Pros:Realistic characters, great plot
Cons:None in my opinion, unless you really don't like thrillers.
The Bottom Line: Read it now and you won't be disappointed.
This is the first book I've read by John Grisham, and I have to say I'm very impressed. The Brethren is a tale of political intrigue, corruption and covert CIA operations. My Australian friend has long been his biggest fan, but until I bought this on an impulse at an airport when I realised I had nothing to read (and the flight was a couple of hours away), I'd never read his work, or, I believe, seen a film made from one of his books. So it was really a step into unchartered territory to me.
So here goes...
Three inmates at a low-security prison dream up a mail scam, posing as a young handsome man at drug re-hab, with the intention of blackmailing money from rich, middle-aged gay men. The scheme is highly successful, but manages to ensnare the wrong victim.
That victim is Aaron Lake, running for President of the United States in an election being rigged for the sake of national security. The story revolves mainly around the scam and the Presidential campaign, with various sub-plots all the way through. These sub-plots are what really make the book work - they keep twisting and turning around the main strands, and always leave you wondering just what's around the corner.
What impressed me most about this book was the way that each character's motives were explored. Everyone has their own agenda; more importantly, each has their own idea about what the other character's agenda is. This makes for some very interesting battles of wits throughout the book. Another interesting feature is that most of the characters are nearing their retirement so what they're doing would be their final act, as it were, before they slip off the scene. This gives an interesting change of perspective. There is little in the way of introspective musings over possible long-term outcomes of the character's actions on themselves, because they haven't got a long-term left to think about.
The plot is developed at a good pace, and maintains your interest throughout. Characters that are being re-introduced to the story after not being mentioned for a long time often have a sentence about them just to remind you who they are; unobtrusive but handy if you, like me, find yourself forgetting some of the less important characters when they are suddenly involved in the plot again.
Overall I feel Grisham's style of writing perfectly complements the genre and I admire him for not using bad language, which so many writers do needlessly, even when expressing strong emotions. This is the first novel I have read by John Grisham; it certainly won't be my last.
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