The Coincidental Critic

Exploring the art of storytelling.

The Pelican Brief Just Wasn’t Brief Enough (SPOILERS)


My friend kept asking me to read “The Pelican Brief,” and I have finally gotten around to doing so.

John Grisham has a very unique way of story telling, something I have never seen before.  “The Pelican Brief” was told from the point of view of many different characters (I’m guessing at least twenty).  And these characters ranged from lawyers to politicians to FBI agents to reporters to assassins (I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m forgetting a group).  Because of the many different points of view, it was hard to pick out a single main character.  By the end of the book, I would say that Darby Shaw was the main character; however, she wasn’t even introduced in the book until midway through chapter two.  Because of this, I would say that the main character in “The Pelican Brief” shifts from the justices and politicians (such as Justice Rosenberg and Chief Justice Runyan) to Darby and Gary Gratham.  Grisham used an interesting approach to tell his story from several different points of views, allowing us to get a greater sense of what was going on.  And he did a great job in making each character unique.  However, I do believe that it was all a bit too confusing.  Grisham told the entire story in omniscient point of view, so we were able to read the thoughts of all the characters.  This provided a lot of information, but sometimes it was difficult to identify which character Grisham was referring to and I’d have to reread a passage.  Grisham constantly shifted point of view within single passages which was super confusing.  I had a hard time following who was thinking what.  I wish Grisham gave a bit more information as to whose point of view we were reading (such as titled sections) so it would be easier to follow.

Grisham has a habit of writing rather unappealing characters.  Now, I know that most of them were lawyers or politicians, who are known to be manipulative, power-hungry people; however, I wish Grisham branched from that stereotype.  I found every character in this book to be rather horrible, so I didn’t really care what happened to them.  I was invested in them enough to care about their progression in the story.

The story itself was a bit anticlimactic.  The biggest mystery in the book was figuring out who the killer was and why.  However, that mystery was solved in the middle of the book.  So all that was left was catching the guy.  This wasn’t enough to keep my interest and push me further into the story.  I also found it incredibly predictable once Gray and Darby started talking.  It was obvious that they would get more information, and then publish a story revealing everything.  I almost wanted Darby’s Pelican Brief to be wrong so that the story was more twisty and exciting.

I did not like the ending to this book.  The book started as a political drama, but ended as a love story.  I didn’t like how Grisham chose the last scene of his book to be of that with Darby and Gray at the beach finally able to be in love.  It took away from the rest of the book and was completely unnecessary, and I just couldn’t believe that Darby would fall in love with anyone that reminded her of the Pelican Brief and the incidence that killed Callahan.  I wish they stayed distant instead.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this book was still ok.  But it was just ok.  I like books that are less predictable, have more appealing characters, and aren’t about politics.  Though, I must say, I learned a lot from this book about how the government works and the daily life of a lawyer.

One comment on “The Pelican Brief Just Wasn’t Brief Enough (SPOILERS)

  1. Elan Mudrow
    September 9, 2014

    Nice review, well written!
    check out:

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This entry was posted on September 9, 2014 by in Book and tagged , , , , , , .
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