The Pelican Brief Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Pelican Brief

   The book begins with the assassination of two Supreme Court Justices, by the names of Rosenberg and Jensen. The general populace can see no connection between the two, nor can they speculate as to why either would be killed--Rosenberg was rapidly approaching death by natural causes, and Jensen had never seemed to be too opinionated. The FBI is baffled; the Oval Office is in a state of chaotic stress. The list of suspects seems far too obvious, and proves to be filled with dead-ends. However, Tulane law student Darby Shaw begins an investigation of her own--stirring up whirlpool of suspense and terror.
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Darby researches Rosenberg and Jensen's court records, searching for a similarity in beliefs, something that would give someone a cause to kill them both. Once she has found her answer, she composes a brief, explaining the identity of the man who hired the assassin, his motive, and his position. She conjectures that it was Victor Mattiece, a man who had an upcoming appeal to regain oil-drilling land that had formerly been protected due to the endangered brown pelicans on the territory. Jensen and Rosenberg, both staunch environmentalists, would have decreased his chances of winning the appeal had they stayed on the Supreme Court. Being friendly with the president, Mattiece knew that he would appoint new justices that would rule more in his favor. Darby gives a copy of what she names "The Pelican Brief" to Thomas Callahan, her lover and Constitutional Law professor. After he reads it, he passes a copy to his friend Gavin Verheek, a lawyer with the FBI. Verheek then passes it on to FBI director Voyles, who, in turn, passes it on to the president and vice president. Shortly after, a bomb, intended for Darby, is placed on Callahan's car while the two are in a restaurant. Darby does not enter the car, telling Thomas that she will walk home due to his lack of sobriety. Immediatley after starting the car, it explodes, killing Callahan instantly. After going on the run, Darby speaks with Verheek, arranging to meet him for FBI protection. He too, is killed, by the notorious assassin Khamel (hired by Mattiece).
After running and hiding for days, Darby contacts Gray Grantham of the Washington Post, and together, they strive to expose Mattiece--and save their own lives.

The review of this Book prepared by Mary Dwyer

One night, Justice Rosenberg, the most liberal of the supreme court, and Justice Jensen, the most conservative, are killed. Why would someone kill the most liberal and the most conservative. It couldn't have been political. The FBI have no clues. Darby Shaw, a law student at Tulane, writes a brief. She figures out a connection betweent the two judges. Her brief is a very crazy idea, but it is all they have. She almost gets killed in a car bomb. Somebody found out about her brief. She contacts a reporter at the Washington Post. She tells him about her brief. He thinks that it could be the biggest story since Watergate. They run together, trying not to get killed.
The review of this Book prepared by Geoff Pears

Darby Shaw wrote a brief that contained facts about two of the Supreme Court Justices being killed. The governement thinks she knows too much; they are out to kill her to destroy any evidence.
The review of this Book prepared by Rebecca

A law student wrote a brief explaining her theory about how a Supreme Court Justice was murdered. It got into the wrong hands and whoever killed the Justice was after Darby. Her objective--who and why?
The review of this Book prepared by Amarjot Biring

Chapter Analysis of The Pelican Brief

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 30%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   very upbeat Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999 Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes Cloak & Dagger Plotlets:    -   investigating murder of politician(s) Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Legal Thriller    -   Yes Legal Plotlets    -   investigating murder of lawyer(s)    -   finding out whether someone is really guilty

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York    -   Washington D.C.    -   New Orleans

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   very gorey descriptions deaths/dead bodies Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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