The Broker by John Grisham


Pros: the beginning and the middle were fine

Cons: the ending – it was terrible

The book was fine. Really. It held my interest. I was captivated by the story and the characters. But then it fizzled out with a very disappointing ending.

I’m talking about John Grisham’s The Broker.

Meet Joel Backman… A Washington power broker who has been in jail for the past six years. Prior to his arrest he took Washington by storm, amassing huge wealth, and coming into possession of some software that could absolutely affect the world.

But now the outgoing president has granted him a pardon. He’s free to go, all charges have been cleared. But it’s all a setup. They’re letting him go for one reason only – to see who comes after him first. The Chinese? The Russians? The Saudis? The US doesn’t care one single bit if Backman is killed for his software. They just want to know who does it. I.e., which country is to be most feared going forward.

There you have it. What follows is a game of cat and mouse. We follow Backman through his new-found freedom. Settling in, in a new country, and slowly becoming aware that all is not what it seems. It’s quite a pleasant story, actually. It’s fun to watch the mouse avoid the cat time and time again, especially when he uses some very clever maneuvers to do so.

Of course we fall in love with Backman just a little bit. It doesn’t matter to us what he’s done in the past, we get to know him as he is today. And we root for him to survive.

But then Grisham’s time ran out. Or, at least that’s what I assume happened. He suddenly decided it was time to finish it up so he cobbled together a terrible ending and shipped the book off. That’s how it seems, anyway. I’m talking about a ridiculous ending that makes little sense and leaves more questions than answers.

It’s a shame when a book holds my interest and seems like it’s all going to work out well, only to be spoiled at the end. It renders the whole thing a big waste of time. Without the satisfying ending I have nothing to hold onto, nothing to remember, and nothing to recommend. It’s really sad because I know Grisham can do better. His courtroom dramas are legendary.

But I have no choice except to tell you to skip The Broker.

Also by John Grisham

The Litigators

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