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The Pelican Brief Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1993

4.1 out of 5 stars 455 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

John Grisham's head was full of movies when he wrote The Pelican Brief, which is such a brisk page-turner you could use it to dry your hair. He had Julia Roberts in mind for the heroine, Darby Shaw, a brilliant Tulane law student who comes up with an ingenious theory to explain the baffling assassinations of two Supreme Court justices in one day. They were shot and strangled by ace international terrorist Khamel, who loves the film Three Days of the Condor, but government gumshoes don't get what connects the deaths. Silly government guys! They died so the conservative president, who just wants to be left alone to play golf, will appoint new, conservative justices who will help out a case involving an industrialist who is the enemy of pelicans and other living things. It's all spelled out for them in Darby's brief. She likes to do legal feats to impress her boyfriend, her boyish law prof Thomas (who, like Grisham, prefers to shave at most once a week, and is cool, smart, and antiauthoritarian). The prof likes to paint her toes red, in homage to Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham. (Sarandon also starred in the film version of Grisham's The Client.)

But when Thomas gets splattered by a car bomb meant for Darby, she escapes the hospital and hooks up with a Washington Post reporter, Gray Grantham, who sleuths like the guys in All the President's Men.

Grisham wishes he hadn't written The Pelican Brief quite so quickly (his first novel, A Time to Kill, went through dozens of drafts), but Pelican's very breathlessness contributes to its dreamy, cinematic chase-o-rama atmosphere.

From Publishers Weekly

In this tale of the aftermath of the assassinations of two Supreme Court justices, Grisham delivers a suspenseful plot at a breakneck pace, although his characters are stereotypes. The hardcover was on the PW bestseller list 48 weeks and the mass market was No. 1 last week.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Island; Reprint edition (February 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099382911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099382911
  • ASIN: 0440214041
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (455 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,991,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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A Kid's Review on November 9, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Pelican Brief" by John Grisham is an exciting novel with an amazing plot. It begins by introducing the character Khamel, a crazed killer who is paid to murder two Supreme Court Justices, named Rosenberg and Jensen, both who have received many death threats but refuse to let the FBI protect them.
In New Orleans at Tulane University, Darby Shaw, an attractive second year law student, was trying to sove the mystery behing the killings. Darby had a thirteen page brief on who she thought killed the justices. The brief was passed on to many people and it finally came to the President, who after reading the report became very scared. The FBI wanted to pursue the lead, but after a phone call from the President that told them to back off it, they decided to look at other suspects.
In the meantime, reporter Gray Grantham received a call in the middle of the night from "Garcia" who said that he might know something about the case.
Darby was on a date with her lover/professor when he got a little too drunk to drive. Darby insisted that she drive or walk, and to her surprise, he told her to walk. When the professor got into his car and started the engine, the car exploded, killing him on the spot. Darby called a friend of the professor, Gavin, and told him what happened because he was the first to see the brief which was later named "The Pelican Brief".
Through all of this chaos, Darby managed to stay alive and found time to meet Gray Grantham in Washington D.C. He learned her entire story and in order to confirm it all, they had to find "Garcia". They knew that he was a lwyer at a small firm in Washington D.C., so they asked the many interns there if they recognized a picture of him. One out of seven did, so they go to meet him.
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A Kid's Review on November 18, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The pelican brief is a slow but exiting book which is the base of the book for the movie: The Pelican Brief. Most of my friends watch the hit series Law & Order and so do I. So when I asked my Librarian if there were any books like it, he told me books by John Grisham. I got hooked into the book really fast. Some people dont realize what happens in the complicated world of politics, internal affairs, and what hey do to get their job down. I suggest this book who is interested in the Law or what they do.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Someone assassinates two Supreme Court justices (the assassin is a burned out terrorist named Khamel, but the powers that be are baffled. They have no clues.

Darby Shaw spends a few days in the law library and figures out who wanted the hit, in order to stack the Supreme Court. This puts her in jeopardy, and people keep getting murdered around her.

Scary? Well, it might have been, but somehow, we know (I knew) that Darby was going to make it in the end and the "bad guys" were going to have their comeuppance. That was never in doubt.

So, not so scary.

What was interesting was Grisham's description of the law firms, and the lawyers, in Washington, D.C. This was eye-opening, the numbers, the morals, and the career ladder that such people follow.

What was interesting, but stupid, was the President. It's hard to imagine a President this stupid, but I wonder was the model Mr. Ron? And this golfer President turns the real business of running the nation over to a young smoothy by the name of Fletcher Coal, who is one of the "bad guys," in a way, but he has some good traits, too: He can work incessantly and seems to be pretty intelligent. He just lacks, what, heart?

I've read better books by Grisham. There is a story here, but not a page-turning story. Just kind of, "Okay, who's going to fail to assassinate Darby this time?"

I didn't see the movie, but the book seemed to be tailor-made for Hollywood, also, another down-side (compare Grisham's Bleachers, a more recent effort, which does not seem to be targeted so prominently toward a movie script).

Diximus.
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Format: Hardcover
John Grisham's 1991 novel THE FIRM drew unprecedented praise from reviewers, booksellers and readers across America, and it quickly became the top bestseller of the year. Now Grisham is back with The Pelican Brief, an irresistible story that begins with the simultaneous assassinations of two Supreme Court Justices...
Late one October night Justice Abe Rosenberg, at ninety - one the Supreme Court's liberal legend, is shot in the head while sleeping in his Georgetown home. Two hours later Glenn Jensen, the Court's youngest and most conservative justice, is strangled, possibly by the same assassin. The country is stunned and baffled; the FBI has no clues.
But Darby Shaw, a brilliant law student at Tulane, thinks she has the answer. Days of digging in the law libray's computers have led her to an obscure connection between the two justices. She fleshes out her beliefs in a meticulous though wildly speculative brief that builds a strong case against a most unlikely suspect.
Her suspect has powerful friends. one evening, outside a New Orleans restaurant, she narrowly escapes an assassin's car bomb. Someone has read her brief. Someone who wants her dead. Alone and frightened, Darby disappears into the anonymous shadows of the French Quarter. After reading an alarming story about the assassinations in the Washington Post, she contacts investigative reporter Gray Grantham and convinces him that Washington's position the killings amounts to the biggest cover - up since Watergate. Together they go underground, on the run, trying to stay alive long enough to expose the real truth in The Pelican Brief.
Featuring the unique mix of legal intrigue and page - turning suspense that drove The Firm to the top of the bestseller lists, The Pelican Brief is sure to be one of the most popular and satisfying novels of the year.
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