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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Broker by John Grisham

The Broker by John Grisham. New York: Doubleday, 2005. ISBN: 0-385-51045-4

Another year, another Grisham thriller. Grisham seems to churn them out one per year, except for 2003, when he managed to put two into print. The plot of this latest one is even less believable than the last. Some Pakistani hackers hack into a super-secret satellite spy network, as good or better than anything the US has, and manage to take it over, rendering it inoperable to its original creators, whoever they were, but making it available to the highest bidder.

They hire “the broker,” Joel Backman, a high-rolling Washington insider, a lobbyist, in other words, a power broker, not a Wall Street type. But all this happens well before our story opens, which finds a jaded one-term president pardoning Backman from a term in Federal prison at the behest of the CIA, who want to dangle him from a string, and see who sends their assassins after him, hoping to follow their lead back to whoever created or tried to buy up the satellite system. Will it be the Russians? The Chinese? The Israelis? or maybe the Saudis?

Most of the story is spent following the misadventures of our erstwhile broker, now hiding under an assumed name in the CIA's version of the witness protection program. For their own nefarious reasons, they ship him off to Italy where he is essentially at their mercy, in a strange country, not speaking the language.

None of this makes much sense, but it's not really what the book is about anyhow. It's more about Backman, the ultimate survivor, and how he attempts to turn the CIA's plans back against them, and escape from the racket into obscurity.

Why do I waste my time on these suspense cream puffs? Force of habit, I guess. They are always a quick read, and relatively entertaining as such things go. Once again, recommended only for the loyal Grisham fan.

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