In his final hours in the Oval Office the outgoing President grants a full pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years hidden away in a federal prison. It's a controversial move, but what no one else knows is that the presidential pardon comes as a result of enormous pressure from the CIA. They ...
In his final hours in the Oval Office the outgoing President grants a full pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years hidden away in a federal prison. It's a controversial move, but what no one else knows is that the presidential pardon comes as a result of enormous pressure from the CIA. They claim that Backman may have obtained secrets that would compromise the world's most sophisticated satellite surveillance system. Backman is quietly smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plane; he is given a new name, a new identity, and a new home in Italy. Eventually, once he has settled into his new life, the CIA will leak his whereabouts to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese and the Saudis. Then the CIA will do what it does best: sit back and watch. The question is not whether Backman will survive - there's no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is: who will kill him?
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I was surprised to find out that this book, the Broker, is not about courtroom drama that Grisham is so good with, but rather is a spy type story with the main character just happening to be an attorney--an attorney that has gotten himself into some serious trouble and has pleaded guilty to a twenty year sentence in federal prison, where he plans to hide from those that want to kill him. He has spent six years in prison when he is suddenly pardened by the outgoing President just two days before the president leaves office. It all has to do with a spy satellite that is more sophisticated than anything the USA or Russia has in the skies, and which no one is sure who put in the sky. It was discovered by three Arab hackers by accident. The three Arabs wrote a program that neutralized the satellite, and now want to sell the program for a ton of money. They hired a broker, Joel Backman, to sell their program. That's how Backman got into all his trouble. Backman has now been pardoned due to the efforts of the CIA who want to see who will kill Backman: the Israelis, the Saudis, The Chinese or the Russians. They hope this will tell them who put the satellite up there in the first place. This is as good as any espionage story that I have read.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-01-10 Readers will find an amiable travelogue to Italy and its charms in Grisham's latest. What they won't find are the suspense and inspired plotting that have made the author (The Last Juror, etc.) one of the world's bestselling writers. Yet Grisham remains a smooth storyteller, and few will fail to finish this oddball tale of what happens to ruined D.C. powerbroker Joel Blackman, 52, when he's suddenly released from federal prison after six years. Teddy Maynard, legendary CIA director, has engineered the release in order to put Joel into a variant of the witness protection program and then see who kills him. Many want him dead-the Saudis, the Israelis, especially the Chinese-because of his role in trying to sell a global satellite spy system that would alter the world's balance of power; that was what got Joel imprisoned, and the CIA hopes that whoever kills him will clue them in to who may have access to the satellites. Joel is relocated to Bologna, and much of the narrative consists of his touring that city, its historic sights and its many restaurants, and learning Italian ways from his male handler, Luigi, and his language tutor, Francesca-a middle-aged woman with whom he falls in love. A major subplot concerns Joel's secret dealings with his stateside son to prepare for escape from Bologna if necessary. Eventually, the CIA leaks Joel's whereabouts to his enemies, who dispatch killing teams. Can Joel broker his way to safety? There's some depth to the troubled relationship between Joel and his tutor, but otherwise the novel reads like a contented afterthought to a memorable Italian vacation, with little action or tension, plastic characters and plot turns that a tricycle could maneuver. Still, anyone wishing to learn how and why Bologna built its famed porticos, why to be wary of most Italian desserts and how to send an encrypted wireless message using a global cell phone will find that information cheerfully given here. (Jan. 11) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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