Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: THE BROKER, by John Grisham

John Grisham
Doubleday, 2005
448 pages

I will never forget reading THE FIRM. It was decades ago. John Grisham exploded on the scene, a new hero in legal thrillers (on the heels of Scott Turrow's PRESUMED INNOCENT, if I recall correctly).

An instant fan, I followed his work, buying up his books. And then, about ten years ago, I just found myself tired of legal thrillers. Took a break, and moved on to other genres. Back into legal thrillers, I picked up where I left off. And I read THE BROKER.

The synopsis is as follows: In his final hours in office, the outgoing President grants a controversial last-minute pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years hidden away in a federal prison. What no one knows is that the President issues the pardon only after receiving enormous pressure from the CIA. It seems that Backman, in his heyday, may have obtained secrets that compromise the world’s most sophisticated satellite surveillance system.

Backman is quietly smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plane, given a new name, a new identity, and a new home in Italy. Eventually, after 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 is no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is, Who will kill him?

Sounds good, right? The book was boring as hell. It was more like A tour guide for people visiting Italy. The last fifty pages or so held some excitement. Even then it was blah at best. The thing is, the storytelling is wonderful. The characters are well-crafted. The concept is intriguing. I think when you expect a thriller the reader hopes the tale will be ... thrilling.

I am not giving up on the legendary author. In fact, I am currently reading THE CONFESSION ... and loving it. So. Yeah. THE BROKER, a bit of a disappointment. So much so, I would call it skippable.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series
and The Vaccination Trilogy

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