The Broker

By: John Grisham

Rating: 90%

Brief Summary: The President Pardons a wanted man.

The Broker is easily John Grisham's most memorable novel since The Runaway Jury - a time period which covers the last 10 years.

The plot is very straight forward. An outgoing President makes an "eleventh hour" pardon to a man serving a long prison sentence - a fifty year-old, former power broker from Washington, D.C. - named Joel Backman, the character at the center of this novel. Part of the reason for this pardon was an involved plot by the CIA director to unleash Backman - who had been a thorn in his side for years - into a world where he was a wanted man - while the U.S. government sits back and watches which of his enemies will get to him first. Israel, the Saudis, the Chinese, the Russians, who will it be?

Upon being released from Prison, Backman is rushed out of the United States to a secret location in Italy - where his entire Identity will be changed - including his name, he will now be known as Marco. We read for several chapters while this transformation takes place. Once Joel/Marco becomes acclimated and comfortable with his new environment, he comes out of hiding and goes on the offensive...

In, The Broker we see Grisham takes a step outside of his usual comfort zone and writes a story that does not revolve around courtrooms or law. While the central character was once a lawyer - in fact a senior partner of a law firm, this is provided merely as background information - and not an integral part of the plot. Rather, this story does not focus on one specific subject, but is more of a fast paced mystery novel - a man hiding from his enemies while being protected by people unknown to him for an unknown reason.

We do read, however, a comment by Grisham himself at the conclusion of the story in which he tells us what exactly was researched. He says that the one aspect of the story that he did spend significant time studying was Italy itself - and this is very apparent as we feel like we are there with the main character. In the past, Grisham has not been very descriptive when it comes to the locale, so this is a welcoming change. Another aspect that the reader should be prepared for is that there is a sizable amount of dialog that is in Italian. However, every line is translated.

The ending was somewhat disappointing in that there was maybe one aspect that could be considered a twist. So do not expect any brilliant scheming. The only question really is, will Joel's enemies catch up with him?

The Broker is a novel that keeps the reader interested from beginning to end. I really do not recall any section where the story began to slow down. This book comes highly recommended and is easily Grisham's best novel in a long time!

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