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Judges find trouble behind bars in latest Grisham novel

January 12, 2000
Web posted at: 5:26 PM EST (2226 GMT)

(CNN) -- There's trouble at Trumble.

Trumble, a minimum-security federal prison in John Grisham's newest book, is home to the usual characters -- drug dealers, bank robbers, swindlers, embezzlers -- and three former judges.

The judges, one from Texas, one from Mississippi and one from California, call themselves the brethren, and between writing briefs, handling cases for other inmates and dispensing jailhouse justice, the three are fine-tuning a mail scam that has money pouring in. Until, of course, their little scam goes awry and ensnares the wrong victim.

And that's the trouble.

"The Brethren" hits book stores and websites on February 1. And though it isn't yet available, the book, like many earlier Grisham titles, is making waves.

Susan Lee, an Internet marketing associate with Doubleday, said they are planning a first print run of roughly 2.8 million copies of "The Brethren." That compares with about 25,000 of "Tuesdays With Morrie," which went on to sell more than four million copies.

"It's a big event for the book world," said Mindi Mitchin, the community relations coordinator at a Borders Books and Music store in Atlanta. "We've heard a little rumbling about it. A few people have been looking for it."

That will all change as the release date nears. When any new Grisham title is released, "people are always looking for it," Mitchin said. But for authors of Grisham's stature (he's the top selling author of the last decade), even the release of an old title can have an immediate impact. For example, the paperback edition of Grisham's "The Testament" landed in stores three days after Christmas. Less than two weeks later it was number one atop the USA Today best-selling book list.

Grisham, a practicing attorney and former Mississippi state representative, finished his first novel, "A Time To Kill," in 1987. It only saw a modest first printing of 5,000 copies, but he had already begun his second novel, "The Firm," which became hot property, with the film rights going to Paramount Pictures for $600,000. "The Firm" was the best selling novel of 1991, and the movie, starring Tom Cruise, was a popular hit.

Grisham followed that up with "The Pelican Brief," which hit number one, and "The Client," which debuted at number one. His other titles, "The Chamber," "The Rainmaker," The Runaway Jury," "The Partner," and "The Street Lawyer" have all been best sellers, as was his first book when it was republished in both hardcover and paperback.

As for "The Brethren," it's already number one on the 100 Hot Books list. Kay Dangaard, director of press relations for, said presales for "The Brethren" are "on target" to equal the record-setting advance sale of J.K. Rowling's highly popular third book, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," which sold 60,000 advanced copies through

Lisa Lanspery, a corporate communications spokeswoman with, said they've already presold thousands of copies. She wouldn't offer specific numbers, but said, "we're seeing similar results to 'The Testament,' which was also presold. It's outdoing 'Hearts of Atlantis' by Stephen King."

"The Brethren" will be released in hardcover, hardcover large print, audio tape and audio CD.

Grisham ranks as top-selling author of decade
December 31, 1999
Books: "The Street Lawyer" by John Grisham
Mar. 6, 1998

John Grisham | The Official Web Site

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