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The Broker

A book by John Grisham.

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The (Pawn) Broker

  • Jan 17, 2005
  • by
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+3
Joel Backman, ex-lobbyist and Washington power broker doing time in a Federal prison is pardoned after only six years of a twenty-year sentence by a one-term president at the behest of the CIA, hours before the inauguration of the new president. The theory is that many influential people want Backman dead (the Saudi's, the Israeli's, the Chinese, the Russian's...), that eventually one of them will take him out and the CIA will be privy to some long sought after information. Thus, the ex-power broker becomes a pawn for the government and the chase is on.

The Agency drops Backman into Bologna, Italy, an entirely different culture where he must meld into the general population. This is what Grisham does best, establish a protagonist with the vast resources of power stacked against him, outwitting and, hopefully, outlasting. As in his first novel, the Firm, though the plot differs substantially, the theme is familiar, the underdog vs. the heavy lifters.

In a vastly changed world of spy satellites and sophisticated electronics, each nation's gain can change the face of history. When Backman was brokering the satellite network deal that got him into trouble with the Federal government, he made some powerful enemies, not the least of which are in his own government, engaged in a never-ending technology race and looking for an edge. Now Backman is challenged to use his considerable resourcefulness, this time to keep himself alive.

While not as tautly conceived as The Firm, Grisham inserts a lot of disparate details into the plot, leaving some unresolved questions, but he concentrates on Backman and his natural instincts toward survival, especially once his whereabouts is leaked to the interested parties. Once Backman is the focus of every assassination network, he needs more than luck to pull this one off. Whatever is lacking in plot depth, there is ample praise for the city's architecture, gourmet dishes and cosmopolitan citizens to pique the curiosity of travelers and epicures alike. Luan Gaines/2005.

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More The Broker reviews
review by . October 02, 2010
With technology stolen from two US defense contractors, a cutting edge satellite surveillance system dubbed Neptune was secretly built and launched under the very nose of the CIA and the rest of the world's elite spy communities - Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, England and China. Nobody even knew of the system's top secret existence (let alone who was operating it) until two brilliant Pakistani computer wizards unwittingly hacked into the system and parlayed that illicit entry into an astonishing …
Quick Tip by . October 02, 2010
More than just an enjoyable spy vs spy thriller with the legal sub-text for which Grisham is so well known. As difficult as this might be to believe, it is also a charming romance and a well done travelogue on the city of Bologna. This odd juxtaposition of styles may not work for everybody but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Quick Tip by . September 30, 2010
A powerful thriller that says a great deal about the power and misuse of power in the CIA combined, as difficult as this might be to believe, with a rather charming travelogue of the city of Bologna! Go figure!
review by . September 15, 2008
The Broker
1. Choose a European country for your next vacation. Pick a nice little town with a rich history, nice people and great food.     2. Throw a dart at the country map, with your eyes open, as many times as it takes to hit the aforementioned town.     3. Buy a Michelin Guide and use it as material for 90% of the book you're going to write.     4. Go and see for yourself if the guide is accurate - take your time, avoid the mistake of eating …
review by . April 01, 2005
Fast-paced, intriguing thriller that is hard to put down!! At the center of the tale is of course a wayward lawyer; in this case, it's Joel Backman--a Washington lobbyist whose greed for power, money and women is legendary. Backman gets his hands on a computer software written by a few brilliant young men that is able to control spy satellites that are orbiting the earth--satellites whose existence to this point had been completely unknown. When Backman decides to represent his clients in their …
review by . June 01, 2005
It used to be that I really looked forward to a new Grisham novel. Action-packed legal thriller, life and death situations, etc. But then after a few books, the writing seemed to get somewhat uneven and I didn't quite know what I'd get each time I started a new one. John Grisham's latest, The Broker, ended up being one of his better ones of late. I really enjoyed it.    Joel Backman, aka The Broker, was a high-powered player in the Washington scene until he took the fall for …
review by . February 22, 2005
I've found John Grisham to be uneven. Sometimes he is a fun read; sometimes I just give up and move on.     In "The Broker," Grisham is near the top of his form.     In a tale filled with sleazy characters, Joel Backman is no better or worse than the President of the United States who, at the urging of his corrupt advisor, pardons Backman. Backman is a guest of the government, sitting in solitary with years to run on his sentence. Suddenly he is offered a …
About the reviewer
Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #109
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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Wiki

Before he was sent to federal prison for treason (among other things), Joel Backman was an extremely powerful man. Known as "the broker," Backman was a high roller--a lawyer making $10 million a year who could "open any door in Washington." That is, until he tried to broker a deal selling access to the world's most powerful satellite surveillance system to the highest bidder. When caught, Backman accepted prison as the one option that would keep him safe and alive, since the interested parties (the Israelis, the Saudis, the Russians, and the Chinese) were all itching to get their hands on his secrets at any cost. Little does he know that his own government has designs on accessing that information--or at least letting it die with him. Now, six years after his incarceration, the director of the CIA convinces a lame duck president to pardon Backman, and the broker becomes a free man--and an open target.

The Broker marries the best of John Grisham's many talents--his ability to immerse himself in the culture of small town life (in this case, Bologna, Italy), and his uncanny mastery of the chase. The first half of the book focuses on Backman's transformation from infamous power broker to helpless victim in his own game. Upon his release from prison, Backman is taken into "protective custody" and whisked off to Italy where he is assigned a new identity, and a tutor to help him blend in. Sure he is on the run, but some readers may feel ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0385510454
ISBN-13: 978-0385510455
Author: John Grisham
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Doubleday
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"The (Pawn) Broker"
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