Joel Backman is the Broker. He was a very successful power broker that received a secret compromise on the world’s most sophisticated satellite surveillance system. When the creators of the program are killed and a senator that helped him to make a deal with foreign countries for the program is killed, his involvement is revealed and he is sent to prison for 16 years. He takes his secrets with him.
Fast forward several years and one president is going out of office while a new one is coming in. The outgoing president grants a last-minute pardon to Backman after receiving enormous pressure from a CIA official and they secretly smuggle him out of the country. An elaborate plan is created by the CIA to eventually leak Backman’s whereabouts to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese and Saudis. Their plan is not for him to survive but to see who ultimately kills him.
The CIA places him in Italy. The plot is a thick one and involves interaction of agents and local people to teach him the Italian language and way of life in the hope of convincing him that he will live his life here. When he becomes suspicious and ultimately realizes that his life is in danger from his own government, he makes a plan of his own to get out of the country and ultimately back to the US with the help of his son and by out-witting his trackers.
This is a real page-turner. While reading you realize that Joel Backman was not a good man. He was a greedy selfish person. However, after spending 6 years in prison and on the run for his life, he realizes what a waste his past life has been and ultimately does the right thing for his country and himself.
This is one of Grisham’s older novels but if you haven’t read it, it is worth the read. And if you have read it before, you may want to give it another look.