The Brethren

John Grisham, Author Doubleday $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-49746-6
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)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-1-4159-5135-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-440-23667-2
Paperback - 477 pages - 978-84-663-0259-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-50241-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-20580-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-440-23698-6
Paperback - 88 pages - 978-0-582-45352-4
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7569-0402-9
Hardcover - 528 pages - 978-0-375-40972-1
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-0-375-72796-2
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-33284-2
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 258 pages - 978-0-307-57597-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 440 pages - 978-0-345-53197-1
Audio Product - 978-1-85686-917-1
Paperback - 104 pages - 978-1-4058-8238-5
Hardcover - 366 pages - 978-0-385-49748-0
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-45664-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52684-4
Paperback - 373 pages - 978-0-385-33967-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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