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Publisher's Summary

Trumble is a minimum security federal prison, a "camp," home to the usual assortment of relatively harmless criminals - drug dealers, bank robbers, swindlers, embezzlers, tax evaders, two Wall Street crooks, one doctor, and at least five lawyers. And three former judges who call themselves the Brethren: one from Texas, one from California, and one from Mississippi. They meet each day in the law library, their turf at Trumble, where they write briefs, handle cases for other inmates, practice law without a license, and sometimes dispense jailhouse justice. And 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 outside, a man with dangerous friends. The Brethren's days of quietly marking time are over.
©2000 Belfrey Holdings, Inc. (P)2000 Random House, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Story
  • Claire
  • Jerusalem, Israel
  • 04-20-14

Very disappointing.

There are three story lines in The Brethren. One takes place mainly in a minimum security federal prison camp where three disgraced former federal judges are incarcerated and from where they operate an extortion scam. A second story line takes place entirely within "the bunker", a windowless room from which Teddy Maynard, the aging and disabled director of the CIA, plays kingmaker and manipulates domestic and international events. The third story line involves the people outside prison and the CIA who are affected by the machinations of the judges and the kingmaker: primarily the judges' lawyer and their victims.

The plot is based on the premise that Teddy Maynard, the CIA director cum kingmaker feels that the US needs a stronger military. To that end, he grooms a relatively unknown member of Congress, Representative Aaron Lake, to become the next president of the United States, a president beholden to the CIA and especially to Teddy himself. With unlimited funds, personnel and influence, Teddy molds reality to his liking.

But all the resources that Teddy commands almost fail to discover Lake's secret, a secret that would surely lose him the election if discovered. The bulk of the novel is about the extensive measures taken by Teddy and the CIA to protect their investment in Lake, eventually bringing together the three story lines in what is probably supposed to be a shocking conclusion.

Not one of the characters in the book is well-developed. None of them have interior lives and none of them are particularly interesting. Indeed, none of them are particularly likable. I was unable to connect with any of the characters enough to root for or against them. Their interactions are formulaic. They seem to have no hopes or dreams, no love, no hate, no regrets, no ambition.

The great potential for including CIA gadgets and "trade craft" to spark interest went unexploited. The legal side of the story--John Grisham's strong suit--is completely neglected. The three women in the book are almost caricatures... but so are most of the men.

The narration by John Muller was marred by his habit of exhaling while pronouncing words, making it sound like he was on the treadmill while recording.

All in all, I found The Brethren a great disappointment. The only reason I listened all the way to the end was my vain hope that there would be a twist in the story and something interesting would happen


3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Neicy
  • West Monroe, LA, United States
  • 09-11-12

Interesting and thought provoking

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, Just to discuss issues the story provokes

Any additional comments?

It makes you think that there are a lot behind politicians we don't see

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  • Story
  • Sherry
  • Brunswick, Maine, United States
  • 07-16-12

Very dated, unfortunately

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I expect John Grisham would change it, too, now. A huge part of the plot is a scam to trap and extort gay men, and everyone in the book treats this as though it is the most horrific, dirty, unacceptable secret ever. Just seems both dated and impossibly silly in this day and age, when being gay is not such a big deal. But at times it came off as really homophobic.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Actually I'm not there yet.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Frank Muller?

No, I'm going to try to avoid him -- he's very breathy, trailing off into an ominous whisper even on very ordinary sentences.

Pretty good job doing a variety of voices, so if you don't mind a little overdramatic breathy whispering, he might not bug you.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Taiwo
  • Germantown, MD, United States
  • 06-18-12

Narration was the resistance, very disappointing.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Could not get over the irritation of the narration, as a result was unable to get to the end if the book. I have tried to listen and press on three times now, but cannot.

What didn’t you like about Frank Muller’s performance?

High mono tone ran throughout. Very irritating.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I will, because I think the story is good I was just put off by the narrator.

Any additional comments?

The book might be worth listening to with another narrator.

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  • Diane
  • Clio, MI, United States
  • 06-18-12

Pretty typical for Grisham....great & witty!

Would you listen to The Brethren again? Why?

I would read The Brethren again. If I ran out of other books on audible and if I'd read all of Grisham's others, I suppose I'd pick this one off again.

What other book might you compare The Brethren to and why?

This one is quick spirited and witty like The Street Lawyer. Fast paced.

What does Frank Muller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Everything! Whether he's speeding up or slowing down the sentences or words themselves it helps in getting the images in my head. I can almost see the people in the story just by the narrative tone.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Nothing particular, I was just amused actually by the "inmates" of the story....what a hoot!

Any additional comments?

The only other comment I have about this book is that I was glad I got it. It was a fast read, as all Grisham's are for me. I've read about 7 now and going back for more.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Awesome book

If you could sum up The Brethren in three words, what would they be?

Awesome, compelling and page TURNER (if it had pages)

What did you like best about this story?

The plot was awesome. The charters are wonderful and the story makes you want to keep listening to the book. The nice thing about this could actual actually happen.

What does Frank Muller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His book was great. It added to the excitement of the plot of the book.

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  • greg
  • sarasota, FL, United States
  • 02-18-12

Predictable Monotonous Noir

Slow, plodding and completely predictable. And if that wasn't bad enough Grisham presented only unlikable, morally despicable characters, not an admirable protagonist in the bunch.

This novel was a waste of my time and left me feeling blah. Muller's droning narration seemed to mimic my overall take on the story. I'll think twice before investing in another Grisham offering

Can't recommend.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 02-04-12

Depressing topic. No one was fun to watch.

Problem 1: There was no one to root for, no one to like. I don’t mind a story about a bunch of bad guys, as long as I can enjoy watching one or more of them. But no one was fun to watch. In the beginning I thought Lake might be a good guy, but later I didn’t care for him. And he did some stupid things. The CIA did some smart things but also some incompetent things.

Problem 2: Whenever I was reading about Teddy and the Lake campaign, I was depressed. I didn’t enjoy seeing how easy it was to get tons of money from special interests. I didn’t like reading about the power of the CIA to orchestrate bombings and kill people just for the campaign. And I did not enjoy some of the other things the CIA did.

Problem 3: I don’t want to spoil things and say how often and to whom this happened, but I really did NOT like the idea of giving into blackmail and paying it.

Problem 4: I did not like the ending. Good things happened to bad guys. It was unpleasant, distasteful. It did not feel good.

There were a few times I chuckled over some things, but they were minor and not often enough. One scene I liked was when some CIA guys met with Quince, one of the extortion victims. Quince was horrified that they knew about his correspondence with Ricky, and then he was shocked that they wanted to help him. It was funny.

NARRATOR & PRODUCTION:
The narrator Frank Muller was excellent as usual. The editing/production had a problem. About a dozen times one sentence was erroneously repeated.

  • Overall
  • Randall
  • Grand Haven, MI, USA
  • 06-16-09

Good story, bad reading

Grisham again manages to weave an intricate plot and surprise a reader with unpredictable twists and turns. Unfortunately, Frank Muller's reading was so obnoxious, it was a struggle to finish listening to it. The exaggerated breathiness and painful intonation were irritating and distasteful. I don't know what Muller was paid for this travesty, but it was too much. Needless to say, I won't buy anything more he may have loaned his voice to.

6 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very interesting plot.

but ultimately still a Grisham novel... lack of depth is a problem.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful