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Book Review: The Pelican Brief

By Gary R. Hess. Category: Books
The Pelican Brief

Darby Shaw, a soon-to-be law graduate and second in her class, is thrown into the midst of a nationwide manhunt after she single-handedly solves the murder of two Supreme Court Justices. At first, she shrugged off the idea and thought about throwing her report into the nearest trash bin. However, her lover who also happens to be one of her law professors, takes the briefing and hands it to a law friend of his who works with the FBI.

After the professors visit with the FBI lawyer, mysterious and unexplainable events start to happen. That's if, of course, you don't believe in Darby's report. The lawyer attempts to help her, but she is simply too scared to accept it.

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The character coincidences throughout the entire book are incredibly unbelievable. The Pelican Brief might have well have been written as fantasy instead of fiction. A law school student's father leaves her money, her boyfriend knows an FBI lawyer, and she somehow had someone looking after her when she needed it most. Not to mention that she outwits the FBI and the world's most notorious killer for quite some time.

Right.

Not only is Darby Shaw a beautiful 5'8 long-legged woman, but she's also one of the world's best disappearing artists who knows what to do at exactly the right time. Her only mistake comes when she's tired, hungry, and the person she is supposed to meet is impersonated, which isn't completely her fault. Maybe she should have taken more precautions.

Despite John Grisham's love for the protagonist, he seems to have a low tolerance for lawyers and he displays his huge ego to the world. A law school student outwits the world's top killer and the FBI for more than two weeks before the crime is resolved.

It may sound like a lawyer love-fest, but it's not. Darby is the exception to the point. All the other lawyers in the book are sex maniacs, big-headed, or are slow in making decisions. Of course, in the end Darby does the same thing Mr. Grisham did: she decides she doesn't want to practice law.

The writing style appears to change from cover to cover. As you flow through the book, Grisham seems to grow as a writer. In the beginning, he shows slight dark humor, especially during the murders. Yet as the novel goes on, the more the author falls in love with Darby and the less dark humor takes place. He forces the reader to become attracted to this young and vibrant woman.

During the first half of the book, something else is different. Here, you can count on Grisham to throw out one word per chapter that even fluent English speakers need a dictionary to comprehend. He attempts to show his intelligence by using words such as "incredulous" while using law speak like dissent, litigation, appeal, docket, and sanction. Of course, that should be assumed when reading a law book.

According to Penguin Readers, The Pelican Brief uses 2300 different words.

Overall, The Pelican Brief is long-winded and repetitive, yet somehow it remains entertaining and comes out as John Grisham's most entertaining novel. It may not be a "can't miss", but it is definitely worth reading if you enjoy crime or law novels.