One of the appealing qualities of John Grisham is that he dares to be different on occasion. Many popular fiction writers find a consistent theme and follow that approach novel after novel, but Grisham cannot be so easily characterized. True, most of his writing involves lawyers and the legal profession, but the popular author occasionally will veer away from that theme and readers will find themselves experiencing a book far different from what most would identify as the standard Grisham thriller.
THE BROKER is such a book. For this novel Grisham has entered the world of politics, crime and espionage. This thriller is different from anything Grisham has written previously, yet it shares the most important traits that readers expect from a Grisham book --- a fast-paced, entertaining and suspenseful story.
In the waning days of his failed four-year term as President of the United States, Arthur Morgan is performing those final duties associated with leaving office. Among those chores are reviewing requests for Presidential pardons. The President is not emotionally up to the task because in his view, "How sad that after four tumultuous years of leading the free world it would all fizzle into one miserable pile of requests from a bunch of crooks." But one of those crooks has a very influential advocate on behalf of his pardon. The Director of the CIA makes a rare visit to the White House to suggest that Joel Backman, a former powerful "Beltway" lobbyist who has spent six years in prison, be released. The President accedes to the wishes of the Director, and Backman finds himself hurriedly summoned to the prison facility where he's incarcerated to work out the hasty conditions of his pardon.
Unbeknownst to Backman, his pardon is not the result of an altruistic motive by the government. The truth is that the broker is the bait. Backman had gone to prison as a result of a scheme to sell a satellite system to the world's highest bidder. The U.S. wants to know who owned the system and had access to its secrets. They theorize that once the broker is established in a new location with a new identity, the actual owner will exact their revenge on Backman by assassination. In that fashion an important piece of intelligence data now will be unearthed. Backman is the che