Trumble is a minimum security federal prison, home to the usual assortment of relatively harmless criminals - including three former judges who call themselves The Brethren. They meet each day in the law library where they spend hours writing letters. They are fine-tuning a mail scam, and it's starting to really work. The money is pouring in. Then, their little scam goes awry. It ensnares the wrong victim, a powerful man on the outside, a man with dangerous friends, and The Brethren's days of quietly marking time are over.
Reviewed on 19th December 2010
Once again Grisham writes about but fails to confront prejudice in this somewhat lack-luster novel about a trio of imprisoned judges whose scam blackmails rich gay Americans. Meanwhile, the CIA are doing the best they can to force a Republican candidate of their choosing into the White House.
While the pace of the narrative is reasonable and the plot is interesting enough to keep the reader going, it's too outlandish to be believable. Grisham's early novels focussed on small lawyers taking on believable corruption, racism etc., but by this point he seems to be trying to 'do a Clancy' and move on to bigger and bolder settings - with this novel involving a presidential candidate.
The characters are all two-dimensional, with Lake proving the only exception, and him really being a bystander to the main events. The prison is full of stereotypical prisoners, the lawyers are boring and repetitive, and the CIA are cardboard cut-outs of which only one seems to have any character. They seem little more than automatons going through the motions of inevitability as the plot rolls along, heavily aided by coincidence and gullibility.
Overall, I have to admit that the book is very readable, but not worth it for the limited entertainment value.