John Grisham is the author of Skipping Christmas, The Summons, A Painted House, The Brethren, The Testament, The Street Lawyer, The Partner, The Runaway Jury, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Firm, and A Time to Kill. He lives with his family in Mississippi and Virginia.
Only a few megaselling authors of popular fiction deviate dramatically from formula--most notably Stephen King but recently Grisham, too. He's serializing a literary novel, A Painted House, in the Oxford American; his last thriller (The Testament) emphasized spirituality as intensely as suspense; and his deeply absorbing new novel dispenses with a staple not only of his own work but of most commercial fiction: the hero. The novel does feature three antiheroes of a sort, the brethren of the title, judges serving time in a federal prison in Florida for white-collar offenses. They're a hard bunch to root for, though, as their main activity behind bars is running a blackmail scheme in which they bait, hook and squeeze wealthy, closeted gay men through a magazine ad supposedly placed by "Ricky," a young incarcerated gay looking for companionship. Then there's the two-bit alcoholic attorney who's abetting them by running their mail and depositing their dirty profits in an overseas bank. Scarcely more appealing is the big fish the trio snare, Congressman Anthony Lake, who meanwhile is busy selling his lifelong integrity when the director of the CIA offers to lever him into the White House in exchange for a doubling of federal defense spending upon Lake's inauguration. The expertly orchestrated and very complex plot follows these evildoers through their illicit enterprises, devoting considerable attention to the CIA's staging of Lake's presidential campaign and even more to that agency's potentially lethal pursuit of the brethren once it learns that the three are threatening to out candidate Lake. Every personage in this novel lies, cheats, steals and/or kills, and while Grisham's fans may miss the stalwart lawyer-heroes and David vs. Goliath slant of his earlier work, all will be captivated by this clever thriller that presents as crisp a cast as he's yet devised, and as grippingly sardonic yet bitingly moral a scenario as he's ever imagined. Agent, David Gernert. 2.8 million first printing. (Feb. 1) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
The Brethren are three ex-judges in a country club prison in Florida who settle disputes among other inmates and help with appeals. They also have a mail scam going that extorts money from middle-aged gay men taking their first tentative steps out of the closet. These are the good guys. Meanwhile, CIA director Teddy Maynard has chosen obscure Arizona Congressman Aaron Lake to become the nation's next president, offering him the message (double defense spending), the money, and the means to shape events to become a surefire winner. Take a deep breath. The listener will be asked to swallow some incredible coincidences, including the extortion scheme's snagging the hitherto immaculate Lake. Reader Michael Beck brings a great deal of energy to his narration. The abridgment works pretty well, though some subplots inevitably get shortchanged, and at least one important scene takes place off-camera. Grisham's (A Time To Kill) ending is weak, but if ever a title rendered criticism irrelevant, this is the one. Buy it for demand rather than merit; you probably already have.DJohn Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Gripping ... engaging and fast-paced ... will hook you from the first page and won't let you go."--New York Post
"A crackerjack tale."--Entertainment Weekly "Fast-paced and action-packed...you'll be thoroughly entertained."--New Orleans Times-Picayune "The plot is as up-to-date as tomorrow's newspaper, with allusions to presidential polls and debates, campaign financing, money laundering and offshore financial finagling.... Add to these tantalizing ingredients the steady action, with some clever surprises." --The New York Times A Main Selection of the Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, and the Mystery Guild