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4.0 out of 5 stars Corrupt Lawyers Act on Behalf of a Corrupt Client to Manipulate Corrupt Politicians and Be Chased by Investigative Reporters
If you are thinking about going to law school, this wouldn't be a bad novel to read to get a sense of what the profession is all about before you commit yourself to three expensive (and potentially boring) years of education. I don't recall a book that displays so many of the corrupt sides of legal practice and education in a single fictional tale. If that weren't enough,...
Published on 24 April 2008 by Donald Mitchell

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere near brief enough
If it is plot you are after, The Pelican Brief has several. There is the billionaire mastermind holed up on a Caribbean Island. There is the assassin - a Master of Disguise who speaks a number of languages. There is the threat to an endangered species. There is the turf war between the FBI and the CIA. There is the White House, corrupted by a power-mad aide while the...
Published 15 months ago by G. M. Sinstadt


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere near brief enough, 17 July 2013
By 
G. M. Sinstadt - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Kindle Edition)
If it is plot you are after, The Pelican Brief has several. There is the billionaire mastermind holed up on a Caribbean Island. There is the assassin - a Master of Disguise who speaks a number of languages. There is the threat to an endangered species. There is the turf war between the FBI and the CIA. There is the White House, corrupted by a power-mad aide while the President practises his putting on the floor of the oOval Office. There is the investigative journalist writing "the biggest story of his career." There is some legal background as is common with Grisham. Oh, and there is a sexy 24-year-old with long legs. In short, every cliche bar the kitchen sink.

To make it work would have taken a better writer. Grisham seems never to revise, never to wonder if something could be better expressed. So someone asleep is "dead to the world" (more than once). Two nurses "sort of" drag a patient; the journalist "sort of" dances to the phone. People "ease into" a room, "ease through" a door, traffic "eases" downtown. And "rather unique" is meaningless; there are no fractions of uniqueness.

Characterisation is one dimensional and sometimes plain unbelievable: the girl vacillates between being immobilised by fear and making inordinately detailed plans for her escape - only to put off discussing them in one instance until she had had "a bite to eat." On another occasion "there was not a second to lose." And for the nice girl she is portrayed as the phrase "spill my guts" sits uncomfortably.

This is a very long, tedious book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Legal Thriller without the thrills, 8 Feb 2013
This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
6/10

I was disappointed with this overall and feel that the 6 out of 10 is slightly generous. The previous Grisham novel I have read, "The Partner", was a solid page turner whereas this one never really got going. I couldn't get into the main story and it felt like Grisham was trying to keep a fast pace and glossed over a couple of areas which could have been fleshed out more and created a better overall read.

The thing that annoyed me first was the obsession Grisham had with drumming home the fact that Darby was a good looking, young, smart female. I got it the first time she was described; I didn't need every male character to then mention how stunning she was. Hit men who are paid to hunt her down and kill her are busy oohing and aahing at her good looks. Do the bad guys only hire hit men who think with the wrong kind of gun? Even the guys who are in grave danger go on about it. Give it a rest!

I do have my qualms with this book and whilst it never got flowing as I expected there were some good ideas overall. But once you understood the conspiracy and what she wrote in the brief, there were over a 100 pages left it took a little nose dive in pacing and interest. The characters weren't great either so they couldn't keep the story going at the end. Talking of endings, this one was rubbish. I genuinely wanted to throw the book on the floor when reading the last chapter.

Obviously I wasn't impressed but I will read more from this author and put this one down as a misunderstanding. I much prefer the Mickey Haller series by Michael Connolley and would recommend them to anyone looking for a good legal thriller but I have a few more of Grisham's novels lined up and hoping he can supply me with a good thriller down the line.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Time Filler, 15 May 2008
By 
A.K.Farrar "AKF" (Timisoara, Romania) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
The Pelican Brief is a good time filler.

I took four sessions to finish the 420-odd pages, and didn't feel pressed for time - it is a rapid read.

The plot is sort of realistic in that you can imagine someone wanting to bump off a couple of American Supreme Court justices to change the `political' make-up of the Supreme court - but the book does stretch credibility a little with the descriptions and personalities of both the victims and their executioner - it seemed as though Gresham had gone through a check list of `most likely to make a best seller' qualities and selected them for inclusion.

The same too with his heroine, Darby Shaw, who is a least female and intelligent - more intelligent than most of the other characters in the book. However, she never really escapes the cliché of female as victim in need of a good man to support her. Why did she have to be a blond bombshell? Why couldn't she have been short, stumpy even, and ugly? Why does the book have to end in such a `happy ever after' way on a beach?

One answer is the sales figures - and film rights.

All the way through I felt I was getting exactly what I wanted - no surprise other than a needed plot twist, no truly ambiguous character - just good guy and bad guy (and a very obvious - you got it wrong, good guy portrayed as bad).

And some very film-able locations - including Washington, New York and a pre-deluge New Orleans.

It occupied me pleasantly enough, but I ended with a - that's it? and so what? Turned the light off, and slept well.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but vaguely dissatisfying, 24 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
This was my first John Grisham novel, and while it won't deter me from reading any of his other works, I'm not exactly going to be jumping on his bandwagon either. The premise of the story is simple enough. A brilliant young legal student writes her own theory about who murdered two Supreme Court judges and why. What she doesn't realise is that her theories are actually bang on target, and before long, the bad guys are out to get her.
For the first two thirds of the novel, I couldn't put it down. It was a bona fide page turner, but as more and more of the story unfolded, I couldn't help but feel that Grisham was somehow cheating me out of a better novel. The vast majority of the characters we meet in the book have already read the contents of Darby's brief, but Grisham decides to leave the reader completely in the dark until the last act. It reeks of convenient plot device : here we have twenty odd characters wandering around with full knowledge of The Brief, and not one of them feels the need to talk about its contents, just so Darby can have her big Narrative Moment several hundred pages into the book. I haven't seen the film, but it doesn't take much thinking to know how Julia Roberts must have played it!
And it's pretty much downhill from there. With the big mystery out of the way, the novel devolves into the usual scenarios. Will the bad guys find Darby ? Will she expose the villains ? Will she survive ? It doesn't take a genius to work it out, and the continual cat-and-mouse chases are fairly standard, been-there-done-that, thriller fare.
The last hundred or so pages of the novel are padded out beyond belief. I kept waiting for something more to happen, and when it didn't, I wondered why Grisham didn't just wrap them up into one small chapter. My only other major complaint is that the 'twist' at the end of the book about who were and were not the bad guys is laughable, and added nothing whatsoever to the story.
If I could sum this book up in one phrase it would be 'ho-hum, where's my next book?' Not dreadful, but not exactly the highlight of my reading career either.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Corrupt Lawyers Act on Behalf of a Corrupt Client to Manipulate Corrupt Politicians and Be Chased by Investigative Reporters, 24 April 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
If you are thinking about going to law school, this wouldn't be a bad novel to read to get a sense of what the profession is all about before you commit yourself to three expensive (and potentially boring) years of education. I don't recall a book that displays so many of the corrupt sides of legal practice and education in a single fictional tale. If that weren't enough, the book also delves deeply into the international assassination genre and creates a modern-day fictional version of investigating a government cover-up at the highest levels, a la Watergate.

But a pure heart among all the jaded ones can make a difference . . . that's the morale of this story as beautiful, dedicated, and brilliant law student Darby Shaw speculates on what motive might tie the assassination of two Supreme Court justices back to a pending legal case. Improbably (the weakest part of the story), she sniffs out the potential that no one else does -- that this is an attempt to fix an appeal.

The Pelican Brief as a title is a misnomer. Darby writes her thoughts (a crude essay, not a brief) about what might be going on and shares them with her professor lover who passes them along to a counsel for the FBI. Pretty soon someone is taking her ideas seriously, and the pages will fly through your fingers as fast as you can read until you get to the end.

John Grisham doesn't quite have his genres down in this book, and apparently the success of The Firm meant that his editors were more interested in getting The Pelican Brief published than making it better. You could fix this novel into a five-star effort with about two hours of editing to reduce the improbabilities and speed up the slow parts.

But if you don't mind having unlikely events pull a riveting story together, you'll have a lot of fun with The Pelican Brief. I listened to the reading by Alexander Adams and felt that the story worked better listened to than it would be if read silently.

I admire John Grisham for the imagination to conceive of such a wild story. He kept surprising me with his plot developments, and the trip was almost all fun.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Pelican 'Good Grief!', 4 April 2006
By 
This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
Wooooooooooooosssshhhhh!
That is the sound of a John Grisham story zipping by. 'The Pelican Brief' is the most fast paced novel I have read since 'Good News, Bad News' and it suffers from the same limitations.
'The Pelican Brief' was written by Grisham when his earliest novels had just been made into films. I think his flirtation with Hollywood damaged this book as rather than concentrating on characters and storyline this novel seems to throw most of that aside so that a series of fast paced events can occur.
I heard that he had Julia Roberts in mind to play the lead character so the book is written with her in mind. Darcy is a talented law student who begins her own investigation into the murder of two Supreme Court Judges. She stumbles across an obscure case that links the murders to a rich entrepreneur and in turn to the President of the United States.
Who can she tell about this brief, who can she trust? It turns out no-one and she must survive long enough for the truth to be known.
'The Pelican Brief' is a fun and quick read but due to its disjointed nature does feel a little rushed. Also the ending third loses its way and undoes some of the good of the previous chapters.
For a better Grisham chase novel I suggest the superior 'The Broker' which covers similar themes but in a much better paced and intelligent way. Let's hope Grisham sticks to writing novels rather than trying to write screenplays!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced, Easy Reading, 8 Oct 2014
By 
David McCrae (Banchory/ Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
I have read several Grisham books and this lived up to the expectations he has built up for me. Engaging characters (if slightly stereotyped and/or caricatured), interesting plot and a desire to reach the finale. Grisham's style is very easy to read, even though from a literary point of view he relies a little too much on adverbs and cliches. The plot teases out information as to the bigger picture, these little reveals keep you hooked and wanting to read on. I like in particular how the explanation for 'the pelican brief' is kept from the reader until over halfway through the story. My main criticism however is the protagonist. She is just too perfect: attractive, intelligent, tough, adaptable. Her romance arc in the second half of the book I also found contrived and unrealistic. It was if Grisham felt the need to crowbar in a romantic interest to 'tick some boxes' and provide the foundations for a happy ending. The ending also I was slightly disappointed in. Grisham usually puts a little twist in the end of the books of his I've read and this lacked that. I can see what he was trying to achieve with his last chapter but I felt it fell a little short of giving me that 'ahhh' feeling when you finish a good, engaging novel. These criticisms aside I cannot fault the book on its entertainment value and would recommend it to fans of Grisham or thrillers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and pacey., 29 July 2007
This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. It is a story which has you gripped from a very early stage.

There are numerous threads of the story which are crafted well into one another as the story progresses. The number of threads adds to the pace of the story, with the reader easily able to keep up with each set of characters, and thier roles in the outcome. The writing is clear, relevant and flows easily, all of which contribute to why it's so difficult to put the book down. The characters are descibed well and are easy to remember which makes it easy for the reader for follow numerous threads as they evolve and merge.

This book also gives an interesting insight into the power and vulnerability of those at the top of the food chain, where the reader feels like they know a bit more about the president's life than when they started the book.

I would definately recommend this book to anyone looking for an exciting thriller. I have not seen the film, but it is clear as you read on that this is definatley a book written to be made into a movie.

Buy it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A little dated, american and extraordinary, 2 July 2009
By 
Jim J-R (West Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
An interesting read which I've left for too long before getting round to writing a review of. Once again I enjoyed it, although it was a little dated and American, but its' focus was less on the complex machinations of the us legal machine and focussed more on government, which is something I know a little more about.

The plot seemed a little too extraordinary at the start, especially as the main character was the only person to realise what was happening. It seemed a little odd that no-one else would twig, especially after the word Pelican was brought into it.

The cast weren't particularly diverse - in fact the main character seemed a bit of a rehash of one of the characters from 'A Time To Kill', who had appeared out of place there but slotted into this role perfectly.

Overall I would say this was a good book and worth reading, but Grisham's plots seem to be getting a little too similar - almost all of them involve someone running away, there being a big change in their character throughout the book, and then at the very end running away again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read, 26 July 2011
By 
D. G. Bartley (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pelican Brief (Paperback)
This story is followed almost exactly by the film so if the film was to your taste you will enjoy this novel.
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