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Publisher's Summary

In his final hours in the Oval Office, the outgoing President grants a controversial last-minute pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years hidden away in a federal prison. What no one knows is that the President issues the pardon only after receiving enormous pressure from the CIA. It seems Backman, in his power broker heyday, may have obtained secrets that compromise the world's most sophisticated satellite surveillance system. Backman is quietly smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plane, given a new name, a new identity, and a new home in Italy. Eventually, after he has settled into his new life, the CIA will leak his whereabouts to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese, and the Saudis. Then the CIA will do what it does best: sit back and watch. The question is not whether Backman will survive, there is no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is, who will kill him?
©2004 Belfry Holdings, Inc (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"The spy-versus-spy intrigue is well constructed and fast paced." (The New York Times Book Review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 02-26-05

Why all the bad reviews?

I am a Gresham fan and enjoy his style of writing. There is action, mystery, suspense and tense moments, all the elements of an enjoyable book. I was not looking for anything that was heavy, rather something that was intelligently entertaining. The broker won. I am glad I didn't read all the negative reviews first because I would have avoided this book. I enjoyed this book.

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25 of 25 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Bull on 01-18-05

Grisham wins a bet.

This is a stunningly bad book. Without Grisham's name it would never have been published. Like many readers I tend to shop for my favorite authors' works. Never again. I can almost believe Grisham made a bet with someone that he could get any drivel published, and wrote this to win the bet.

The most outrageous flaw in the book is the hours and hours of descriptions of Joel Backman (the Broker) learning Italian. It made no sense in the plot for him to even be required to do so. He never really needs to speak Italian, except to order espresso (which he wil do dozens of times, and each time you'll be treated to extensive English-Italian translations of the transaction). In his intro to Italian his tutor shows him the sights of Bologna, and yes, describes in detail every sight, right down to the number of steps in the tower. At first the travelogue is sort of interesting, but as hours go by and the plot (if ever there was one) is advanced, I found myself wishing I was reading, rather than listening, so I could flip forward a few pages and end the agony.

The basic premise of the plot makes no sense at all. Presumably the Broker is begin set up to be killed by some foreign agency. Depending on which one pulls it off, the CIA learns who owned a satellite system. But they're all gunning for him, and it's not a question of who wants him worst or for what reason, but who will get lucky. And, by the way, there's an excellent chance the CIA will not know which one was successful!

And speaking of that satellite system, Grisham should ask any high school science teacher how fast a satellite in a 300 mile orbit would be travelling. Trust me, it's a lot more than 120 mph. Tom Clancy can rest easy.

The characters are a mess. I didn't know whether to like Backman or hate him. In the end I didn't care. Some interesting characters pop up, like the Tin man, but once developed, they slip away, never to appear again.

Save yourself a few bucks. Don't buy this book.

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147 of 163 people found this review helpful

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