Although John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief is described as a legal novel, it reads like an Ian Fleming–Stephen King cross.
The plot is about an attempt to pack the Supreme Court with justices who will be favorable to a new Louisiana oil drilling operation that will mean billions to a secretive donor to the Republican president and extinction to the Louisiana brown pelican.
In a single evening, a professional hit man kills the court’s oldest justice, a liberal, and the court’s youngest justice, a conservative. The FBI is baffled. What reason could anyone have for killing that pair of justices?
Law student Darby Shaw spends a couple days in the library and whips out a cui bono analysis. Her law prof/lover gives her “pelican brief” to a friend in the federal government, who passes it on.
Suddenly the prof is dead and assassins are after Darby.
Darby contacts a Washington Post reporter; together they fight for truth, justice, and the American way.
The bad guy who manipulated the president gets his comeuppances.
Darby and the reporter go off to the Virgin Islands together.
And the President is left practicing his putting in the Oval Office.
The whole thing’s too implausible for fiction.
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
Doubleday. ©1992. 371 p.
1992 bestseller #2; my grade: C
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni