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The Broker

by John Grisham
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Publishing date: 15/03/2005
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780385510462
  • ISBN: 0385510462


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 that Backman's time spent in Bologna is a bit too leisurely--readers join him on an almost cinematic tour through the Italian town, complete with language and history lessons. Impatient readers will be happy to know that the final half of the novel is classic Grisham--a fast-paced, thrilling cat and mouse chase pitting Backman against the numerous agencies that want him dead--as the broker makes a move to take back his life. --Daphne Durham

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  • Grisham: The Books

    • A Time to Kill, 1989
    • The Firm, 1991
    • The Pelican Brief, 1992
    • The Client, 1993
    • The Chamber, 1994
    • The Rainmaker, 1995
    • The Runaway Jury, 1996
    • The Partner, 1997
    • The Street Lawyer, 1998
    • The Testament, 1999
    • The Brethren, 2000
    • A Painted House, 2001
    • Skipping Christmas, 2001
    • The Summons, 2002
    • The King of Torts, 2003
    • Bleachers, 2003
    • The Last Juror, 2004
    • The Broker, 2005

    Essential Grisham
    Amazon Editor Favorites

    A Time to Kill

    The Firm

    A Painted House

    The Client

    The Rainmaker

    The Pelican Brief

    Bestselling Grisham
    Amazon Customer Favorites

    The Last Juror

    Skipping Christmas


    The Testament

    The Partner

    The King of Torts

    If You Like Grisham, You'll Love...

    • John Lescroart
    • Richard North Patterson
    • David Baldacci
    • Lisa Scottoline
    • Robert Crais
    • Michael Crichton
    • Harlan Coben
    • Dennis Lehane
    • Ken Follett

    Best Grisham Books on DVD

    A Time to Kill

    The Pelican Brief

    The Client

    The Firm

    The Rainmaker

    The Chamber

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    • I could not wait to finish this one
      From Amazon

      Grisham has such a way of creating believable, 3 dimensional characters and telling us about their lives and surroundings. Joel is not the most likable guy, but he is involved in an interesting tale. And how can you beat Italy as a setting? I could not wait to finish this one - and it only took me 2 days to do so.

    • Zero Stars Would Be Appropriate
      From Amazon

      I finally gave up on this book on page 151. If you are into learning how to read restaurant menus in Italian or if you need something to read so you can quickly fall asleep then this is the book for you. Grisham builds absolutely zero empathy for the protagonist and the cast of characters surrounding him are sooooo dull. The amount of print devoted to learning the Italian language is just God-awful incredible. I do not know why or how Grisham could write such drivel, English or Italian. Take the money you would spend on this book and go to Olive Garden for dinner--you will be spending your time and money far more wisely and the menu will be in English.

    • Did he write this book for the travel tax deduction?
      From Amazon

      Reading John Grisham is kind of a hit or miss experience. This book is more of a "miss" than a "hit." I'll not go into the plot, what there is of it, or character development, what there is of it, and just say that it reads as if Grisham spent an extended holiday in Tuscany and knocked out this book so he could write it off as a tax deduction. As a fan of Tuscany, and the charming city of Bologna in particular, I enjoyed his description of the area and its history. But the story lacked drive, a credible plot and a logical conclusion. Example: Part of the storyline is about satelites secretly launched into space by some nebulous organization (never really described credibly). How were they launched secretly? Well, a giant forest fire was intentionally started so that the smoke and flames would "hide" the rocket launch. Uh, excuse me, but doesn't our military have "spy in the sky" satelites with the capability of seeing a jihadist light up a cigarette? Am I suppose to suspend my belief so much that I would believe a forest fire covering up rocket launches? Example: You really never get a good explanation of why everyone is after Backman, why he was put in jail, why he was released, or why he is put into a sort of Witness Protection Plan with the end goal of having him killed. Example: Backman isn't a nice person at the beginning of the book. His character reminded me of Gordon Gecko from Wall Street. So you would expect some enlightenment and redemption as the book draws to a conclusion. But it never really happens. I was left thinking that he only learned a little from his experience and would likely return to his former narcissistic, bullying, quasi-criminal, insensitive self. Not a very attractive protagonist. Example: Backman's brother is introduced as a character who helps him escape and return to the U.S. (through a conveniently ignorant and inept Swiss banker). Then the character, whose life is put in danger, is just left hanging. No follow-up at all. Example: Backman's love interest and his involvement with her is sketchy at best. First, she is married to a dying husband---not a good dynamic for a love relationship. They never really interact (sexually or otherwise). The character development is so thin that you can only surmise that Backman is only interested in her because he has been in solitary confinement for several years. So, his implied return to be with her at the end of the book seems farfetched. Example: If you have to read the ending several times to figure it out, something isn't working. I'm a voracious reader and a writer and an educated person---and I couldn't figure out the ending after reading it three times. For me it was just a throwaway ending. Its as if Grisham couldn't figure out a good ending---but he wanted to get the damn thing in print---so he just wrote something confusing and let it go at that, hoping no one would care all that much. Well, I do. Endings are important. Many authors start a book with the ending already in place. What I don't understand is why a writer of Grisham's stature can't see (and correct) flaws in the book's structure like these---or why his editors can't suggest changes and corrections (isn't that what they are paid to do?). Why can't he give the manuscript to a few friends who will give honest feedback. Do something to avoid three-star reviews when you're supposed to be a five-star author. Grisham could have corrected these flaws. And with a few dozen more pages he could have developed real, believable characters. Most readers are more than willing to read a longer, but better, book. It suggests lazy, sloppy writing---certainly not something you want to be known for if writing is your only career. I usually like Grisham's writing, but I don't recommend this book.

    • Slow & boring
      From Amazon

      I'm relatively new to Grisham's work, but even I could tell that this book was not up to his standards. The story follows Joel Backman, a high-powered broker who gets himself into a lot of trouble and is sent to a federal prison to be kept in solitary confinement. What that trouble is exactly we don't find out until about halfway through the book. When we are first introduced to Backman, he is described in such terms that make you glad he got caught. Surely, he is the bad guy in the book, right? As events unfold so painfully slowly, I thought perhaps that Backman would turn out not to be too bad and perhaps he was framed or something. Nope. He did everything and got everything he deserved. But yet by the end of the book, I got that feeling that I was supposed to like him, despite being the sleazeball that he is/was. The story is set in Italy where the U.S. government has decided to hide Backman until they deem an appropriate time to leak his whereabouts to foreign nations in order to see who kills him first. I thought perhaps this was going to turn into a story of how Backman kept having to hide from either the U.S. government or foreign governments. Instead, way too much of the book is spent on Backman learning Italian or eating some lovely Italian delicacy or visiting some wonderful Italian architecture. The pace does pick up when the time actually comes for Backman to run, but even that doesn't make up for the rest of the book. The professional, government-paid assassins sent to whack him are seemingly a side note, even though the whole premise of the book is that Backman is hiding from them and is supposed to be on the run. It's evident, as Grisham points out in his author's note, that he greatly admires the Italian culture. I'm sure quite a bit of research went into describing the various Italian cultural tidbits. But reading how to greet one another in Italian over and over again is not the stuff a person usually wants to read in a Grisham book. Overall, it was slow and disappointing.

    • A Love Letter to Bologna, Italy
      From Amazon

      With over 600 reviews already posted on Amazon I'll not get into details about this book. Others have covered it very well. Personally, I enjoyed reading it as a bit of entertainment and diversion with a heavy helping of Bologna Tourism Bureau thrown in. The book moves along at a decent pace, neither too fast nor mind numbingly slow. I enjoyed reading it all the way through to the end, which is more than I can say of a lot of books.

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