Legal Eagle

THE PELICAN BRIEF

by John Grisham

Doubleday; 371 pages; $22.50

Our gloriously contrary society despises lawyers with openhearted loathing (to exactly the degree, in fact, that it loves lawsuits). Anyone who doubts this should consider John Grisham's 1991 thriller, The Firm. At a casual look, The Firm was a competent, but fairly routine, on-the-run-pursued-by-nasties page turner. But it stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for an entire year, something accomplished by nothing but Dr. Seuss books and the kind of self-help manual that advises you to Hate Your Way to a Firmer, More Youthful Figure. The explanation -- to...