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108 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They are never the same...
With the majority of mass market autors, you are guaranteed the same kind of read over and over. Not grisham. The Brethren focuses on a little clan of judges in a low security prison setting up a get rich quick scheme that will guarantee they are set up for good after jail. They lure the men in through placing ads in gay magazine and then track down the men who reply...
Published on January 31, 2000 by R. Watkins

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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointing
I absolutely love John Grisham. However, after this book, I think he needs to take a little time off and think about his writing. His first 3 books were incredible. Then, they got a little less exciting. I thought he was going to have a resurgence with The Testament, a book not many liked, but I thought really extended him as a writer. Then, this one. I thought this...
Published on February 18, 2000 by Courtney_Carpenter@vfc.com


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108 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They are never the same..., January 31, 2000
This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
With the majority of mass market autors, you are guaranteed the same kind of read over and over. Not grisham. The Brethren focuses on a little clan of judges in a low security prison setting up a get rich quick scheme that will guarantee they are set up for good after jail. They lure the men in through placing ads in gay magazine and then track down the men who reply. This leads to the perfect extortion scheme because these men don't want to be found. They make a mistake with one of the men and it just gets better. if you like Grisham, you'll love the Brethren. Not his best, but great anyway, you won't be disappointed.
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109 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another solid Grisham book, February 6, 2000
This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
Firstly, this book is written by John Grisham, which means that you get the usual well-written book, so that once you start it, you don't put it down till you finish. (At least, that's what happened to me. I read it in a weekend.) What makes this one different is that there aren't really any good guys. It's the story of how some crooked judges are able to run a scam from inside a jail, paralleled with how a completely evil general tries to buy an election and start a war. The scam itself is really the hero of the story. I often caught myself thinking "Isn't that clever?". Also, Grisham shows his usual cynicism of lawyers with a funny character called Trevor. (Here's betting Steve Buscemi will play him in the movie!) Other reviewers have commented that the plot could have done with some more twists. But I didn't mind the way the plot developed. I found it more believable than The Firm, (whose main character seemed a bit too superhuman), but not quite as intriguing as The Runaway Jury (which is my favourite). All in all, it's a good solid Grisham book that will be well worth the price when it comes out in paperback.
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointing, February 18, 2000
This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
I absolutely love John Grisham. However, after this book, I think he needs to take a little time off and think about his writing. His first 3 books were incredible. Then, they got a little less exciting. I thought he was going to have a resurgence with The Testament, a book not many liked, but I thought really extended him as a writer. Then, this one. I thought this book was very uneventful. I kept expecting the usual Grisham suspense, drama, murder, etc. It never came. There was no suspense at all. It could have been a biography of the 3 judges. That's was it read like. Very disappointing!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just kinda drifts off..., February 16, 2000
By 
Richard B. White (On an Island in Puget Sound) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
Great premise and could have been an extraordinary story, but it appears that Grisham forgot to flesh it out past a Hollywood treatment. Reading the last few pages, I was on edge waiting for the EXPLOSIVE finale. Didn't happen. I think that he was already into his next big, blockbuster, chart-busting, top o'the list bestseller and just shoved this one to the side...
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frank Muller Wins This Case!, June 20, 2000
You might call this a legal brief - a bit less involved than most Grisham fare, but a fun way to pass the time nonetheless. Or *do* the time... The brethren consists of three imprisoned ex-judges in a white-collar institution who concoct an intricate blackmail scheme that preys on wealthy, closeted gay men. Posing as "Ricky," a young, lonely homosexual in rehab, the judges turn out not to be such great judges of character when they end up penpalling with the wrong man.
Then there's breezy Congressman Aaron Lake, a political puppet shucking and jiving to the tune of CIA Director, Teddy Maynard. Maynard is grooming Lake for the presidency - once housed at 1600 Pennsylvania, Lake will sit back and let Maynard's CIA run the country. Lake seems perfect: he is relatively young, handsome, well-spoken, is malleable and squeaky clean. Or is he?
You see where this is going... so did I, but it was a lot of fun listening to the seemingly unconnected plotlines, trying to guess when the two worlds would collide. This book is deliciously fraught with mud-slinging presidential campaign ads, international intrigue, dirty lawyers on the take, suicide and murder, false love letters, and money... lots and lots of money. Unlike some of Grisham's heavier, more message-laden books (A Time To Kill, or The Rainmaker) The Brethren is written just to entertain.
The reader, Frank Muller, does an excellent job. He expertly handles playing several characters without overdoing it; you can tell the difference between the speakers without being distracted by a showboating acting performance. Muller is the winner of several awards for his audio book performances, and it's easy to tell why with this reading.
This is not Grisham's best work (I loved The Runaway Jury, and The Firm), nor his weakest (I struggled through The Testament, and The Street Lawyer). It's a steady, sturdy pot-boiling thriller right up till the end. With all the crosses and double-crosses, surprises and gotchas, I expected a big, blockbuster shoot-em up climax. I was disappointed. The Brethren ends not with a bang, but a whimper. It's downright criminal.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply, Mr. Grisham's worst., February 16, 2000
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
I have enjoyed a few of Grisham's novels to pass time on long flights or the beach. Most have been enjoyable for the genre; that is, don't take it too seriously. Obviously Grisham is an author looking to sell books, rather than write a strong story. I think he does have it in him, I would certainly welcome the attempt.

The Brethren is by far his worst. I am embarrased to have read it and finished it. The only benefit I can see in my "accomplishment" is that I can save others from such a folly. Read anything, just not this.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Manchurian Candidate Meets the Bretheren Grim, February 15, 2000
By 
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This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
Even granting that John Grisham is a genre unto himself, his latest tale of crooked judges, attorneys and politicians and their hapless victims is not up to his usual standard. While "The Bretheren" is distinguished by the same shallow insights, stereotyped characters, cliched descriptions ("tell, don't show" apparently is Grisham's guiding stylistic principle), and plot summaries that characterize most if not all of Grisham's work, in this case, the characters are even more banal and thinly-sketched than usual, while the plot is a hackneyed blackmail scenario married to a Grisham-version of "the Manchurian Candidate." Nor does Grisham provide any "good guys" to provide a narrative or psychological counterpoint to the three incarcerated judges whose blackmail scheme intersects with the CIA's own plan to employ illegal campaign financing and orchestrated overseas terrorism to elect a presidential candidate that will serve its own political ends: the only "heros" in this story are the hurriedly described, quickly-disposed of gay victims of the three blackmailers and an equally insubstantial, wrongly-imprisoned boat-builder. While the world may indeed be as grim as all that, Grisham's novels, lacking psychological depth or narrative complexity, must rely on the struggle between good and evil to sustain the reader's interest. In this case we have a mere catalogue of bad guys who behave badly, and a poorly-drawn,uninspired one at that.
Indeed, one gets the impression that Grisham had no fun writing this novel and that, having contracted to produce a book a year, he is merely, and grimly "churning 'em out". This is a shame, because some of his work -- "The Runaway Jury," and "The Rainmaker," e.g. -- is actually not bad. Maybe the answer is to take his profits, buy out his contract and, following his characters' fantasies, remove himself to a Caribbean Island, where he can write what he wants, at his leisure.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The most unappealing Grisham book ever, April 1, 2001
This review is from: The Brethren (Mass Market Paperback)
When I was a young lad in high school English Lit, I seem to recall being taught that one of the elements of any novel was a protagonist-antagonist conflict. You know, Square-Jawed Good Guy vs. Despicable Bad Guy - that sort of thing. Grisham's THE BRETHREN is the first novel I can remember reading in a very long time, if ever, that has no protagonist. Maybe he's now trying to write about real life where there're more gray areas.
Joe Roy Spicer, Hatlee Beech and FinnYarber are, respectively, a former Mississippi Justice of the Peace, a former Texas federal judge, and a former California Supreme Court Chief Justice. All three are in a minimum security Federal pen in Florida for various peccadilloes. And all three are using the US mail system to blackmail middle-aged homosexual men they've enticed out of the closet with a phony advert in a gay magazine. Helping them is their sleazy lawyer, Trevor Carson, who, for a cut of the take, acts as their link to the Postal Service.
On a seemingly unrelated track, Teddy Maynard is the unscrupulous, crippled Director of the CIA who has decided that the US needs a stronger military. To achieve this, he proposes to a relatively unknown Arizona Congressman, Aaron Lake, that he, Lake, enter the recently begun presidential primaries on a Double-the-Defense Budget platform. Aaron, a shameless political opportunist, is malleable and accepts, the task made easier by the tens of millions of dollars that Teddy manipulates into his campaign coffers. One of the main reasons that Maynard has selected Lake is the latter's apparent freedom from human foibles. Aaron apparently has no skeletons in his closet.
The reader knows all this thirty pages into the book, and unless he/she hasn't been paying attention, can predict where the plot is going.
It's not that THE BRETHREN is uninteresting or slow paced. It's just that all involved - Spicer, Beech, Yarber, Carson, Maynard, and Lake - are all so ... unsavory. I didn't wish any of them well even to the slightest degree. Any fascination the plot engenders is simply from observing the two camps collide.
So, despite what I learned in English Lit, not every novel has a protagonist. THE BRETHREN suffers markedly for this lack. Get back to the basics, John! This book was unpleasant.
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54 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Read! Oh boy oh boy!, February 1, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
I just finished reading this book and what an amazing thriller!
Very good story line and unlike his other anti-climactic endings this one is a good one.
I highly recommend this book!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good plot and story line ... but ..., February 4, 2000
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This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
I enjoyed reading this book right up to the end. And that was the problem, the end. I felt like this book had been written with a page count in mind, because the fully developed plots and the story line are simply closed off without a real sense of closure.
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The Brethren
The Brethren by John Grisham (Mass Market Paperback - December 26, 2000)
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