another one-two on me. Brilliant. He's hiding one of his good characters again and there will be a carefully contrived twist at the end. Bravo! With this in mind, I read much more enthusiastically. I even thought I figured out which character would be redeemed. I had it all worked out in my mind and wondered how Grisham was going to pull it off to match. And how did he? ... well, to my frustration, he didn't. No character redemption. No twist. The story ended, and that was it. Why? Why would Grisham do that? He had the ability ... he even had a probable character with which to do it ... but he chose the anti-climax instead. I have several theories. He was bitter that they changed parts of Runaway Jury for the movie, so he ensured that he would make this story completely unfilmable. Take that, Hollywood! Or, he was planning on turning it all around at the end, but he never figured out how to do it, a deadline came, so he just finished it and turned it in. Those are two major possibilities, but I suspect it was something different. I suspect he came up with a cool plot idea, and then decided to play it out. Then, at the end, the pay off is that the guys get away with their scheme. Ehhhh. I suppose that is a semi-forgivable offense. Unfortunately, the only way that works is if the reader isn't fully aware of some aspect of the scheme and then it is all revealed at the end and we are wowed and like the story. Not in this case. The scheme is given away, pretty much in its entirety, right off the bat. Therefore, when they get away with it in the end, I thought ... well, yeah, that's what they had planned. What's the big deal? Besides that, their big heist was something they couldn't have planned for and stumbled into by sheer dumb luck. So what do we have at the end? Unsympathetic criminals deceiving unsympathetic victims in a predictable, non-climax ending. Well, my Grisham experience is 1-1. I'm not looking for a tiebreaker, but I have a funny feeling one will end up finding me someday anyway.
Profile Image for ScrappyMags.
597 reviews242 followers
October 28, 2010
Thought this was a great Grisham book, though a bit predictable, it was well-written, suspense-driven, fast-paced, a book that kept my interest and made me want to read more.
Profile Image for Sharon.
291 reviews6 followers
April 30, 2013
John Grisham is one of my favorite authors, and I have a lot of respect for him. The characters in this book, however, were despicable. And thus, two stars. It's only redeeming value to me was the fact that it took place in Florida, near Jacksonville and Orange Park, where I have lived in the past. The story itself was completely and utterly depressing, and even more so because I feel that an author of Grisham's stature and qualifications will have done his research and that the premise is sound. Three judges in federal prison in Florida are running a scam. They pretend to be homosexual males and correspond with closet homosexuals on the outside. They persuade them to send money, which they deposit into an offshore bank, with the help of their sleazy lawyer. The problem is that one of their correspondents is now running for President of the United States. In comes the CIA, and they fix the situation for Teddy, the Director, who is the primary supporter of the candidate. If you believe in the American justice system, or have faith that the best man wins in a Presidential election, then don't read this book. Your ideals will be quashed. Grisham has done an excellent job of demonstrating just how far people with power can go to get what they want.
Profile Image for Susan - on semi hiatus.
410 reviews111 followers
December 7, 2019
I read this book when it was first published and then read it again years later.

Of the several novels I've read by this author, this is the only one causing me to smile at various intervals throughout.

It contains a multitude of sly humor seeping up from the pages, whether it's situational, character development, interactions, or dialog.

The story of three judges remanded to federal prison, they're resourceful and creative in raising money for their planned 'release'. Not particularly likable, they ARE funny and exist in situations of their own provocation.

In fact, most, if not all characters in this book are not people you'd like to know, so I was actually rooting for the protagonists not to get caught.

When I re-read this many years later, it wasn't quite so humorous and I was struck by several politically incorrect comments not noticed the first time around. They may be trigger inducing for some.

I don't know if this stood the test of time and how others will respond...
Profile Image for Христо Блажев.
2,182 reviews1,424 followers
July 10, 2018
Братята просто не знаят кога да се спрат: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/b...

Сюжетът, ако има и други като мен, които са я пропуснали. Трима съдии са на топло за разнообразни престъпления – това обаче не ги е трогнало особено и редом с неформалната власт, която са си извоювали в рамките на затвора, са се заели с доходоносен изнудвачески бизнес. Публикуват обяви в списания за мъже, с които привличат вниманието на прикрити хомосексуалисти, които после изнудват със заплахи да ги разкрият пред семействата и колегите им. Работата се задвижва от един корумпиран адвокат, а заверата започва малко по малко да дава солидни плодове – и всеки от тримата има свои планове за времето, когато отново ще е на свобода. Само дето алчността им става все по-голяма.

Обсидиан ИК / Obsidian Publishers
Profile Image for Allison.
80 reviews10 followers
May 31, 2011
I have read several John Grisham novels and this particular one did not have the usual punch that are typical in his stories. In other books of his there is suspense and intrigue, but I would not say The Brethren has these characteristics.

The dual plots are slow in developing and once the two converge it is fairly predictable from there. With a lack of twists and turns it was really difficult to stay engaged in the book. With no true climax or twists to drive the story it felt like it lacked heart. The ending seemed to attempt to be climactic, but it fell flat. Overall this story just felt clumsy.

If you are looking for a truly great Grisham novel I recommend The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Firm, or even The Testament.
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