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The Brethren

By Travis Jackson,2014-11-04 20:33
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Amazon.com ReviewJohn Grisham's novels have all been so systematically successful that it is easy to forget he is just one man toiling away silently with a pen, experimenting and improving with each book. While not as gifted a prose stylist as Scott Turow, Grisham is among the best plotters in the thriller business, and he infuses his books with a moral valence and creative vision that set them apart from their peers.The Brethren is in many respects his most daring book yet. The novel grows from two separate subplots. In the first, three imprisoned ex-judges (the "brethren" in the title), frustrated by their loss of power and influence, concoct an elaborate blackmail scheme that preys on wealthy, closeted gay men. The second story traces the rise of presidential Published by Delta on 2005/12/27

    The Brethren

    The Brethren THE ? ? ? ? THE BRETHREN ? ? BY ? ?

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    JOHN GRISHAM

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    ISLAND BOOKS

    Published by Dell Publishing a division of Random House,

    ?Inc. 1540 Broadway NewYork, NewYork 10036

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    Copyright ? 2000 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.

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    ISBN: 0-440-29580-7

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    The Brethren

    ONE

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    For the weekly docket the court jester jester wore his standard garb of well-used and deeplyfaded maroon pajamas and lavender terry-cloth shower shoes with no socks. He wasn't the onlyinmate who went about his daily business in his pajamas, but no one else dared wear lavendershoes. His name was T Karl, and he'd once owned banks in Boston.

    The pajamas and shoes weren't nearly as troubling as the wig. It parted at the middle androlled in layers downward, over his ears, with tight curls coiling off into three directions,and fell heavily onto his shoulders. It was a bright gray, almost white, and fashioned afterthe Old English magistrate's wigs from centuries earlier. A friend on the outside had found itat a secondhand costume store in Manhattan, in the Village.

    T Karl wore it to court with great pride, and, odd as it was, it had, with time, become part ofthe show. The other inmates kept their distance from T Karl anyway, wig or not.

    He stood behind his flimsy folding table in the prison cafeteria, tapped a plastic mallet thatserved as a gavel, cleared his squeaky throat, and announced with great dignity: “Hear ye,hear ye, hear ye. The Inferior Federal Court of North Florida is now in session. Please rise.”

    No one moved, or at least no one made an effort to stand. Thirty inmates lounged in variousstages of repose in plastic cafeteria chairs, some looking at the court jester, some chatting

away as if he didn't exist.

    T Karl continued: “Let all ye who search for justice draw nigh and get screwed.”

    No laughs. It had been funny months earlier when T Karl first tried it. Now it was just anotherpart of the show. He sat down carefully, making sure the rows of curls bouncing upon hisshoulders were given ample chance to be seen, then he opened a thick red leather book whichserved as the official record for the court. He took his work very seriously.

    Three men entered the room from the kitchen.Two of them wore shoes. One was eating a saltine.The one with no shoes was also bare-legged up to his knees, so that below his robe his spindlylegs could be seen. They were smooth and hairless and very brown from the sun.A large tattoohad been applied to his left calf. He was from California.

    All three wore old church robes from the same choir, pale green with gold trim. They came fromthe same store as T Karl's wig, and had been presented by him as gifts at Christmas.That washow he kept his job as the court's official clerk.

    There were a few hisses and jeers from the spectators as the judges ambled across the tilefloor in full regalia, their robes flowing. They took their places behind a long folding table,near T Karl but not too near,and faced the weekly gathering. The short round one sat in themiddle. Joe Roy Spicer was his name, and by default he acted as the Chief Justice of thetribunal. In his previous life, judge Spicer had been a justice of the Peace in Mississippi,duly elected by the people of his little county, and sent away when the feds caught himskimming bingo profits from a Shriners club.

    “Please be seated;” he said. Not a soul was standing.

    The judges adjusted their folding chairs and shook their robes until they fell properly aroundthem. The assistant warden stood to the side, ignored by the inmates. A guard in uniform waswith him. The Brethren met once a week with the prison's approval. They heard cases, mediateddisputes, settled little fights among the boys, and had generally proved to be a stabilizingfactor amid the population.

    Spicer looked at the docket, a neat hand-printed sheet of paper prepared by T Karl, and said,“Court shall come to order.”

    To his right was the Californian, the Honorable Finn Yarber, age sixty, in for two years nowwith five to go for income tax evasion. A vendetta, he still maintained to anyone who wouldlisten. A crusade by a Republican governor who'd managed to rally the voters in a recall driveto remove Chief Justice Yarber from the California Supreme Court. The rallying point had beenYarber's opposition to the death penalty, and his high-handedness in delaying every execution.Folks wanted blood, Yarber prevented it, the Republicans whipped up a frenzy, and the recallwas a smashing success. They pitched him onto the street, where he floundered for a while untilthe IRS began asking questions. Educated at Stanford, indicted in Sacramento, sentenced in SanFrancisco, and now serving his time at a federal prison in Florida.

    In for two years and Finn was still struggling with the bitterness. He still believed in hisown innocence, still dreamed of conquering his enemies. But the dreams were fading. He spent alot of time on the jogging track, alone, baking in the sun and -dreaming of another life.

    “First case is Schneiter versus Magruder,” Spicer announced as if a major antitrust trial wasabout to start.