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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite the real thing (from a 'bolognese')
Being myself a native of Bologna, after reading the first review and learning the plot was partially set in my hometown I immediately felt attracted to this book.
The idea that Bologna might just be the place where one would go to disappear from the face of the earth (at least from the anglo-saxon face) just seems improbable to me. But then, indeed Bologna is VERY...
Published on 28 Oct 2005 by Roberto Baldini

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Page-Turner That Will Help You Learn Italian
In the Author's Note for this book, John Grisham observes that his background is law . . . and not satellites or espionage. In addition, he admits to being a technophobe when it comes to electronic gadgets. Be aware of this information before deciding if you want to read this book or not.
The Broker is a book about high tech satellites, espionage and involves...
Published on 18 Mar 2005 by Donald Mitchell


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Page-Turner That Will Help You Learn Italian, 18 Mar 2005
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Broker (Hardcover)
In the Author's Note for this book, John Grisham observes that his background is law . . . and not satellites or espionage. In addition, he admits to being a technophobe when it comes to electronic gadgets. Be aware of this information before deciding if you want to read this book or not.
The Broker is a book about high tech satellites, espionage and involves advanced use of all kinds of electronic gadgets. Those are clearly the weakest parts of the story . . . for the reasons stated above.
You can also read the book as a variation on the old television series, The Prisoner. The book works better that way. A lame, lame-duck president is encouraged by a Machiavellian CIA director to pardon Joel Backman, a traitorous deal maker. The CIA wants to see who kills Backman as a way to solve some old mysteries.
From that premise, the story mostly moves to Backman's perspective as he is unexpectedly removed from a very unpleasant solitary confinement into being shepherded around Italy in a process of assuming a new identity . . . as an Italian. You will struggle with Backman as he learns Italian (and pick up a lot of phrases and words yourself) and follow him through the tourist sites and back streets of Bologna. You will probably also get some ideas for Italian foods you'd like to try. This part is the most appealing aspect of the book.
From there, Grisham puts a target on Backman's back and the thriller part of the story begins. I found that aspect of the book to be well below average. Grisham would be well advised to follow the advice of those who tell writers to stick to what they know.
As compared to most page turners, The Broker is perfectly acceptable. If you are looking, however, for a book that captures the early Grisham style and appealing story lines, this isn't it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite the real thing (from a 'bolognese'), 28 Oct 2005
By 
This review is from: The Broker (Paperback)
Being myself a native of Bologna, after reading the first review and learning the plot was partially set in my hometown I immediately felt attracted to this book.
The idea that Bologna might just be the place where one would go to disappear from the face of the earth (at least from the anglo-saxon face) just seems improbable to me. But then, indeed Bologna is VERY different from a north american metropolis.. and in the book this change of setting hits the hero allright. You can feel the constant comparison with how things would be back home that Backman (the protagonist) draws with every gesture, every glance, every step in this town, while he is exploring and trying to blend in at the same time. In this I do believe the psichological portrait Grisham draws of the main character is a full one, without being too obvious and pedantic. The reader (at least I did) just feels that Backman is absorbing all this 'foreignness' of the city around him and slowly slowly changing his habits and behaviour. Quite subtle, maybe too subtle for the average Grisham reader, used to fast paced action and constant adrenaline rushes.
In fact quite a few of the readers that enjoyed the first books of Grisham, when they read this book obviously felt dislocated (see for yourself a few of the not-so-positive reviews posted by other readers..).
I liked the book. Maybe I am biased because I know the city where the book is set, maybe. But the challenge Grisham probably set himself was that of writing a legal-spy action book that actually would narrate, not just set out a chronichle of a very dense plot. At the same time he obviously wanted to characterize its main figures. This trend towards fuller writing has been a constant evoultion in the latest years of Grisham novels. Personally I would leave action to Ludlum, Clancy (whom I also enjoy reading) and keep this new Grisham as it is. A good read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I thought it was a good read, 7 Sep 2006
By 
Mr. Andrew Allison (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Broker (Mass Market Paperback)
It has been a long time since I lasted posted a review and to be honest I would not be writing now if it hadn't been for all the negative reviews I have just read from so many different people.

I read this book in one day back in March when I was in the US. While my friend was out at work, I was reading and sipping coffee. As I said, I read it in the less than 24 hours and I found it to be one of those books I couldn't put down. I thought it was fast paced in places and also a gentle ramble around Italy and Italian customs.

Those reviewers who have described this book as utter rubbish are simply wrong. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but rubbish it is not. Some may not like the subject matter, but the quality of penmanship is still there. You know you are reading John Grisham. I would recommend this book to anyone. You are not wasting your hard earned cash if you buy it.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average by Grisham's standards, 29 April 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Broker (Hardcover)
I look forward to Grisham's annual release and, as usual, I bought his latest offering as soon as it hit the shelves. I then decided to wait to read it until I went on holiday in early April.
I have to say I think this isn't his best work...by a stretch. I find it difficult, really difficult, to criticise anything Grisham does because everything he publishes is well written and well researched. But I'm struggling to come up with a word to describe how I found The Broker. "Disappointing" is probably the fairest way to describe it. If you ignore smaller novels such as Bleachers then The Broker is (as far as I'm aware) Grisham's third novel where he deviates from the courtroom (or from lawyers at any rate). His first one - A Painted House - I thought was excellent. I thought with his second one - The Last Juror - which, despite the title was actually about a newspaper editor was a little shaky, but I gave him the benfit of the doubt. This third effort has left me wondering if he's better off sticking to what he does brilliantly. To all those who are claiming this is his "best book ever" then I urge you to read A Time To Kill, The Partner, The Firm, The Rainmaker, The Pelican Brief etc etc. They are all vastly superior to The Broker.
I started reading it with the usual anticipation I have when reading a Grisham novel. It started out ok. I then waited for something to happen. And waited. And waited. I finished the book and couldn't help thinking that I had just read the longest "vacation report" every written. Grisham quite clearly loves all things Italian (and tells us as much in his author's note). In fact he loves Italy so much so that he decides to pad out more than half the book with Italian phrases, detailed descriptions of Italian cuisine, the coffee drinking habits of Italians and then in incredible detail the entire history of Bologne. I love Italy, the language, the wine and the food. But if I wanted to learn more about Italy then I'd either visit the place or I'd buy an Italian phrase book. I kinda got the impression that Mr Grisham went and lived out there for 6 months or so, learned the lingo and loved it so much he decided to tell everyone about it, but then cleverly disguised is as his new best seller.
The plot is, by his standards, weak at best. You never really gain any real affection for the lead character (as you did with the one out of The Partner for example) and some of the other characters that are introduced in detail early on in the book then simply disappear towards the end. I don't really want to criticise anything else about the book as I'm just hoping this was a one off.
It's fairly obvious that some authors reach such a pinacle in their careers that they can often go a few years churning out well below average books whilst selling millions of copies as they coast along on their reputation. James Patterson's "Alex Cross" series immediately springs to mind (his last one - London Bridges - was woefully bad). To be honest if The Broker had been written by a new, unknown author then I'd be surprised if it would have even got published.
I hope and pray that Grisham reverts back to writing about what he knows best - lawyers and courtrooms. Leave the spy thrillers to the likes of Clancy and Ludlum.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment, disappointment, 1 May 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Broker (Hardcover)
I am a Grisham fan. The Broker was a huge disappointment.
First, I did not intend to buy an Italian Guide or a book on Italian cuisine. Second, the plot itself is farfetched and hard to believe. Third, and most important, the characters have no deepness (in addition, some are presented but play no role in the whole book). I found even the "Broker" poorly described and until the end I could not make up my mind if I wished that he be killed or saved. Clearly I didn't care, a definite proof that, for me at least, this book was a failure.
I hope Grisham gets back to the way he use to write.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Mis-Hit, 29 Dec 2006
By 
BikeMan (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Broker (Mass Market Paperback)
This book starts well as the main character (Joel) gets a last minute presidential pardon from prison and you discover how he was involved in the 'theft' and potential sale of an immensely powerful satellite system.

But then the plot shifts to Joel's subsequent life adapting to living in Italy as part of a protection programme. For most of the book we find out how Joel learns to speak Italian (in some detail) - and that is pretty much it.

It's quite tedious waiting for an escape attempt, an assassination - or even anything other than the interminable number of cups of coffee this guy can drink. He seems to spend ages walking around Bologna oblivious to the fact that half the world is after him with murderous intent.

At the end of the book he does leave Italy and return to face the music - but it all falls flat.

John Grisham has much better to read ... try The Rainmaker, The Firm, The Client or A Time to Kill.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grisham is BROKE, 17 Jun 2005
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Broker (Hardcover)
Joel Backman has been serving 6 years of a 20 year jail sentence when he is unexpectedly pardoned by the out-going US President. Backman was once a highly influential political power-broker with friends (and enemies) in the highest places. But when he became involved in trading software that had the ability to hack into another country's latest and most sophisticated defence satellite system, he had faced a choice of confession or likely assassination. He chose to confess, needless to say. Now without prior warning he has been set free, although he's being very closely tracked by the CIA (who manipulated the president for Backman's release) and, eventually, secret agents from a number of other countries.
Choosing a new Grisham novel is rarely a difficult decision, he's a good story teller and several of his earlier works have been converted into big-budget movies. I doubt that this will be one of them however. As I progressed through the story, I became more and more interested in the story that wasn't told - the events leading up to Backman's arrest 6 years ago - and wondered if this book was actually a sequel to a previous novel which covered that storyline. I'm pretty sure it wasn't, and it made me wonder if Grisham could have created a better novel if he had told that story rather than this "sequel". It seems to me that there would have been a lot more excitement, more tension and good old entertainment than in The Broker.

Much of the story takes place in Italy, where Backman has been forced to hide (by the CIA), and it wasn't long before I gained the impression that his culture-adaptation and learning of local history was similar to his own experiences (Grisham's) while he researched the book. I know that it was right that he should go there to better understand the ways of Italian people, but his experiences seemed to influence the story more than they need have done. And I found Grisham's stereotypes of "Europeans" very irritating, occasionally referring to them as if everyone in Europe comes from the same small village. While not exactly racist, it does nevertheless sound rather ridiculous, as we know only too well that the characteristics and attitudes of European people vary enormously, in fact in Britain alone we have a widely diverse culture. To illustrate, I quote from Chapter 12 : "Space is shared in Europe, not protected. Tables are shared, the air evidently is shared because smoking bothers no-one. Cars, houses, buses, apartments, cafes - so many important aspects of life are smaller, thus more cramped, thus more willingly shared. It's not offensive to go nose-to-nose with an acquaintance during routine conversation because no space is being violated. Talk with your hands, hug, embrace, even kiss at times."
Well, that may be true in Bologna, but I'm not sure it applies in Basildon. Or Birmingham, or Basingstoke, or Bolton for that matter.
Despite this sweeping, generalistic description of us "Europeans", Grisham is keen to point out the cultural differences between those from Texas compared to those of Tenessee, the characteristics of a Canadian as opposed to an American, and why someone from Manhattan is different from someone from Memphis.
And I'm sure that many readers of The Broker will have found, as I did, the seemingly endless translations of Italian to English more than a little irritating. We got the point after one page of it - but it went on for ages until it became like an Italian-English phrase book.
This book could have been hugely improved by omitting the naive 'Euro-observations' (American style), cutting back on 90% of the translation, and perhaps replacing that with the untold story of the events which took place before Backman was jailed. At least half a book could have been dedicated to those past years, it could have been called 'Part One', there could then have been a 'Part Two' entitled "Six Years Later" which would have been a condensed version of the story we are actually given here. This was, in the end, frustrating for me because there's no doubt that Grisham is (was?) a very good story-teller, but on this occasion he has been rather casual, not stretching his once vivid imagination to the fullest, and failing to come up with a really gripping, entertaining story that we all know he is capable of. And I have to disagree with the opinions of one or two other reviewers here who thought the ending was fast-paced and exciting; it wasn't. Quite the opposite - I was waiting for some kind of bombshell, but then I reached the final page and I was still waiting. It just fizzled away meekly.
It's almost as if Grisham spent an extended holiday in Italy, decided to write his memoirs of that mini-odyssey, and to make money he built a mildly interesting fictional story around it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written book, 5 April 2005
By 
This review is from: The Broker (Hardcover)
"The Broker" is one of those books that seem to be all to rare these days: not only does it have a great story, but it is also immaculately written - THIS is why Mr. Grisham is popular and continues to sell millions of books! I have been very impressed with his most recent output, as I think he has returned to form greatly ("The Street Lawyer" bored me, and I never got far into it, before discarding it for "The Brethren", which was excellent).
Okay, the story is not Blockbuster-paced, but I think it works all the better for it. I found myself completely incapable of putting this down, so languid and beautifully was it written. And yes, like a couple of other reviewers here, I learned rather a lot of Italian. Something I thought might become annoying, but actually didn't. The characters are brilliantly brought to life on every page, and you do grow attached to them.
Never boring, "The Broker" is a book of rare high-calibre. Very highly recommended to all fans of the author, and to those who just want to read a great book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Grisham's Italian contribution to lonelyplanet.com, 2 Jan 2007
This review is from: The Broker (Mass Market Paperback)
The relevance of basing so much of the story in Italy still escapes me - as others have suggested, Grisham must have holidayed there and thought it appropriate to reflect on his experiences in some way. And why the continuing references to the intelligence services of so many countries when they had no bearing on the plot? I had hoped that their involvement would really add to the overall intrigue, but in the end they played no part. In short, a rather lazy effort from someone who has produced much better in the past.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the paper it is printed on, 14 Jan 2006
This review is from: The Broker (Mass Market Paperback)
It is amazing what a writer with a good name gets away.
This is nothing more than a re-packaged Italian 101. The one star is for the Italian vocabulary I picked up on the first 380 pages until the protagonist's lesson's come to an end.
I never read a more boring book - and I studied Accounting & Finance for four years.
Mr. Grisham managed to burn a lot of brand equity with this lame piece of work.
As a warning to every tempted reader - avoiding at all costs!!!
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The Broker
The Broker by John Grisham (Paperback - 26 May 2011)
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