Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Brethren

Posted by nliakos on November 26, 2014

by John Grisham (Doubleday, 2000)

This is my first ever John Grisham novel; I guess they’re not my type. A friend lent it to me, so I read it (I needed something light after Mother Father Deaf!). It was a quick read. Basically it’s the story of a man running for President as a kind of front for the CIA (they want increased military spending and are happy to manipulate a lot of people to get it) who stumbles into a scam run by three “felonious judges” in a federal prison. The judges have placed an ad in a gay magazine; with it, they have snared a number of closeted older men and commenced blackmailing them in exchange for a promise of secrecy (which of course they do not keep). Aaron Lake, the candidate who was carefully vetted by the CIA and found to be squeaky clean, has taken the bait. The novel follows the CIA’s attempts to prevent a scandal from breaking.

What I didn’t like about the book is that all of the characters are dishonest, disreputable, mean, or stupid. There was not one that I would ever want to meet; that’s important for me in a novel. I want to read about people I can identify with. (This is the reason I did not like Gone with the Wind.)  Furthermore, the government workers (CIA director and employees as well as congressmen and senators) as well as prison personnel lawyers are all corrupt, lazy, or incompetent (or all three). People who read this book and who blur the line between fiction and fact (like the viewers of JFK who believed Oliver Stone’s conspiracy theory) would have a horrible impression of their government (as so many people do nowadays).

The plot was strong, however; I was never bored. Will I run right out to find another Grisham novel? No, but if one dropped into my lap I would probably read it.

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