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The Brethren by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The BrethrenThis is a really interesting story that basically has several stories going on at the same time. The Brethren are a group of three ex-judges who are currently serving time in a minimum federal security prison or camp which is meant for criminals who have committed nonviolent crimes basically against society. They have to be guarded and watched but it is a very low security atmosphere. One of the three had been convicted for tax evasion, one was a justice of the peace who was jailed for embezzling bingo profits, and one had killed two hikers in Yellowstone while he was driving drunk. They basically had jurisdiction over the other inmates in the prison camp as long as it was a crime dealing only with other prisoners.

But there status did allow them to have privileges such as mail in and out without anyone checking it. They were also allowed visits unhampered by their attorney who in fact became their errand boy as they used him in the scheme which they put together. He was happy with the overall arrangement because one of the three judges was a knowledgeable sports gambler and he was always giving the errand boy tips on games to bet with very good odds of winning.

At the same time Teddy Maynard, the CIA director at Langley, had picked Aaron Lake, a long time congressman, to be the next candidate for President of the United States. Maynard in his position had the ability to do many things as he basically controlled much of the internal happenings in Congress and its affiliated areas. Maynard wanted to see a strong person as the next President and one who was very much in favor of rebuilding the United States’ defense mechanisms. He felt that he could guide Lake into that direction while building Lake’s reputation and position in the run for the presidency. Maynard through his years in the capital had built many influential wealthy friends who also felt as he did about the country’s defense or lack there-of. With their help he felt he and Lake were on their way.

Another part of The Brethren deals with several ads which began appearing in some of the men’s magazines. These ads were not the usual in that they were not necessarily pushing body-building or pretty girls to meet but instead these new ads were supposedly put in by young men who were looking for friendly encounters with older men. Gay come-ons I suppose they would be looked on as.

How these diverse positions all end up coming together is what really makes The Brethren an interesting read. And it is all done with actually neither violence nor sex being bandied around. Just very good story telling with much emphasis on our legal system and even quite a bit of information on the political side of our country.

Overall Grisham has done another superb job of putting together an enjoyable read for all of his fans (and even those who aren’t as yet).

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