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The Pelican Brief
(John Grisham)

The Pelican Brief is the third John Grisham novel that I have read after The Client and The Firm. Probably this might be my last John Grisham novel until he comes up with something which is radically different theme. His writing style is now pretty familiar to me and pretty predictable and hence the charm is wearing thin.

The Plot
Two Supreme Court Judges are murdered one after the other. All evidences point to some radical group which had threatened to kill these judges. But Darby Shaw a young law student (Darby Shaw) having an affair with her professor thinks not. She does some research and come up with a brief known as the Pelican Brief which seems to point fingers to some one else with contacts as high as the President.

The brief reaches the White House after passing through the FBI hands and ends up with the CIA. Suddenly, somebody gets real desperate and there are more killings around. The professor is killed and anybody else who seems to come to Darby's aid are beginning to die. Suddenly, she is on the run does not know what to do. But for just a law student she is very smart and manages to get in touch with a high flying reporter who is on the lookout for a killer material for his article.

Thus, begins the flight of the two in order to get the Pelican Brief published and get the appropriate killers to justice. But what are two ordinary citizens for people who could bump off two Supreme Court judges. Read the novel to see what happens to the brief and what happens to Darby and the hotshot reporter.

About the book
Now that I have gone through three John Grisham novels, the similarity in his plots are overwhelming. The things common in all his three novels are:

1) There has to be a lawyer and a law firm involved. Be it the maverick lawyer protecting the kid in The Client or be it Mitch in The Firm and here it is Darby Shaw who is not yet a qualified lawyer, but a law student.

2) There is one normal citizen out there who has the wits to outwit the FBI and CIA combined. It was the kid in Client, Mitch in The Firm and here it is Darby Shaw. The FBI and CIA seem to have a very bad report with John Grisham.

3) In all these novels, he tends to unveil the suspect way before the end, at least 5-6 chapters before the end, thus killing the suspense. The novel then meanders in to details of how he got caught or how he waited for others to trap him slowly and steadily.

4) Again, in The Pelican Brief there are a couple of things which have been lifted from the other two novels. The suicide of a lawyer by putting in the car hose is a straight lift from the opening sequence of the Client. Whereas Cayman Islands being the haven for spooky law firms was a concept lifted from The Firm. So Mr. Grisham you are getting too predictable these days, think of something new!!

5) To shake of spies and people tracking you, catch a flight out of the city to another city by paying cash. Do it two or three times and you are safe. Mitch does it in The Firm and Darby does it time and again in The Pelican Brief.

Coming back to this book, the story starts very slowly. In fact, the first two chapters were too sleepy. I put the novel down after these two chapters and only picked it up because I didn't have any other novel at that point of time. But after the murders take place the novel picks up the pace, and goes at break neck pace till Darby is on the run. Then the story moves in jumps and starts. It's a 400 odd page novel which could have been nicely wrapped in 200 odd pages.

There are some interesting interludes like the ones in the White House where we have a dumb President (who keeps playing golf all the time which reminded me of the golf scenes from Fahreinheit 9/11) and a smartass Chief of Staff taking on the FBI heads and the CIA heads. Apart from that the writing is pedestrian.

About the author
John Grisham is a bestselling author having authored bestsellers like The Client, The Firm, The Chamber etc. He started his car as a lawyer and hence the heavy amount of coverage that lawyers receive in his novels. He started his career with a novel called The Time to Kill. He is currently working on a novel called The Broker.

The Pelican Brief is a decent timepass if you have not read the other John Grisham novels. Otherwise, it is the same run of the mill story following a similar pattern and becoming quite predictable.

As I am reading this novel after The Firm and The Client, I tend to rate this novel only about a three starrer.

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