The Brethren by John GrishamI 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 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 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 440Genre Realistic Fiction I like John Grisham as a writer, but not this book.Three things 1 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.2 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 3 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. Trumble Is A Minimum Security Federal Prison, A Camp, Home To The Usual Assortment Of Relatively Harmless Criminals Drug Dealers, Bank Robbers, Swindlers, Embezzlers, Tax Evaders, Two Wall Street Crooks, One Doctor, At Least Five LawyersAnd Three Former Judges Who Call Themselves The Brethren One From Texas, One From California, And One From Mississippi They Meet Each Day In The Law Library, Their Turf At Trumble, Where They Write Briefs, Handle Cases For Other Inmates, Practice Law Without A License, And Sometimes Dispense Jailhouse Justice And They Spend Hours Writing Letters They Are Fine Tuning A Mail Scam, And It S Starting To Really Work The Money Is Pouring InThen Their Little Scam Goes Awry It Ensnares The Wrong Victim, A Powerful Man On The Outside, A Man With Dangerous Friends, And The Brethren S Days Of Quietly Marking Time Are Over 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..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 choir 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 It was an enjoyable read filled with plenty of political and legal intrigue as well as humorous writing Ending was so so. 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 guiltThe 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 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.mmmyesdefinitely the ropes Thrilling, suspenseful and informative Loved it. 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 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 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 of him I would recommend this book to lovers of social satire and legal thrillers. 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. 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 be that manipulative with such precision That didn t seem fictional at all.