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4.0 out of 5 stars Europe as an old soccer field for spies
The author is a lawyer by profession. So do not expect a mistake in that field. But this book does not have to do with a lot of legal arguments. We are in the field of lobbying and power. Who has real power in our modern democracies ? The President ? The CIA and FBI ? Congress ? The People ? Or the rich who can pay for and use organized professional pressure groups know...
Published on April 24 2006 by Jacques COULARDEAU

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Grisham Out of His Depth
In the Author's Notes at the end of the book, Grisham states "If something in this novel approaches accuracy, it's probably a mistake". Purchasing this book in hardcover was my mistake.
He admits that his background is not in tecnology or espionage, and that he did not do any research when writing this book. This laissez faire attitude toward his craft...
Published on Feb. 26 2005 by corbs66


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Grisham Out of His Depth, Feb. 26 2005
By 
"corbs66" (Listowel, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Broker: A Novel (Hardcover)
In the Author's Notes at the end of the book, Grisham states "If something in this novel approaches accuracy, it's probably a mistake". Purchasing this book in hardcover was my mistake.
He admits that his background is not in tecnology or espionage, and that he did not do any research when writing this book. This laissez faire attitude toward his craft greatly shortchanges his readers. Other writers (Jeffery Deaver and Greg Iles come to mind) spend a great deal of energy researching their subject matter and it comes through in their work. What Grisham has done here is an amteurish hack job.
I have been a fan of Grisham for years, but this book was simplistic and boring. Part of what has made Grisham a bestselling author is his ability to create sympathetic characters (be they scoundrels are outright criminals). In The Broker he has failed to create a chracter who is even interesting. By the end of the book I suspect most readers will not even care what happens to the Broker.
If you are looking for a good spy novel try Robert Ludlum.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Europe as an old soccer field for spies, April 24 2006
By 
This review is from: The Broker (Audio CD)
The author is a lawyer by profession. So do not expect a mistake in that field. But this book does not have to do with a lot of legal arguments. We are in the field of lobbying and power. Who has real power in our modern democracies ? The President ? The CIA and FBI ? Congress ? The People ? Or the rich who can pay for and use organized professional pressure groups know as lobbies ? No direct answer in the book, though a lot of implied answering matter. But we deal with the study of what happens when such a lobbying firm gets in possession of military secrets that give them a tremendous and totally secret power and that make them a competitor to secret services and spying agencies around the world. There the answer is once again not clear at all and Grisham definitely projects the dominant opinions and fears of the Western world, or maybe only of the Western hemisphere or even maybe only of the Northern third of the Western hemisphere, onto his subject : the Israeli Mossad is definitely a band of professional killers but they are ''self''-defending the state of Israel and this seems enough to justify these killings for Grisham. The Russians are poor and uninterested in anything and willing to live alone in their corner with their antiquated living style. This view is obviously anterior to the announced decision that Russia will oppose, or not support, sanctions against Iran. They do have the power to veto all United Nations decisions, do they not ? The Americans are, in spite of all the war episodes between and among security agencies and spying chapels, the depositary of all possible peace and safety for the entire world. Europe is nothing but the playground of everyone else. And finally Red China is both ahead of everyone and yet far behind the first three pakistani hackers that come along out of high school. Red China is dangerous, totally inhuman and dictatorial, which means dangerous for the world they only aim at conquering and controlling. Pure post-cold-war phantasms. And yet the book is interesting at another level : the discovery of Italy and the long lesson of Italian. If you can't speak some decent Italian after reading this book, it is because you are linguistically hopeless. That makes the book entertaining though it is rather shallow and superficial. As Grisham himself says : « If something in this novel approaches accuracy, it's probably a mistake. » We will note that the sentence is absolutely meaningless, but it is true down to its very last letter and comma. We must suspend our disbelief a lot and just enjoy the adventure, even if it sounds very iffy at times.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, Université Paris Dauphine, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Grisham at his best., Feb. 8 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Broker (Mass Market Paperback)
When Washington power broker Joel Backman gets a presidential pardon after serving six years of his twenty-year sentence in federal prison for compromising national security, he is given a new identity and sent to Italy. He undergoes an intensive language and culture training program to integrate him into Italian life and hide him from danger... at least that's what he's told. What he doesn't know is that he has been set up by the CIA as a target for assassination in order to determine which foreign agency he tried to sell secrets to.
Joel Backman might be a former lawyer, but this is no legal thriller. There are no courtroom scenes, crime investigations, or legal maneuvers. It borders more on an espionage thriller, although the cloak-and-dagger action is minimal. The book consists mostly of Backman's struggles to keep a low profile in a foreign country and outfox his nameless pursuers. There is some amusing humor at the start of the book as the completely inept president, in his last hours in office, is bullied by the CIA into pardoning Backman. But that rapidly falls by the wayside as Backman goes into hiding. I found that the best part of the book was its delightful travel narrative, with Backman playing tourist and absorbing the local color of Treviso, Bologna, and other Italian cities. I imagined myself sitting with Backman in the cafes, drinking espresso and dining on fantastic local cuisine, learning Italian, and wandering the arched portico-covered sidewalks while absorbing the scenic panoramas of Bologna.
Although the first half of the book was fairly suspenseful, the ending was very disappointing. It seems that Grisham grew weary of Backman's predicament and decided to tie up the loose ends far too tidily. He brought the story abruptly to an unrealistic and naive conclusion. This is not one of Grisham's best efforts, but if you enjoy travelogues and want to practice your Italian 101, you might consider that the book's redeeming quality. You might also check out Giorgio Kostantinos--The Quest, another great thriller.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Grisham should be emabarrassed, Dec 24 2005
By 
Anna Black (Ottawa, ON CANADA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Broker (Mass Market Paperback)
I'm shocked at all the raving reviews! Leaves me to wonder whether readers have no discernment between one story and the next. I've read all of Grisham's books and enjoyed some more than others, but this one is really lazy and sloppy. On several occasions while reading the book, I stopped to think, sheesh, Grisham is using this book to write about Italy's buildings and restaurants. Come on! When you're pulled OUT of the story like that, it's not a good thing.
My second huge complaint is the characterization. Backman is a slimy, greedy lawyer, but six years in jail reforms him. Apparently it doesn't reform him to the point where he'll actually apologize to his son Neal. I was hoping right to the end of the book, but sadly, Backman's greatest concern, is to leave the country and look up his Italian woman. Pretty sad. Especially since despite having given his son nothing all these years, Neal still found it in himself to help him. Not a good thing when you don't like your main character.
It seemed to me Grisham decided he wanted to write a book about Italy and the story was secondary in his considerations.
I don't care about spending $12 on this book, but I need to go find me a GOOD book to get this one out of my system.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical Grisham---what is?, June 27 2005
This review is from: The Broker: A Novel (Hardcover)
From his very first novel until his current work, John Grisham has evolved as a writer, having become more introspective and a keener judge of human character. I'm reminded at time of the writing style of Jackson McCrae, in his "Children's Corner" or possibly Elmore Leonard in his "Get Shorty." While the subject material of those books is different, something about them reminds me of Grisham---perhaps the deft handling of the material. THE BROKER is a cross-genre classic that melds the thriller with wonderful insights into the culture of modern Italy all the while analyzing the flawed but repentant soul of its hero, Joel Backman. Backman is spirited out of the country and relocated to Italy. Most of THE BROKER is set in Bologna, Italy, which may be the first time that a Grisham novel is set outside of his native South. The location gives Grisham an opportunity to share with his readers his love and knowledge of Italian history, architecture and cuisine. As most successful authors do, Grisham has researched his subject matter in great detail. By his own admission he gained 10 pounds while researching THE BROKER.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The eclectic Grisham, March 24 2005
This review is from: The Broker: A Novel (Hardcover)
The excellent writing style and expertly paced plot in THE BROKER reminded me of some of Jackson McCrae's writings-----his CHILDREN'S CORNER comes to mind, as does the writing in some of Elmore Leonard's book. Once again Grisham proves he is the master of intrigue. Joel Backman is our character attorney for this new thriller. He had a foot in every door in Washington DC. He attempted to broker a deal for a satellite spy system that caused ripples everywhere, went sour and he got himself some jail time with the deal held in the balance. He spends six years in prison before the director of the CIA takes up the cause for a pardon and the President has Backman released. He is now a target of several agencies that want him dead and the weave of the plot that follows as he is hunted is the tastiest nugget of the book.
When Backman is released he is taken under protective custody to Bologna, Italy where Grisham takes some time to describe some of the surroundings and convey some of the different aspects of learning to live in a different culture. I thought it was similar to the direction he took in THE LAST JUROR where he went into detail about the aspects of a small Mississippi town and got some criticism for it but here as there, I don't think it detracts from the appealing pace of the book at all. The book is as usual for Grisham easy to follow and very fast to finish. A fantastic read, one of his better books.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Stop him before he writes again!, March 14 2005
By 
This review is from: The Broker: A Novel (Hardcover)
Do not read this book. More importantly, do not buy this book! If his sales fall sufficiently then perhaps, just perhaps, mind, we'll be able to convince his publisher and editors not to publish his books anymore until he actually takes the time and effort to write a decent novel. His early books were exciting and entertaining page-turners; his latest books are nothing but dreck. We must stop this.
The Broker is full of cardboard characters, who don't have a well-developed personality among them, and is really nothing more than an excuse for a lesson in Italian culture (no cappuchino after 10:30) and how best to learn a language (provided you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture, with a one-on-one tutor). At best, it might have the material for a short story, if he worked on character-development and plot, but it should never have been stretched to novel length.
Grisham can do better; he's proven it with his earlier novels. Let's encourage him to do better by voting with our wallets. Do not buy his books until he returns to writing books worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My brokerage account, April 19 2005
This review is from: The Broker: A Novel (Hardcover)
First and foremost Mr. Grisham is an entertainer. The price of this book is cheap compared to the pleasure that comes from reading it. Too often we are unnecessarily critical, especially when it comes to the writers who have written well in the past. Was this book one of Grisham's best? I really don't know, but I do know that I read it in one sitting and my biggest regret is that I know I'll have to wait year or more for another book, like this, from him. I just hope he never stops writing. For those of you looking for technical flaws, well there is one on page 329 that gets repeated a number of times in the following 10-15 pages. See if you can spot it. Thanks Mr. Grisham for the great read!! Would also highly recommend another little book I came across titled THE CHILDREN'S CORNER by Jackson McCrae-----great, great writing that packs a punch. Check it and "The Broker" out.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it well enough, May 23 2005
This review is from: The Broker: A Novel (Hardcover)
I just finished Grisham's latest. He did surprise me with his ending but overall the story was pretty far fetched. Oh well, I did line his pockets a little because I purchased the book, but the story was not as outstanding as some of his others.
I wonder, sometimes, if an author, after a spate of early success and record earnings, becomes an automaton turning out book after book because that is the way they are now programmed, regardless of the quality of the story. Grisham definitely has a talent for storytelling. He just needs to focus on it again. I tend to read any and everything, from the latest thing I saw on TV (McCrae's "Children's Corner") to self-help books ("The Purpose Driven Life") so don't suppose that I'm a die-hard Grisham or spy novel fan. All I'm saying is that I expected a little more. Still, "The Broker" is better than most stuff out there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Broker, Jan. 2 2006
This review is from: The Broker (Mass Market Paperback)
I really like John Grisham's new book "The Broker". I recieved it as a Christmas gift and once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down!! I really enjoyed the details of Italy, it made me feel like I was there but also enticed me to one day hopefully visit. I think it was written different from most of his thriller books, and as whole, people do not like change. Maybe it is because I have read almost all of his books, except his non-thriller books such as Skipping Christmas, am a long time fan and LOVE him as an author. I think this one was written in such a way that you knew the plot and who was out to kill him right away but the thrill was going if he was going live with so many after him. I don't judge the characters, after all who are we to say how anyone else should live their life!
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The Broker
The Broker by John Grisham (Mass Market Paperback - Nov. 22 2005)
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