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The Pelican Brief - John Grisham

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Author: John Grisham / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    9 Reviews
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      07.01.2010 14:51
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      Overall worth reading and not too long

      Most of the books that John Grisham writes are related to law or some sort of legal thriller and The Pelican Brief is no exception. This novel has more to do with the Supreme Court and law students.

      The story of the book surrounds Darby Shaw who is a second-year law student at Tulane University. She is an exceptionally brilliant student who excels in her work. She also enjoys a relationship with her Law professor Thomas Callahan. Thomas has a fixation and fondness for Supreme Court justice, Abe Rosenberg. Now, Rosenberg is one of the most hated men in the country so it's no real surprise to most when he is murdered. Any number of suspects could come to mind there.

      However the real surprise in the story comes when we learn that another Supreme Court Justice, Glenn Jensen has been killed on exactly the same night as Abe Rosenberg. The two judges are completely opposite both in their views and everything else which makes it strange that both were murdered.

      Soon every student researcher around is hunting for clues and motives. Darby Shaw is one of them and comes up with some unique theories that writes about and these become known as the 'The Pelican Brief'.

      She gives it to Callahan who in turns hands it on to a high-ranking friend of his at the FBI. Possibly a week later, Darby and Callahan are out for dinner and after refusing to ride home wih him in his car as he is too drunk, she watches in horror as Callahan is killed by a car bomb. It appears that someone wanted them both dead and out of the picture but why? Maybe the notes she wrote in her brief were too close to the mark...

      This was John Grisham's third book after A Time to Kill and The Firm and I did enjoy it, however the only problem I find with his books is that are all a bit too familiar at times. Each of the books features a lawyer or law student climbing the ladder. This lawyer then manages to outsmart everyone and bring down the villians. So I'm not sure how many of these you can read before it gets a bit too unrealistic or boring.

      However this one was good. The main character was female which is rarer than in alot of books like this. Also, I found his writing descriptive enough to be able to follow each of the main character's throughts and how they were getting to certain decisions in the book. By writing like this I felt more in tune with the characters and it wasn't such a mystery where you're left guessing what they are thinking. And above all in this book you not only learn about the law process but also about newswriting as one of her sources happens to be a newspaper reporter.

      Basically if you're into legal thrillers and stories about bringing the criminals to justice then this will be a very interesting book for you to read and good value. It is relatively simple to read and is no overly long so worth the time you will invest in it.

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        06.05.2008 22:37
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        The Pelican Brief - John Grisham's third novel

        The Pelican Brief is the third novel from the award winning legal thriller author John Grisham. It has been adapted into a blockbuster film, and is another enthralling read from the master of legal fiction.

        The Plot

        Two Supreme Court Justices have died. To the majority of the world, this seems innocent enough, but a lone law student, Darby Shaw, uncovers a conspiracy that reveals they were assassinated. With her only ally investigative reporter Gray Grantham, she is hunted by people who want her dead because of what she knows. Grantham wants her to give him the story, to tell the nation. She just wants to stay alive.

        My Opinion

        The Pelican Brief is a novel full of paranoia, with innocent student Darby Shaw panicked due to a theory striking home with a corrupt legal system. Grisham handles this very well, and gives the reader a sense of being involved on the same level as Darby: not knowing who's around the next corner, and who the corruption has reached and affected. The characterisation of Gray Grantham lends a calming nature to the book, and the balance is struck cleverly. This is a very good novel, but does not quite come up to scratch in comparison to Grisham's previous two novels.

        Conclusion

        Another great from Grisham's pen.

        I rate this book at 4 stars out of 5.

        The book is available from amazon.co.uk for £4.89.

        This review may also be posted on ciao.co.uk.

        Thanks for reading.

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          12.09.2004 03:13
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          John Grisham seems to be able to churn out novel after novel in the way that your gran bakes cakes. (I don't see the big attraction with baking myself...). In 'The Pelican Brief' Grisham has again provided his multimillion strong readership with an absolute gem. Grisham's novels are all law/crime thrillers, and as an ex-lawyer the author is more than qualified on his subject. If unfamiliar with American Law his books can be a little confusing at times, but once the Grisham bug has been bitten you'll soon start walking around thinking you're a top lawyer, and constantly looking over your shoulder for the FBI..... an unlikely prospect in the quiet lanes of merrie englande. 'The Pelican Brief' is no exception, and begins with the brutal murder of two Supreme Court Justices. The President, although displaying public shock, seizes on the opportunity to select new Justices to his preferred political persuasion - or more to the point his advisor Fletcher Coal does, who controls the President like a puppet with strings throughout. The narrative mainly follows the story in the eyes of Darby Shaw, an attractive, redheaded law student at Tulane, New Orleans. Almost by complete accident she stumbles across a case in a law library, which leads her to write a brief (subsequently to be known as the 'pelican brief') pointing the finger at who sponsored the killings. The situation is made all the more sensitive by the fact that her chosen suspect has close links with the presidency, and happens to be one of the largest donators of cash to the President. Without wishing to give too much away (I'm hoping some of you who read this may actually go and read this book!), the President tries to point the official investigations away from this suspect, so that he
          can avoid losing face. When the brief turns out to have hit the truth square on the nose, Darby's lover is killed in a car bomb meant for her (Sordidly, her lover Thomas Callahan also happens to be her contract law professor...). This not only confirms the pelican brief, but leads to an exciting chain of events involving Darby's subsequent evasion of the hitmen sent after her. The chase takes us around the US and involves all the usual cash-only transactions, single night stays in hotels, clothes purchased for a single days use and constant hair style and colour changes. The story moves wildly towards its conclusion by following the media. Gray Grantham of the Washington Post gradually catches up with the facts through various sources, and eventually meets up with Darby herself and together they gather the hard evidence they require for the story to be published, and the correct people to be punished. Grantham appears to do this out of his sense of duty to journalism, but probably more out of his desire for a Pulitzer, and after obtaining the photos from her college yearbook, a burning desire for his subject - Darby Shaw. Darby is driven by a longing for her lost lover, and a need to stay alive long enough so that the truth can be exposed. The book ends with a rather clicheed meeting on a Carribean island which Darby has managed to escape to. After waiting for the furore to die down back in the US, Grantham eventually manages to get his girl. 'The Pelican Brief' contains flashes of top-drawer Grisham, but overall as a novel this is not one of Grisham's very best.

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            30.10.2003 20:10
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            As I’ve mentioned in previous ops reading never used to be something I was really into. In fact it wasn’t until about a year after I left school that I really started to read regularly and it was a book by John Grisham that really got me started. This wasn’t the one but after reading one of his books I felt that I had to make an effort to try and read pretty much everything he had written. And so I came to the Pelican Brief, the 3rd Novel he wrote. The main aspect of Grisham’s work is that he is writing about a field he has a great deal of experience and knowledge in. All his books in one way or another are based on either down on their luck poor lawyers or law students. However don’t let this put you off, Grisham is an expert in this field and somehow manages to make these types of book seem intriguing to even me. The plot of this one is no different to his normal type of book. Darby Shaw, a second year law student, is dating her law professor Thomas Callahan. Callahan is a supporter of a Supreme Court judge, Abe Rosenberg who is mysteriously murdered on the very same night as a fellow Supreme Court judge, Glenn Jensen. Nothing seems to link the two but everyone seems to think there’s a connection. Prompting every law student in the country to start investigating and coming up with theories as to what happened. Of course with her boyfriend being quite fond of Rosenberg Darby starts to look into it herself. She even goes so far as to write a paper on it, which she shows to Callahan, who is so convinced by it he hands it to a friend of his within the FBI. Then just a week later after a particularly heavy night out Darby refuses to get in the car with a drunk Callahan, deciding to walk home instead. But just minutes later after starting his car Callahan and his car are blown up. Little did Darby realise how accurate her report actually was. Now she has to fight for survival, aided by journalist Ga
            ry Grantham who wants exclusive rights to her story. It’s a race against time for Darby as the people trying to keep this a secret close in on her she needs to do something quick. In true Grisham style, this book had me hooked. I’d start reading just for a chapter and still be sat there 6 chapters on reading away at 1 in the morning. He draws you into his books and makes a subject, which ordinarily I would find rather dull, to be very interesting. Rather than writing it using difficult law phrases and sayings, he writes with an ability to explain what he means without actually writing it word by word. The main characters are strong, especially Darby who really shines through. The background information he provides on each character helps to explain the motives of certain actions and really helps you get into the book. And Gary Grantham who appears about half way in is the perfect catalyst to really get the book moving along, as one of the complaints I have about some of Grisham’s other books is that the story drags a little. The main downside with this one I feel is that throughout the book every one else seems to know exactly what’s in the Brief except for you the reader. This can frustrate you at times, but all in all it’s an easy book to get into that flows along quite nicely. Other than that it’s a thoroughly good read that will keep you entertained The book weights in at about 436 pages but once you actually start reading, chapters just seem to fly by and the books over before you know it. Also as is the trend with a lot of Grisham’s work this of course has been turned into a film starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. Overall I’d say if you like a good addictive book that’s hard to put down with a lot of tension and a few surprising twists and turns then have a read of this, you wont be disappointed. If you wish to purchase a copy then check out amazon.co.uk where
            its going for £5.59 One thing I really must change is that Grisham is the only author of this genre that I’ve ever really read and although I do enjoy his books, it would be nice to find out about a few of the competition. So if anyone knows of any good authors I should check out I’d be happy to hear your recommendations

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              07.11.2001 03:49
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              The making of the 'Pelican Theif'. The Pelican Brief, is about a brief that was created by a law Student 'Darby Shaw' Played by Julia Roberts in the Film. This Pelican Brief, as it was called, told the true story about two supreme court justices being killed, and only Darby Shaw knows how, she wrote it all down in the brief and Darbys boyfriend Thomas callahan, her lectureer, read the brief and gave it a close friend of the government to take a look at, this then caused some people from the Government to find all the people who knew about the Brief, and the to kill them. Her boyfriend is was targeted, and she will be next, she then takes comfort and tells a reporter called Gray Grantham to help find out who the killers are and let the world know who they are. This book is so good I could not put it down. The suspense is on every page, Grisham is very good at that in this book. At a good price, this must be the first book you have to read by Grisham. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, he wanted at an early age to become a baseball player. John Grisham has written some of these BEST SELLING NOVLES of all time: The Brethren 2000, The Chamber 1994, The Client 1993, The Firm 1991, A painted house 2001, The Partner 1997, The pelican brief 1992, The rainmaker 1995, The runaway jury 1996, Skipping christmas 2001, The street lawyer 1998, The testament 1999, A Time to kill 1989. A Time to Kill was his first book, I think this will be my next review. Overall John Grisham can captivate his audience and inspire our imaginations to make us feel we were actually apart of this books and stories that he continues to feed us. A brilliant author of all time. Like his first book 'A Time to Kill' he is the best and has 'A Time to Thrill'... Overall again the Pelican Brief is a good read, a page turner. Your imagination will be turned upsidedown and will show you what a real
              book can be!!!!...

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                28.12.2000 22:43
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                I finished reading this book last night. It was about 1:30am, and all yesterday I'd only managed to put this book down to find food or to visit the bathroom. I was given The Pelican Brief for Christmas as part of a set, and for some reason (probably something to do with the number of times I've intended to see the film but never actually got round to it), I picked this one to read first. I was not disappointed. A gripping opening immediately grabbed my attention. The common writer's trick of starting out with a quick build up to the event which sparks off the plot as a whole. In this case, it's an introduction to the two supreme court judges whose murders cause (as is to be expected) total uproar. In the middle of the chaos, a law student, Darby Shaw, writes an innocent seeming brief, later named the 'pelican brief'. This results in the death of her boyfriend, and she ends up being chased around the US by the same killers who were hired to do away with the two supreme court judges. She meets a load of other people along her way, most importantly a reporter, and together they manage to drag out the truth. A cleverly twisted plot with clearly defined and created characters shows that he's done it again. However, I did notice a remarkable similarity between this plot, and that of the two films taken from his books that I've seen. (The Firm and The Client) Although there are considerable similarities between them, each one is still worth a read. But the first one you read will definately seem the best, regardless of which one it is!

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                  28.07.2000 04:26
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                  God knows where the inspiration for this book came from but it's a great read all the same. The story is interesting and inventive and for some reason you just keep on turning the pages to find out what happens next. In short here is the story. Two Supreme Justices have been killed, and a law student, Darby Shaw, ignores her studies for a few days and tries to solve the crime herself. She writes her account of who did it and why (this is her brief) but then discards it and goes back to being a student. Her Brief is given to the FBI and circulates around the White House. Her boyfriend is killed, she is being followed, others she comes into contact with are killed. Can she escape these people and stay alive? Will the crime be solved? It's a great story but I don't like Grisham's writing style. He is unable to soundly describe anything and his efforts at creating suspense are quite pitiful. If the story weren't so brilliant this book wouldn't have anything. Grisham does have the ability to hook a reader and to keep your interest. His isn't the best book I've ever read but worth it all the same. I enjoyed it and I can't see how anyone could fail to do so. Having read this I now want to go on and read Grisham's other books, a sign of a good author.

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                  27.07.2000 05:09
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                  Having watched many movies based on John Grisham's book, I must admit that this book which appeared really interesting did not meet up to my expectation. The book does not really seem to 'take-off' until the last quarter. The plot appears interesting but the way it was written.. well, it gets somewhat confusing sometimes, as the characters were not well developed. Even the main character, Darby Shaw does not seem to be the main character at times. All in all, the only part i started to enjoy, as I said earlier, was the last quarter of the book. Anyway, The Pelican Brief is basically about a brilliant, beautiful law student who unknowingly identifies the real killer of 2 Supreme Court Justices in her brief. It gets passed on from one to another, right up to the President of the USA, and she gets hunted by the people behind the killings so that none of their schemes etc can be exposed i.e. to avoid major scandals etc. She teams up with a reporter Gray Grantham in her search for the truth and that's what most of the book is about, that is, to expose the thruth and to stay alive.

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                  23.06.2000 19:14

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                  I've read most of Grisham's novels, and have to say 'The Pelican Brief' is not one of his best. Actually, he's never been able to surpass his first novel 'A Time to Kill', for characters and plot. (see my review). The main character, Darby Shaw, is a law student who stumbles upon the conspirators of the assassinations of two Supreme Court Justices. Once this information is leaked she becomes their next target. Of course, she's smart enough not to get killed, but rather is able to escape the bad guys, and find a newspaper reporter who will run the story and blow the conspirators out of the water. Trouble is the reader doesn't know why Darby's running until two thirds into the book when Grisham finally reveals the contents of the brief. It's evident that this work of fiction was really meant to be a movie script and not a novel. A quick beach read for any Grisham enthusiast.

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