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    It only took one novel to get me hooked on John Grisham. That was The Testament, which I read back in 2015. Gosh, was it that long ago? That was when I discovered that the Alliance, Ohio, Goodwill Store had oodles and gobs of Grisham's books, so I keep a file card in my purse with the ones I own, and over these years have collected at least 30 more—I haven't counted recently. I've enjoyed every one I've read so far. But this one was by far the best. It was his third novel published in 1992, and like so many of his books, was made into a major motion picture, this one starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. I own it on an old VHS tape, but have no means to play it, so I found it online for free. Please note: I NEVER pay to watch or read anything online, and have discovered over the years that just about anything can be found for free. Perhaps posted unethically, and maybe a little iffy, so one must make a choice. I got Malwarebytes warnings for this one for adware, I believe it was, but I have ad blockers on my browsers, and ran a scan during and after I watched it. You can make the decision for yourself, but here is the link to the free movie. It is well-worth watching, so I will begin by saying just a bit about the movie, then return to the novel.
    Here is a quote from Wikipedia about Grisham. And I want to add that he is the only living author that has their own Index Page in my Cross Reference/Resource files, since most authors I read are long gone. There will be more, but Grisham is the first.

   John Ray Grisham Jr., born February 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Arkansas is an American novelist and lawyer known for his popular legal thrillers. According to the American Academy of Achievement, Grisham has written 28 consecutive number-one fiction bestsellers, and his books have sold 300 million copies worldwide. Along with Tom Clancy and J. K. Rowling, Grisham is one of only three authors to have sold two million copies on a first printing.

    First, I am often disappointed that too many elements of a book are changed in the movie version, even names of the characters, which drives me crazy, because I can't figure out why. Not here, though. Not only were the names kept as Grisham wrote them, most of the story followed very closely to the novel, with just a few major exceptions that had no negative effect on the story. Whoever did the casting for the movie should have won an award. Gosh, I recognized the characters. They all looked like who they were in the book! The one teeny-tiny exception is that in the novel, Gray Grantham is not Black, but, jeez, maybe he should have been. What makes the movie so compelling is this electric energy between Roberts and Washington. Add to the fact that she is so stunningly gorgeous, and he is so handsome and classy and manly. He actually played the role perhaps even better than Grisham wrote it. He was the epitome of a gentleman, and the one person Darby could trust beyond any doubts. And just watching the two of them forming this bond is fascinating. She is being pursued by killers—lots of them—and the only person she ends up trusting is the newspaper reporter, Grantham. She doesn't trust the government because they are involved, nor does she trust the FBI or CIA, which she actually should have. We don't perhaps understand why she trusts Grantham so much in the book, but on screen, it makes perfect sense, and as I said, I believe it is because of the way Washington played his part. In any case, it all works! The movie ends one chapter earlier than the book, which has the two developing a romantic relationship, but the movie does imply it. In any case, both the novel and the movie are serious seat-gripping thrillers. I recommend reading the book first. You will fly through it.
    And now on to the novel. As in keeping with my regular practice, since it is a mystery with lots of surprise elements, I will not tell you the whole story, but just provide the basics. The story begins with a crowd of riotous people outside, "celebrating" the opening day of the new term on the first Monday in October. That would be the Supreme Court. A half-alive Justice Abraham Rosenberg, who at ninety-one is the most hated justice by most people, and yet loved by many. He always voted for the environment, the Blacks, gays, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, criminals, women and the poor and downtrodden. His ideology was "Government over Business; The Individual over Government; The Environment over Everything." Bit of a liberal, eh? But he has suffered a stroke, is paralyzed and in a wheel-chair, and half-deaf. He sleeps most of the time, but won't step down. There have been abortion clinic bombings and threats against the justices, with Rosenberg being number one on the list. The FBI is now heavily guarding all the justices, but Rosenberg won't cooperate, and neither will the youthful Jensen. He is gay, but that isn't known to most people, and frequents gay porn theaters, which is why he does not want to be surveilled. He also tends to be liberal, although he changes sides frequently. But the one issue he is consistent about is the environment, giving him that one ideal that sets him apart along with Rosenberg.
    We then jump to Tulane University in New Orleans. Thomas Callahan teaches the most hated course in Law School, which is constitutional law. Though age forty-five, he is very popular with the students because he is cool, and actually makes this class interesting. He would never schedule a class before 11 a.m., because he drinks too much and sleeps in. He is known for his relationships with female students. He asks a question that no one can answer because they did not do the research. In walks, Darby Shaw, late. She is not only gorgeous, but knows the answers to every question because she is a serious law student and very intelligent. She is also Callahan's lover, but this time, he's hooked on just one woman.
    I dunno. I didn't find too much likable about him, maybe because I am so repulsed by drinking. But he has one good point, and that is his hero worship of Rosenberg. The question he has asked the class is about Rosenberg's dissent in a certain case, and Darby is the only one who read it and can answer the question. Callahan further asks why Rosenberg was sympathetic. Sallinger answers that Rosenberg loves dope pushers. "Dope pushers, child fondlers, gunrunners, terrorists. Rosenberg admires these people. They are his weak and abused children, so he must protect them."
    So we now have an idea on the general public opinion of Rosenberg. We then jump to a night on a deserted dock. A man dressed as an old farmer awaits a small watercraft on the pier. The correct passwords are exchanged. "Luke" isn't allowed to look at the man, and he prefers not to because the less known, the better. The man is the infamous Khamel, an international killer and terrorist, wanted in nine countries. No one knows what he looks like—a master of disguise who can speak numerous languages fluently.

   In the guarded whispers of his invisible brotherhood, Luke had often heard of Khamel, a man of many names and faces and languages, an assassin who struck quickly and left no trail, a fastidious killer who roamed the world but could never be found.

    In fact, he reminded me very much of "The Jackal" in Frederick Forsyth's book, The Day of the Jackal. And I have to say that he was the one person that didn't look like I thought he would, in the movie. He was WAY too good looking! But, in any case, he goes to his hotel and knocks on a door. He and "Mr. Sneller" exchange passwords and an envelope is passed under the door. Khamel then goes to his room and phones Sneller about their financial and other arrangements.
    The killings are easy. Since only Rosenberg's male nurse guards him and the FBI is ordered to stay at a distance, and only one cop is allowed to briefly inspect the house, Khamel is already hiding inside, so the silent shootings of both Rosenberg and his nurse, Frederic, are both soon done. When Ferguson enters upon being called, unknowingly by Khamel, he is killed, too. Dressed in jogging attire, Khamel then escapes to the porn theater which is dark and the men there are either fondling each other or glued to the screen. A rope quickly and quietly snaps the neck of Jensen, and Khamel leaves unnoticed.
    We next meet "The President" and the man who actually runs the President, Fletcher Coal, his Chief of Staff. As expected, he was very good-looking in the film, but not bald—an immaculate workaholic who only drinks water and knows everything about everything and always has a solution for little problems. He and the President are almost filled with glee over the good fortune they have just discovered. Now, two more Supreme Court justices can be appointed during their conservative Republican term, just in case the President does not get reelected. Coal is determined he will, however, and advises him to do a press conference in a sweater—a brown cardigan and white shirt—to have that "grandfather" look.

   Coal was smiling. His perfect white teeth and bald head were shining. Only thirty-seven, he was the boy wonder who four years earlier had rescued a failing campaign and placed his boss in the White House. He was a guileful manipulator and a nasty henchman who had cut and clawed his way through the inner circle until he was now second in command. Many viewed him as the real boss. The mere mention of his name terrified lowly staffers.

    He believes this is "the perfect crisis."

   "Not much doubt about it now. This is the perfect crisis Mr. President. Think of it. We didn't create it. It's not our fault. No one can blame us. And the nation will be shocked into some degree of solidarity. It's rally around the leader time. It's just great. No downside."

    Hmm, well, that proves to be false and it is one lone law student that stumbles upon the truth, a truth that will upend everyone's life that was involved. Meanwhile, Denton Voyles from the FBI and Bob Gminski, CIA, meet with the President and Coal, whom they hate. Back in New Orleans, Thomas Callahan is crushed that his hero has been assassinated. He cancels classes and stays drunk, and to make matters worse, Darby deserts him. She is spending days researching pending cases that will or might make it to the Supreme Court, and anything that could link Rosenberg to Jensen. She puts it all together in a brief, but then thinks it is such a long-shot, she discards it.
    Callahan talks to his best friend, Gavin Verheek, a lawyer for the FBI. They set up a meeting because Callahan will be in Washington for a con law conference. Frustrated and hurt at Darby for ignoring him, he finally shows up at her apartment. She tells him of her research, and timidly mentions the brief she wrote, then discarded. He takes it, reads it, and it goes to Washington with him. He gives it to Verheek, and suddenly everybody who is investigating the assassinations knows about what is now called The Pelican Brief. I don't want to give away details, but I will say that this is not just a code name. It is called that because it involves a legal battle between environmentalists who want to protect land in Louisiana that is being decimated by a wealthy owner of numerous oil companies and related businesses who are doing the decimating. It involves the Brown Pelican, which nests in that area, and at the time was an endangered species, but apparently no longer is. But of course every animal and plant on the planet actually is endangered because of all the toxic heavy metals being sprayed on us by military tankers under the guise of "climate engineering."
    Meanwhile a man who calls himself "Garcia" contacts Gray Grantham of the Post, and says he has information. He calls from a pay phone and is clearly afraid. Grantham does not know about the brief, and neither does the President. Yet. But he and Coal soon find out.
    Suddenly the President and Coal are not quite as filled with glee, and damage control is now a priority. The President tells Voyles to back off the investigation concerning the brief, which now puts him in the position of being accused of obstruction of justice. It is shortly after that, that Callahan and Darby are at a restaurant where he gets sickeningly drunk. She gets him to leave, and tries to get his keys, but he won't hand them over. She says she will walk home, and he leaves her. He is in the parking lot, and she walks across the road. As Callahan tries to start the car, it explodes. Darby runs to it, then it really explodes again, jolting her into a car where she seriously bumps her head and goes into shock. A cop calling himself Rupert and another one in cowboy boots puts her in a car. Then the real cops show up. She is barely conscious and has trouble unlocking the door. There is no New Orleans cop named Rupert, and the tags on the car are fake. The real cop takes her to a crowded hospital, then goes to move the car, and she, now convinced her head is not cracked, goes on the run. That explosion was meant for her. She is beginning to get the idea that her little brief is correct. She has her best friend check her apartment, only to find her computer was tampered with, and her data stolen. She spends the rest of the novel dodging killers, while other people become victims. It isn't until she meets with Gray Grantham that she feels she has a true friend, protector and partner in discovering the whole truth and getting it out before the public in the newspaper. From that point on, I guarantee, you will fly through the pages.
    I have to say that this novel was both entertaining and disturbing. As with so many other writers of "serious" fiction, Grisham has a subtle sense of dark humor which people might miss. I remember reading reviews of Michael Crichton's books by people who didn't "get it" when he wrote something funny. Dan Brown's books are also filled with that same variety of humor. Grisham constantly pokes fun at politicians and especially lawyers, race, women, you name it—everything that people make so seriously controversial, Grisham finds a way to make funny. Here, the President is so utterly old-fashioned conservative, that he almost sounds like . . . no, I won't say his name. Here is a quote when he and Coal are picking names for possible Supreme Court nominees, after they scrapped the first list, which was all conservative white men. Now, they must choose people who might vote as Rosenberg and Jensen would, in order to take away the possible perception people might have that they are linked to the murders.

   "What kind of name is Siler-Spence? I mean, what's wrong with these women who use hyphens? What if her name was Skowinski, and she married a guy named Levondowski? Would her little liberated soul insist she go through life as F. Gwendolyn Skowinski-Levondowski? Give me a break. I'll never appoint a woman with a hyphen."
   "You already have."
   "Kay Jones-Roddy, ambassador to Brazil."
   "Then call her home and fire her."

    Those chuckles between the terror make reading even more enjoyable. But the disturbing part is this: I, most of the time now, feel that same sense of trying to escape those who are aiming to kill me. Though still too few are aware of it, we are potential victims of engineered, orchestrated weather, known as "weather warfare," of killer vaccines attempted to be forced on us, of food that is NOT SAFE, of threats, daily, by armed killers walking into our schools, workplaces and public buildings. Like Darby, I just want to escape somewhere where these criminal psychopaths, many masquerading as public servants, doctors, and others in positions where they should be able to be trusted can no longer find me. Like Darby, I just want peace. Reading this novel and watching the movie has changed something deeply in my life.
    I cannot recommend highly enough to both read the book then watch the movie. Here is the Wikipedia page for the book, for the movie, and the IMDb.


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