The Broker, by John Grisham

Joel Backman is a political lobbyist of some sort who's pardoned by an outgoing president while he's still got fourteen years of his prison sentence left to run. Without knowing what's going on, he's collected by the security services and taken to Italy, where he's told he has to learn the language, and is watched constantly as he adopts to life in his new country.

It reminded me a bit of The Partner, in that both books have a main character who has in the past been a significant player who got involved in some apparent crime that results in their having to spend most of the book in hiding.

Well I suppose it was readable, but the plot was rubbish and for "the greatest thriller writer alive" there were not very many thrills. The crime for which Joel was imprisoned is based on a ridiculous idea: the reasons the CIA have for getting him to Italy are frankly unbelievable, and for most of the book (I reckon must be the first three quarters), all that happens is that Joel learns Italian and worries about why he's where he is.

In the last part of the book Joel makes a run for it, eluding various would-be assassins on his tail, and there is a bit of tension here, but not a lot. There's a sort of minor reveal at the end, but the whole thing's so implausible that you don't really care.

Perhaps the weakest Grisham I've read.

Completed : 21-Jan-2009

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