The Broker by John Grisham

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The Broker by John Grisham

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: An outgoing President, devious and unstoppable Federal agencies, government assassins from every corner of the globe and a man who knew too much. It's not up to his usual standards, but this is still a well-written Grisham tale told with distinction and aplomb.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: September 2005
Publisher: Arrow
ISBN: 978-0099457169

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In the closing hours of an unremarkable term in office, Arthur Morgan grants a divisive presidential pardon to Joel Backman; Washington's most notorious power-broker.

Six years previously, Backman was at the epicentre of a scandal that rocked political Washington to its foundations: Backman had managed to obtain secret files and information compromising the world's most high-tech satellite surveillance system, and if he was able to do it, wasn't it highly possible that same information could be obtained by anyone who cared to look?

The outgoing President Morgan is persuaded by the CIA, with the application of quite colossal coercion, and certainly against his better judgment, to release Backman by way of presidential pardon in a bid to find out what he really knows.

And to find out exactly who might prefer it if Backman were dead.

So newly pardoned and living under a false name with a fresh identity and a new home in Italy, Backman begins to settle into his unfamiliar life. He quite quickly has to become someone else, to learn Italian so that he can blend in and above all, leave his old life as Joel Backman far behind him. He does not reckon on falling in love under very unlikely circumstances with the enigmatic, mysterious and beautifully fragile Francesca. Nor does he reckon on the CIA leaking his whereabouts to certain countries' Government agencies. It does not take long for the assassins to come out of the woodwork.

The Broker is another book that I read on holiday, so I read it pretty much without stopping and in places it honestly had that Grisham trademark unputdownability. I am sure most of you will agree (and if you are reading this review, you clearly must enjoy a Grisham blockbuster) that this author has a talent for taking something as tangible and interesting as fog - the law - and weaving a story around it that is both comprehensible and mesmerising at once. I always think that John Grisham books are as full of "technicals" as a Dyson manual but that somehow he makes magic and a generally a story of The Right and The Just appears in the midst of the hose length measurements and cylinder capacities.

It's not that Grisham has failed to make that magic in The Broker, it's just that in most other parts of the tale, it really was little more than a Dorling Kindersley guide to Bologna, which although surprisingly lovely; I almost feel like I have been there, I had a hard time understanding the relevance of the setting to the plot.

I must also tell you that since I was pinning my hopes on some fancy footwork on the part of the loosed professional killers, I felt that top-of-the-ferris-wheel type plunge of disappointment when the advertised world's government hit-men failed to materialise in any substantial way. I mean, if you are going to have a story where the central character is hunted around the globe by the likes of Mossad and whatever they call the KGB these days, then you really ought to feel like their cold assassins' fingers are clutching at your collar, rather than using their time to sample Italy's Bolognese delights at the expense of their particular governments.

In summary, it was a bit disappointing; certainly not up to Grisham par. The central plot is excellent, but I felt overall it was a bit padded by the scenery.

Buy The Broker by John Grisham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Broker by John Grisham at

Buy The Broker by John Grisham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Broker by John Grisham at


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