The Broker

One of the worst feelings is to be wanted.  Not only wanted but wanted dead.  Having given your family a bad name, they want nothing to do with you.  You were a power shot broker in Washington and all it took was a bad deal on an international scale and now you are a Federal prison rat. 
A lame duck President sits fading as the final days, hours, minutes, less alone seconds pass by in office knowing he is on his way out and you are banking on the fact and act his graces will grant you his last pardon to escape the death penalty.  But the greatest question is: would it be less painful to be dead or alive where many people are out to hunt you down to kill you?  All you want to do for the rest of your life is to stay in a cold, dark Federal correction cell but even in that environment it is hard to trust those who protect you.  This is the only lifestyle that could be lived and know how to be lived.
Author John Grisham took the suspense of his pen to introduce us to Joel Backman, this power shot broker in Washington who had to pay a price for a bad deal, by carving a masterpiece through to which mystery, drama, and the science of what it means to take a man out of his own element and placing him in another form. 
All it took was the Feds whisking Backman away in a military cargo plane (yes, there was a catch to me reading this novel) and sending him to an unknown place to which he would have to leave the man he knew his whole life.  To change himself completely.  Adopt a new name, a new language, less alone lifestyle within a matter of days as if he had been living in this new place his whole life.  Not only that but to be given one last chance at life.  The Feds were backing him up and keeping him well protected, well, for now..  But was it a plot for his own government to kill him before the others?  The Saudis also wanted him.  So did the Chinese, and the Israelis.  There was purely no escape only that which would test the limit element to which he would've never realized he could possibly achieve.  This is coming from someone who always got what he wanted.  The element of survival as the American government was also eventually closing in on him.
Within all of this, he has to have a connection to the outside world.  A world that he once knew.  Freedom.  But at what price would he have to pay?
I fell in love with this novel not only because of the above, but because Grisham took me not only back in time but also abroad to a place I call fantasy land: Italy.  Grisham allowed me once again to roam the cobblestone streets of Assisi aligned with the smell of the cafés of Genoa with the breathtaking views of Florence and Rome.  He not only took Backman/Lazerri out of his element but did the same with me.  Because of this novel I found myself reminiscing as I was brushing up on basic Italian at lightening speed while eating my favorite Italian foods.  When I make my return to Italy, I must say that Bologna will be on my list.
Florence, Italy
This book was about running away only to find out that you run away to face your own fears in the end more than you would had you not left in the first place.  Leave it to Grisham to accomplish this, not only to captivate his readers but to do it with style.  Italian style.
Thank you Mr. Grisham for not only introducing me to Joel Backman but also transporting me to the world of Marco Lazerri.  Not only once, but twice.

I would ask you if there is any place in the world where would you go if you wanted to test the limits of your own element, your own environment, however, I will give you the answer to this: enter into the world of


  1. Jeremy, this is an incredible write up. And.... I just bought this book because of this post. Now, the only part to believability... Federal Prisons are not the dungeons we think they are. ;) So I've heard they have wifi and cocktail hour with big screen televisions.
    Seriously... what if? Sometimes I think that would be a fantasy to change your life, where nobody knows you and you can start anew. But you can never leave the past behind. What would happen? I can hardly wait until my book arrives. Thank you for the excellent recommendation.

  2. Karlene thanks for your excellent comment and I am glad you purchased this novel. it really had an effect. But that is the power of a great author.

    As for prisons, yes,.. they are more than adequate for the needs of those who reside within. I once saw something online that said elderly persons and prisoners should switch places as those in correctional facilities are treated better than those in nursing homes.

    Overall you will love this book. Thank you so much for your comment!


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