"The Pelican Brief" is a political thriller from John Grisham. It was published by "Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. / New York" in 1992.
In a cold october night two judges of the highest law-court are killed. A young law-student writes a file about her theory of the murders. But she doesn´t know how dangerous this file is for everybody who read it. So she also has to run for her life.
The story takes place in New Orleans, Washington and New York.
Darby Shaw: She is the young law-student who writes the Pelican brief after the murders. She is a very clever person who has to survive a lot of deadly traps.
Gray Grantham: He is a famous reporter who works for the Washington Post. He helps Darby to solve the case.
Fletcher Coal: He is the personal assistant of the president. He tries to stop Darby and Gray.
Denton Voyles: He is the FBI-president.
Gavin Verheek: He is a lawyer who works for the FBI and he is a friend of Thomas Callahan.
Thomas Callahan: He is a law-professor at the University of Tulane. He has an affair with Darby.
Khamel: He is the profi-killer who assassinates the judges and Verheek.
Events / Plot:
In a cold october night the two famous judges Rosenberg and Jensen are killed. The police doesn`t know anything about the murderer.
Thomas Callahan, a law-professor, can´t believe it. He had worked for Rosenberg a few years ago. He is very shocked about the killings. His girlfriend Darby Shaw, a law-student, is very interested in the case. She decides to start a file about the two mysterious murders. She works a whole week for the file but then she gives it up, because she thinks that her theory is impossible. But Callahan likes it and gives the file to his old friend Gavin Verheek who works as a lawyer for the FBI. Gavin decides to give it to Denton Voyles, the FBI-president. Voyles decides to investigate into the theory. He informs the White House about the file. Fletcher Coal, the personal assistant of the president of the United States, doesn´t like Voyles´ plan because the president is also mentioned in the file. He suggests that the president should stop Voyles. One day later the president orders Voyles to stop his investigations.
Meanwhile Gray Grantham, a reporter from the Washington Post, gets a call from a man who knows anything about the assassinations but he doesn´t want to say his real name. He suggests Gray to call him "Garcia" and he wants to meet Gray after a second call. Gray finds out the call-box where Garcia had called him and decides to wait there to take a photo of him. Then they want to meet each other, but a short time before that Garcia backs out. He doesn´t want to get his family in danger. Gray begins to search for him.
After a dinner in a restaurant Thomas Callahan is drunk. Darby decides to walk home because she doesn´t want to drive with Thomas. Suddenly the car explodes and Thomas is dead. Darby is very shocked, she can´t believe it. Who could have done it?
But at home she understands: Her file is responsible for it . She asks Gavin Verheek about it and tells him about the explosion. Gavin is very concerned and wants to meet Darby, but he is killed by Khamel, the murderer of Rosenberg and Jensen. He has recorded the phone call between Darby and Gavin and so he wants to meet and kill her. In the phone call Darby ordered Gavin to wear a red cap as a marking. So Khamel learns to speak like Gavin and meets Darby. But a short time later he is killed by an unknown man. Darby doesn´t know what she should do but then she decides to call Gray Grantham. Gray is a little bit sceptical about Darby but he decides to meet her in New York. There she tells him her theory:
A few years ago an oil company discovered a big oil resource in Louisiana. The company belonged to Victor Mattiece, a rich man. He wanted to get a permission for his company to search for the oil. So he bribed some judges to get the permission without any problems but then a law-office tried to stop him. They told the judge, that the oil-resource was in the near of a wildlife resource where the "brown Louisiana Pelican" lives.
So the court decides that the case should be discussed at the highest law-court in the USA. Rosenberg and Jensen always wanted to save nature so they could be a big problem for Victor Mattiece when the trial starts again. So he ordered a profi-killer to assassinate them. Victore Mattiece also sponsered the election campaign of the president so it would also be bad for the president of the United States if Mattiece was guilty of a crime.
Gray and Darby decide to search for Garcia in one of the Washington law-offices which work for Mattiece. There Darby gets a bad message:Garcia was shot by a street robber. But Gray and Darby know that it was the work of Mattiece. His real name was Curtis Morgan. They visit Morgan´s wife. She gives Gray a key for a safe-deposit box. There Darby and Gray find a video tape and a document which is signed by C. Morgan. They drive as quickly as they can to the Washington Post office. There they watch the video tape with Gray´s chief-editor. On the tape Morgan speaks about a message which his firm, White and Blazevich, sent to Victor Mattiece. A copy of the message is also enclosed to the document. In the message White and Blazevich tells Mattiece that the judges are not longer a problem.
Gray and Darby write an article which proves that Victor Mattiece is responsible for the murders of the two judges. Then they inform the FBI, the White House, and White&Blazevich. Some hours later Fletcher Coal resigns his job. FBI-president Denton Voyles tells Darby about Khamel and the unknown man who killed him (a profi-killer from the CIA who wanted to protect her). Then he helps her to get out of the United States because she wants to rest after her dangerous adventure.
I like this book very much because it is very exciting to read it. John Grisham fascinates his readers with a gripping style.
I think the author wants to show how dangerous some pieces of paper can be and that also a president is sometimes involved in a crime. Nobody is perfect !