If you are thinking about going to law school, this wouldn't be a bad novel to read to get a sense of what the profession is all about before you commit yourself to three expensive (and potentially boring) years of education. I don't recall a book that displays so many of the corrupt sides of legal practice and education in a single fictional tale. If that weren't enough, the book also delves deeply into the international assassination genre and creates a modern-day fictional version of investigating a government cover-up at the highest levels, a la Watergate.
But a pure heart among all the jaded ones can make a difference . . . that's the morale of this story as beautiful, dedicated, and brilliant law student Darby Shaw speculates on what motive might tie the assassination of two Supreme Court justices back to a pending legal case. Improbably (the weakest part of the story), she sniffs out the potential that no one else does -- that this is an attempt to fix an appeal.
The Pelican Brief as a title is a misnomer. Darby writes her thoughts (a crude essay, not a brief) about what might be going on and shares them with her professor lover who passes them along to a counsel for the FBI. Pretty soon someone is taking her ideas seriously, and the pages will fly through your fingers as fast as you can read until you get to the end.
John Grisham doesn't quite have his genres down in this book, and apparently the success of The Firm meant that his editors were more interested in getting The Pelican Brief published than making it better. You could fix this novel into a five-star effort with about two hours of editing to reduce the improbabilities and speed up the slow parts.
But if you don't mind having unlikely events pull a riveting story together, you'll have a lot of fun with The Pelican Brief. I listened to the reading by Alexander Adams and felt that the story worked better listened to than it would be if read silently.
I admire John Grisham for the imagination to conceive of such a wild story. He kept surprising me with his plot developments, and the trip was almost all fun.
on May 26, 2004
John Grisham fans will not need to worry about being disappointed with this fast-paced thriller. The Pelican Brief, like many other novels that he has written is based on law. It has a thrilling plot and is suspenseful from the moment you lay your eyes on the first page. It will keep you reading into the small hours of the morning.
Most of Grisham's characters are related to law or to the government. Thomas Callahan is a professor at law, while Darby Shaw is a student of law. The rest of the characters are government officials and such.
The story begins with the murders of two supreme court justices. Supreme Court Justice Abe Rosenberg and Justice Glenn Jensen are both murdered on the same night by the same guy. Both murders where perfectly executed crimes. The murderer left no evidence and nothing for the government to pick up on.
After hearing about the murders, Darby Shaw gets quite interested decides to do some investigating of her own. After a few days of skipping classes and thorough research Darby put together a theory on what she found. She discarded it later on facts she thought proved it false. Thomas Callahan, a professor at Tulane, is having an affair with Darby. He takes her theory to an old friend in D.C. thinking it was ingenious. His friend, Gavin, thought it was amazing and sent it to the White house. It got to the president and eventually made its way outside of the White house.
When Thomas returned to Tulane, him and Darby went out to eat at a restaurant. Thomas got so drunk that Darby refused to ride with him. Thomas , being stubborn as he is, wouldn't let Darby drive and got in the car and when he started the engine a bomb went off. Darby hit her head on a bumper and got knocked out. While she was regaining consciousness a man dressed in a police uniform took her to a car asked her what her name was and then left her in the car. The police arrived soon after and found her lying there. The police deny that the man was part of the law enforcement.
The police took Darby to a nearby hospital and told her to wait there for help. She leaves when they are out of sight and gets a room at a hotel. She calls the only person she can think of at the moment, Gavin. She then finds out that she is a suspect at the murder of Thomas and the only person she can trust is his best friend.
This novel will take you through many twists and turns. It is gripping and will have you reading through to the very last word. Darby's theory has made someone very upset and they will go at all costs to have her executed. All Darby did was write down her best guess at the murders and now she is running for her life.
on February 17, 2004
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham is by far THE BEST JOHN GRISHAM novel I have read so far. The Pelican Brief starts out with the deaths of two Supreme Court judges, who get assassinated by a mysterious assassin named Khamel. Now law student Darby Shaw takes a shot in the dark and writes a brief on who killed the two Supreme Court judges. Now once she finishes it, she then gives it to her lover and professor to read it, then the FBI get their hands on it, and also the President who is intrigued by this little brief.
Now as the brief gets around, Darby's professor is killed by a car bomb which was intended for him and her! But she escapes thanks to his drunken state. Now she is on the run, and the killers want her dead at any cost. Then she runs into a Washington Post writer, and they get into contact. She tells him about the brief and joins the hunt for a mysterious man named "Garcia" who works for this huge firm in D.C.
Now escaping death many times, Darby then finds out who "Garcia" really is, they then discover the whole thing, and they report it in print, and now everyone is going down; including some of the President's men. Why did the huge firm want the Supreme Court judges dead? Simple. It was a case that involved a case involving the marshlands, and oil, the firm wanted to win the case, but they knew that they were going to lose if it went to the Supreme Court, so they hired a trained assassin to kill the two judges so if they can be replaced with two new judges. Interesting? I thought so.
on February 16, 2004
Mysterious, eccentric and gripping are the words that could be used to describe the complicated plot that is hidden within this 436 pg long novel. It starts off with an intriguing beginning in which an elder Supreme Court Judge gets murdered in his own apartment building. The incognito assassin moves swiftly into the building and kills the Supreme Judge and leaves undetected by any of the FBI¡¦s forces that¡¦s planted there as protection. Not long after, the assassin strikes again and kills a second Supreme Court Judge in a Gay porn movie theater by strangling him to death, once again leaving no traces. The White House has no specific suspect and the investigation comes to a halt until a brief writer by a student comes along.
In the mean time, Darby Shaw is just living her life as a normal college student. Studying law, she is naturally attracted to the politics that are going on in the government, so it wasn¡¦t long before she heard about the murdering of the two Supreme Court judges. Driven by pure curiosity she took a long duration of time to write out a brief that pin point¡¦s possible suspect that would have benefited the most with these two judges dead. She shows her brief to her professor/ lover, Thomas Callahan who passes it to many other politicians that are investigating the very case. She has no clue of what devastation this action was about to inflict to her life.
Gray Grantham a reporter that worked for Washington post, also tires to single handedly figure out who is behind the murders of the Supreme Court Judges. He one day gets a phone call from a man that claims to be, ¡§Garcia¡¨ saying he has some information about the case. Yet, he soon loses this lead and finds himself cornered into a dead end until one day Darby Shaw calls him and informs him about some details in the brief she wrote. Soon after they both meet up in Washington to have a little talk. Shortly both of them decide to work as a team to try and solve the mystery, and their first step was to find this mystery man called, ¡§Garcia.¡¨
¡§The Pelican Brief¡¨ is an interesting book that I would recommend highly to other readers that enjoy a good twist in plots and realistically built characters. The story is very much plausible and everything is well explained down to the very last detail. I plan on reading more books by John Grisham, and I believe that all his books will have his own unique type of humor that I enjoyed so very much.
on May 23, 2003
The thing that I admire about John Grisham is that he has a way of explaining legal procedure to the reader that does not condesend and actually makes you feel intellegent afterwards. He did a great job of doing it in "The Firm" and now Grisham fans will be pleased by this installment as the thrills take you not only to the south but also to the steps of the White House. At the risk of not rehashing the premise and plot, I found some of Grisham's most colorful characters are in this one, namely the President and his Chief of Staff. Also a minor character in "The Firm" plays a much larger role. Both Tom Clancy and Anne Rice do this trick and I love it. Also his use of dialogue is amazing and you wind up going through a surprizing amount of pages in a short amount of time.
The only drawback is the while the premise is unique it is somewhat flimsy. And while there are plenty of nail biting chases, and varoius twists and turns, I did not find myself becoming emotionally drawn to the characters. I know Grisham is capable of doing it, just read "A Time to Kill." However the payoff is at the end. It really packs a punch and it made me want to read the book again. I have reshelved this one to make sure I do just that some time next year. While far from a modern classic, the book does what it's supposed to: Entertains you and makes want to pick up another one of his books. Good reading.
on May 15, 2003
Annotation: The Supreme Court justices are assinated with no know infomation, a Tulane law student finds an unlikley suspect. She has to run and hide because they want her dead, because she exposed the Pelican Brief.
Author Bio: The Pelican Brisf was written by John Grisham. Before he became an author he worked 60-70 hours a week at a law practice. His first hit was the firm and it was huge. john also writes law books. some other books that he has written was A Time to Kill and the Chamber.
Evaluation: The book the Pelican Brief was one of the best books i have ever read. I thought the book made you think, and try to figure out the next twist in the book. i never got lost durring the book which i normaly do, so the author did a great job to catch my attention. My favorite part of the book was the part when Thomas is blown up in his car and Darby was with the killer taht said he was a cop. that forces her to go on the run knowing that someone is out to kill her. the book was put together great and i would give it a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5. That is my evaluation of the Pelican Brief.
on April 20, 2003
I think that an average customer rating of 3 1/2 stars is good for this book. It may not have been the best book I have ever read (thrid grade writing) or the worst I have ever read (try The Secret History or A Map of the World). I thought that the Pelican Brief was an enjoying, fast paced, and occasionally scary read. On a dark night in Washington D.C., a man disgusied as a jogger sneaks into an invalid's house and kills him, his nurse, and the cop guarding him. On the same night, within a porno house, another man is strangled to death. The next day America awakens to find that two key Supreme Court Justices have been assasinated. And in Harvard Law School, a beautiful young woman writes a legal brief...Darby Shaw was only guessing. She never meant what she wrote. Her guess at the murder was completely a joke. But all of a sudden she is witness to a car bomb and her boyfriend is dead- which was meant for her. This sends Darby into hiding from numerous assisins and she may only be saved by Gray Grantham, an aspiring newsreporter looking for his story. I did like The Pelican Brief, but I felt it was too easy to read. I also would have liked it more if Grisham had delved into Gray's character a little more. But it was much better than the pitiful The Firm, which restored my faith in John Grisham.
on April 18, 2003
As several other reviewers here have noted, the plot of this novel is based on numerous implausibilities. The biggest, to me, were
- that somebody could predict years in advance that a court case would reach the Supreme Court.
- that the bad guys would try to kill people connected to the brief when precisely that would only reinforce the credibility of an otherwise rather far-fetched theory.
- that the protagonist is so reluctant about sharing her brief with the world, when disseminating it would be the easiest way of ensuring that killing her had no further value for the bad guys (and indeed, they run as soon as the story is finally published).
To compound these issues, the novel ends with essentially the same escapist ending as _The Firm_, the Grisham novel I'd read prior to this one.
However, despite all these weaknesses, this was an entertaining book that made for a fun 2 days of reading. As a further redeeming merit, Grisham had a surprising flash of brilliance when he equipped this novel (written in the early 1990s) with a dimwitted, hands-off, U.S. president, run by his handlers, whose interests were mainly playing golf, packing the Supreme Court with rabid right wingers, and doing favors to his cronies.
on March 19, 2003
The Pelican Brief, by John Grisham, is a thriller guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. This book is about Darby Shaw, a Tulane law student, who uncovered a massive conspiracy involving a prestigious law firm and of all things, pelicans. Darby Shaw gets caught up in whirlwind of adventure because she wrote a brief that linked, Victor Mattiece, an important contributor to the President, to the murders of two Supreme Justices. The result was her being the subject of a manhunt and many left dead in her wake, including her lover and professor.
The story's action includes the rush to gather evidence for the biggest "newspaper story since Watergate." It leads to Gary Grantham meeting up with Darby Shaw and the two teaming up to bring down the White House. The subplots include a romance between the two protagonists. Another is Gray Grantham's own quest to gather evidence to get a big news story and to revive his career. The book is very exciting and makes you keep the book until you finish it.
The book is very suspenseful and leaves the reader wanting to learn more at the end of every chapter. The book starts out a little slowly with the exceptions of the assassinations, but it gradually picks up speed. The first part of the book describes the characters and sets up the rest of the book, but after that there is a good deal of action. This is also a romantic novel in which the main character deals with the loss of her lover to the romance of her with another. Another strength of the book is that there is a lot of detailed description of the characters. For example, when we are introduced to Victor Mattiece, we see him as "his skin was leathery and dark bronze. His bare feet were lined with ugly veins. His toenails were long and yellow." This provides a very vivid picture.
Although the book is suspenseful, the book's "puzzle pieces" do not fall together until the end. The book is very tricky and misleading. For example, at the beginning, the book makes you think that a certain person is a bad guy only to learn in the end that that he was working undercover for the CIA. Another weakness is that this book does not mention the main antagonist many times, and the ending leaves you hanging. The ending shows Darby Shaw and Gray Grantham, a reporter, getting together, but nothing about Victor Mattiece getting captured or anything.
The other main weakness is mostly the lack of development of the characters, especially the main character. What we know about Darby Shaw is mostly at a surface level. For example, we know that she feels sad for the death of her lover. However, we do not see it greatly or she does not make other people think that way. Another weakness is actually its strength. Although the book has a lot of details, the book focuses too much on them and does not really go deeply into the action. For example, when the car bomb killed her lover, we see a lot of Darby's emotion and shock, but we do not see description of how the car looked.
The book is a good read for people who like adventure with a little bit of law mixed in. I will give it 7 out of 10 stars, because it was very exciting with only a few minor weaknesses. The book has some very exciting scenes. I recommend this book for people who like thrillers, but do not mind a show start.
on February 21, 2003
In The Pelican Brief by John Grisham, suspense is used to keep the reader's attention. Darby Shaw is an innocent student of law who comes up with a theory as to who committed murders, and she calls this the Pelican Brief. Unbenownced to her, she has uncovered the true murderers. When they get a hold of her brief, her world changes drastically. Grisham uses a tactic where he leads the reader in one direction and then suddenly the story goes a different direction. We come to realize that this type of device used by Grisham often makes us keep reading because we want to find out what is going to happen to the character in the next scene.
At the beginning of the novel, Grisham lacks the use of suspension. This makes it hard for us to read when we have no real drastic change that quickly changes our point of view. As soon as Thomas Callahan dies from a car explosion we come to realize that Darby's life is at stake. When she is scared and is living in hotels where anyone can find her, we are left in suspense where we don't know what is going to happen to her. Later on in the novel, we follow Darby and Gray Grantham through the underground just waiting for them to be caught.
In the end the device of suspense is what keeps the reader interested throughout the novel. It keeps us waiting to find out if the good or the evil of the world will win the battle. Any part of a novel without suspense, which we discover in the beginning, is not keeping our attention. Once our opinions keep changing we keep wanting to read more and more about how the character ends up. Suspension helps make us more open to new opinions and quick changes in our own world; although, Grisham uses this to make us more attentive to his story.