John Grisham is a graduate of Mississippi State University and Ole Miss Law School who gave up his law practice to write full-time. Accumulating experience in a large lawyer firm and in Court, he was able to combine his knowledge and imagination to write many appreciated books on law. The Pelican Brief is one of Grisham's biggest successes featuring intrigue and suspense. The main character of the novel is Darby Shaw, a law student, who solves the murders of two Supreme Court justices. She has to stay alive long enough to expose the real truth in the Pelican Brief, in other words, she is caught between justice and survival.
Miss Shaw has a high spirit of justice and her conscience does not allow holding inside her important information regarding the judges' deaths. First, as a young law student, she feels responsible to herself to give an explanation of the unexpected event-the two murders.
She is neglecting the class work for a week to write a brief based on her own research, describing a theory that she has on the Rosenberg and Jensen case. After she realizes that her theory is true and she is wanted dead by whoever did the other killings, even she was scared for her life, Darby calls a reporter from The Washington Post, Gray Grantham, because she wanted to reveal the real truth, so that justice can be made. Although Darby had the opportunity to get out of the country and escape from the Mattiece's chase, having Gray's help and support, she chooses to continue the research to find enough evidence to backup a newspaper story based on the theory from the Pelican Brief.
The main character also has a remarkable survival instinct and the ability to face difficult situation with cold blood. She witnesses how Thomas Callahan, her teacher and lover, gets killed in a car explosion triggered by a bomb that was meant for her too. But even she is shocked at the moment, she realizes fast she is in a great danger so she starts staying in hotel rooms and changing her look; she can not afford to think too much of what happened; she has to run and hide to stay alive. As she suspected, Darby finds out that someone was to her place and took away everything containing information on the brief. After Darby meets Khamel, believing he is Gavin Verheek, she sees him getting shot in the face just a few meters near her. Again, knowing that she is being followed, she leaves the crime scene and tries to lose her track. She feels she is not safe anywhere, so she is moving to different cities, hanging in small bars; she is very caucus because she sees that it's very hard to lose her track. Gray admits in front of his friend that Darby dazzled him; she made him rant a car, go into the opposite direction then take two cabs to meet her.
Darby is spontaneous and innovative when she is trying to lose the people who follow her as well when she is trying to obtain information need for her research. One of Mattiece's men, Stump, was chasing her and he almost got her, but she had the luck to be near the Saints football team, so she start screaming for help saying that Stump wants to rape her. The players felt that they need to help this poor woman and they beat up the man who was following her. When she and Gray were looking for Curtis Morgan (Garcia), Darby, using her acting skills, first goes to Georgetown law school and passes as a reporter form the Post to talk to the students that worked at the suspected lawyer firm. Then she goes to this firm, White and Blazevich, pretending she is a client, to get information about Morgan, but she finds out that he was dead. Having the key from his wife, Darby has to get to Morgan's lockbox, so she is acting as she were his wife and finds evidence to sustain the story.
With a brilliant mind and a lot of courage this top law student manage to expose, with Grantham's help, a conspiracy that is considered to be the biggest cover-up since Watergate. Darby Shaw is a dynamic character, and this experience has quite an impact on her because she is thinking not to become a lawyer anymore; she needs a well-deserved vacation. Now, that everything is over she has time to think about what happened to her in the last couple of weeks and she chooses to spend her time with Gray. She tried her best confronting justice and survival and it is questionable what other people would do in her place?