The Brethren (novel)

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The Brethren
J.G-The Brethren.jpg
First edition cover
Author John Grisham
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 416 (hardback edition), 440 (paperback edition)
ISBN 0-385-49746-6
OCLC 54083777
LC Class PS3557.R5355 B74 2000b

The Brethren is a legal thriller novel by American author John Grisham, published in 2000.


Three former judges (known as "The Brethren") incarcerated at Trumble, a fictional, federal minimum security prison located in northern Florida, develop a scam to deceive and exploit wealthy closeted gay men. None of them are gay, but they write convincingly as two young vulnerable gay men, Ricky and Percy, undergoing therapy. They also attach attractive photos of men they know nothing about. They first develop a friendship, and then ask for financial help. In some cases, they also try blackmail.

With the help of their lawyer, Trevor Carson, they transfer their ill-gotten money to a secret Bahamian bank account. He takes one-third, and also employs private detectives to investigate the men they have contacted. This takes over from his normal legal business, which had been making very little money for him.

Meanwhile, Teddy Maynard, the ruthless and soon-to-retire director of the CIA, is orchestrating a scheme to control the United States presidential election. Aaron Lake, a strongly pro-defense expenditure Congressman has been identified, and Maynard is determined to control him - and then get him elected. He is to run on a program of doubling military spending, and arms manufacturers support him. The CIA director, determined to get Lake elected, is completely ruthless - even to the extent of colluding in a terrorist blowing up the U.S. embassy in Cairo and killing 80 Americans in order to create the public atmosphere conducive for election of a defense-oriented candidate.

Unknowingly, the Brethren hook Teddy's candidate for President. He is a widower and has lady friends, but also a secret gay side that the CIA had missed when they selected him. When they discover this, the CIA scrambles to stop the judges and their lawyer from finding out what they've done. But a leak has sprung. It takes all of Teddy's experience with illegal maneuvering to save his candidate from being exposed.

The Brethren lose their trust in Trevor and fire him; he is later killed by CIA agents in the Caribbean. The CIA plant a man inside Trumble, who tells the judges that he knows they have been involved in the scam. A deal is worked out, money changes hands and the judges are pardoned by the outgoing President at Maynard's insistence. The judges leave the country and travel in Europe. Later, they restart the scam. Meanwhile, Lake gets duly elected President and the CIA director - eager to dispose of the last remnants of his gay involvement - selects for him a suitable First Lady.

The outgoing President is not named; however, he is mentioned as a Democrat, on the last year of his second term, whose Vice President is contesting the upcoming elections - all of which fit the situation of President Bill Clinton at the time of writing. An important past of the book's background is the situation in Russia - the reason for the CIA director's drastic acts throughout the book is his apprehension of a new Russian strongman taking power and seeking to restore Russia's international position, re-igniting the Cold War. The book was written at the time when Vladimir Putin embarked on his road to power in Russia - though he rose by elections while Grisham's fictional Russian leader resorted to a military coup.

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