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The Brethren is in many respects his most daring and accomplished book yet. The novel grows from two separate subplots. In the first, three imprisoned ex-judges (the "brethren" of the title), frustrated by their loss of power and influence, concoct an elaborate blackmail scheme preying on wealthy closeted gay men. The second story traces the rise of presidential candidate Aaron Lake, a man essentially created by CIA directory Teddy Maynard to fulfil Maynard's plans for restoring the power of his beleaguered agency.