Written By: John Grisham

Narrated By: Michael Beck

Date: January 2005

Duration: 11 hours 10 minutes


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?


  • Joseph P.

    This one will grab you in the first 5 minutes and you will not want to leave the car (where I listen almost exclusively). Marco was made real and the twist at the end was very well hidden. Great book.

  • Anonymous

    A great story that keeps you involved and in your car while in parked in your drive way after you returned home.

  • Walter Hamilton

    Enjoyed listening at work and at the gym. The character change by the narrator drew me in more and more.

  • jon robison

    Read the book. Enjoyed listening to it just as much.

  • Anonymous

    Great book. Really enjoyed it. hated the time that I was away from it. Makes hours of riding around a lot more bearable.

  • FMR

    OK book, below par for Grisham, often found myself distracted by other things. As others have said, too much descrptive of Italy, not enough action/suspense. Then it seemed to wrap up very quickly--like the author decided enough, the end. If you absolutely need a Grisham fix, listen to it. Otherwise, spend your time on something more riviting.

  • Anonymous

    This is more an Italian travelogue and Italian-English dictionary than a typical Grisham spy novel. Unless you're traveling to Bologna anytime soon, it's very disappointing - should come with a warning not to listen to it while driving - may cause drowsiness.

  • Anonymous

    Not a fan of this book. Long and drawn out tale about nothing.

  • Kim

    Too much Italy. Not enough story. Thought I was reading Frommers, Italy until 3/4 of the way throught the book.

  • susan

    Love Grisham so The Broker was not a disappointment at all. As usual you get pulled into the intrigue and mystery. One of those where you drive around and around the block to find a good stopping point. I am not fond of this reader. He has read a number of Grisham books.

  • Anonymous

    too long; way too much time spent on details completely unrelated to the core plot. i could have skipped from maybe the 2nd CD to the last, and missed very little action.

  • Joshua Jackson

    I have listened to a handful of Grisham books now and the Broker was one of the weakest. It felt more like an English to Italian language book than a thriller. I love Italy and the depth with which it was explored, but even I found myself bored at times. Plus I felt that I had heard this book in a similar form already. Playing for Pizza is another Grisham book that has an American dropped into the culture of Nothern Italy. Pizza is a much more entertaining listen, and I would suggest that over The Broker.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting, quite a twisted plot that can be a little hard to keep track of. Especially because I listen during my commute and have distractions and had to go back to re-listen when I lost the thread. It was suspenseful.

  • Mary Thiel

    I found this Grisham book to be boring. My copy was missing a cd and it didn't really make a difference. I continued on listening and found I hadn't really misssed much!

  • Matthew Horsfield

    I did like the description of Bologna, but how many times did they drink espresso?? As for the "mystery", what will the CIA learn in who kills him? And what would they do with that information?? It didn't make any sense to me, and the plot was fairly predictable. I don't tend to read much Grisham, and after this, I probably won't read any more.

  • Barbara

    I guess I kept waiting for something to happen to really pull me in, but it never really got there for me. It would probably make a good movie. The movie would be more intense than the book.

  • Anonymous

    Really wonderful story - I highly recommend it! It made me want to travel in Italy. And kept me guessing.

  • Kipp Webb

    Excellent story but you come to expect that from John Grisham. The detail and descriptions of Italy were quite remarkable and the story was layered with intrigue and mystery from beginning to end. I thought the story might have been loosely based on the pardons given out at the end of Bill Clinton 2 terms in office. Whether it was or not, I was captured by the story of The Broker and I would give my highest recommendation on a "must listen" audio book.

  • Ray Shaw

    One of the worst I have tried to listen to. Stopped after 2 of the CD's and returned. One of the most boring Grisham books on record. Don't waste you time.

  • Nell Molloy

    As a some time reader of Grisham's novels, this one held my attention from cover to cover. I really couldn't put it down. The characters were so vividly described and the plot unfolded with suspense interspersed with wit and dark humor. The reader was exception. I look forward to my next Grisham read with much anticipation.

  • Michael Scott

    I'd actually gotten tired of Grisham novels, finding them to be too formulaic. So I've shied away from his works for quite some time. But I decided it had been far too long, so decided to re-intruduce myself to his works with The Broker. Wow - while Clancy he is not, WRT the typical spy novel, I was very surprised by this book, and found myself enjoying it thoroughly. Looks like I need to go find where I left off, and do some catching up.

  • Phil Isis

    Since I can't safely read a book while I'm driving, listening to The Broker made the miles pass smoothly. Sure...the story had some detours from the plot but it keeps the car going down the road...

  • andy h

    It's a shame about this one. I found the plot setup intriguing, and I think it could've made a terrific novella, and still might make a decent movie. It seems almost like Grisham came up with a swell idea, and then just never quite figured out where to go with it. He filled what sounds like 9 out of 10 pages with the main character learning Italian. While this is a very important plot point, the character trying to assimilate a new culture, it overwhelms the book, seemingly to mask the lack of direction. I was interested, but by the end was glad it was over. Great story potential, not so great follow-through. Very good reading by the narrator, though.

  • Pamela Christensen

    What an exciting and interesting story! The book is on 10 CDs and I could have listened to 10 more! I hated when the story ended. Awesome. Lots of intrigue. What a great storyteller Grisham is!

  • Jay Salinger

    I loved this book. I'm fairly new to novels, and this is probably my favorite yet. The plotline was enjoyable and suspenseful. But my favorite part was all the local flavor of Italy that Grisham captured so beautifully. He obviously did his homework (and enjoyed doing it). Makes me feel like I've been there. And as far as this being an audiobook, the reader was amazing. Giving most characters distinct voices and pronouncing Italian so well.

  • Cindy S.

    I really liked this book. John Grisham usually never disappoints and The Broker is no exception. The only reason for the 4 stars is the overabundance of Italian translation in the middle chapters. I couldn't imagine reading this book and trying to cope with the Italian pronunciations. At times it felt like I was listening to a story told through a translator. That, however, is a minor distraction to a well told story that will keep you engaged through to the very end and have you wanting to vacation in Italy in the very near future. PS I could listen to Michael Beck narrate all day every day.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent!!! Couldn't stop listening! At first hard to follow so many charachters but then it took shape and was riveting!!

  • Diane

    Intriguing . . . loved the development of the characters and their agendas, it kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't wait for the next disc. . .

  • Richard Mitchell

    A great book. I have read Grisham before a few times, but this book has made me a Grisham fan and then lead me to several other books by him, it was that good. I could imagine myself in the character's place. I am not a conspiracy type guy, but this book was beleivable. So much goes on that we all really don't know about - even if this is fiction! The detail about Italy makes you feel like making it the destination of your next vacation...

  • Marty

    Loved it! I have yet to meet a John Grisham book that I didn't like, and The Broker is no exception. Enough suspense to keep me interested until the very end. Which brings me to the only reason this book didn't get 5 stars... the end came too soon.. I wanted MORE!!

  • Josefina Dauval

    The Broker was good. Not the most exciting book I've read/listened to, but entertaining.

  • Traci Spahr

    I'm with the other lady. I would say 3.5, so she gave it a 3 and I gave it a 4. : )

  • Anonymous

    This book was pretty good. I'd actually feel 3.5 would be a more accurate score. The plot kept moving forward which kept me interested during my 1-hour one-way commute to work. Would definitely recommend.

  • Miss L.

    This book is ok. I love the reader. The story however drags. Way too descriptive. Some of the description can be eliminated and kept to the story line. I still have the last 5 dics to listen to.

  • Beverly Mausbach

    Classic John Grisham, I really enjoyed it. Loved the setting, made me want to visit Italy! And there was just enough suspense to keep me interested.

  • Aparna Kothari-Mears

    interesting story, but I'd recommend getting the unabridged version.

  • Pamela Pitcher

    This book kept me on my seat the whole time. Love John Grisham!!!!

  • Anonymous

    didn't particularly like this book. too slow Love his first novels, this one is not like his first few.

  • Biolife Technologies

    I like John Grisham and this was a good book. It keeps your interest until the end. What is better than the feeling "I wonder what is going to happen next", well this does that.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting and fairly fast paced, but not as intriguing as some other Grisham books.

  • Sylvia Trammel

    If you are planning a trip soon to Italy, this is a great book. You learn a lot of Italian to go with the story, and you learn about the people and the cityies and the sites. For everyone else, it starts out and continues in typical Grisham style...fast paced, exciting, and then...at the end it just drops off. You'd think you were suddenly reading a different book. It was wrapped up too neatly and way too quickly for me.

  • Bryan Parlee

    Excellent book. It kept my attention from start to finish. I highly recommend it.

  • Anonymous

    The Broker was a fine story, but not a great thriller as it is portrayed to be. Don't expect to be on the edge of your seat, but also, it was pleasant to listen to.

  • Anonymous

    Difficult to make it through the story. 2/3 of the book covers the language lessons and trivial details that repeat themselves. I found myself sorely tempted to not finish the book. Had it not been on tape, I never would have made it through the story. The end had some redeeming qualities but not enough to allow me to make a recommendation.

  • Sabrina Lightfoot

    I thought the storyline was good but it left a lot on unanswered questions and let's face it, the CIA and the FBI would never be that slack!!!

  • Anonymous

    Liked the story, but did not like the Italian lesson. As other reviewers have mentioned, chapter after chapter is just too much! 3 stars only because I liked the story.

  • Tyler Gleason

    If you have liked other Grisham books, this is similar, and you'll like it. If you're new to John Grisham by some phenomenon - start somewhere else. My favorite is the "King of Torts". "The Client" is great too, even if you've already seen the movie (it's different). The book has so much of a focus on the main charachter getting Italian lessons in the first half that it reads like "Learn Italian: Part One" at times. Don't get me wrong, there is enough to keep it interesting, but there is A LOT of italian to english translation. Overall the book was enjoyable however, so I gave it a 4 out of 5.

  • Gary Kuhlken

    I'm a real Grisham kinda guy, but I just can't get behind this book. I eagerly placed the CD in my player, but, when I took it out, I felt like a UN representative. Too many agencies were trying to ice our hero. If you're thinking about ordering this book, I have one word of advice for you--don't do it.

  • Anonymous

    The storyline was good, but if I wanted an Italian lesson I would have paid for it. There was WAY too much Italian (with English translation). All that seemed to do was fill the time. I don't see where it had any effect on the storyline. I get it - he has to learn another language. But chapter after chapter were filled with it. Perhaps if I were reading the book, I could skip those sections, but how far do you skip ahead on an audiobook without missing something important?

  • Donna

    Good story line, but too much filler. Also, there were too many loose ends in the last few chapters. Grisham has done better.

  • Shane Nixon

    Without the author's notes at the end, giving him a licsence for some of what he did, this is a one star read that I don't finish. And those aforementioned author's notes come at the end! The story is not as good as most Grisham plots. There are so many characters getting lost is easier than finding a favorite. And you need to know Italy (and Italiain) for it to work in a couple places. In fact I really got tired of the Italy stuff. Further detracting from this one was the narrator. His FAILED (and boy do I mean failed) attempts at accent, especially his female voices, are just too much. Not worth the two selection take up!

  • Salonge Crenshaw

    Wonderful read. It took a little bit to get into the plot because of the many characters and positions, but once it started, I could not wait to get in the car to finish. I am a major John Grisham fan and this fit the bill.

  • Mary Anne Evo

    My first experience with your club and it was very good. Enjoyed this book very much. Would highly recommend it. Makes driving in the car much more interesting and sometimes I arrived at my destination too soon. I'm now able to join the literary group for reading puts me to sleep and this way I have been able to enjoy some very interesting books. Mystery is my interest and John Grisham is one of my choices.

  • Anonymous

    Simple story, and the usual Grisham. Easy and entertaining read. Greater narrator.

  • Kevin Smith

    Good book. Was a little worried since Grisham books can be hit or miss. This one kept my interest the whole time.

  • Dale Hansen

    The set-up to the story is good, the chase interesting, but the payoff is not really satisfying. I was never sure whether or not I liked the protagonist. I do like Grisham's linear story telling and his clear style, however.

  • Emma Tsai

    I've read a bunch of Grisham and this is by far the most interesting and most complex.

  • Sharon Deaves

    I am a real John Grisham fan, however, the last couple that I read were not up to his standards (in my opinion) however, this was back to the John Grisham I love.!! Great book and great charter development...I recommend it highly.

  • Peg Longano

    Great listening - although the narrator had trouble changing his voice with characters - you still could distinguish between them all. The book left me with the feeling that there should be more ... but a chapter of 2 mens lives had come to closure and would resume again. I wanted more.

  • Anonymous

    John Grisham writes a mystey where you are not knowing where he is taking you. You get entranced listening to his novel. You can picture the story in your head.

  • Kathy Patterson

    I usually LOVE John Grisham, in paper or on audio, but this one was just too hard to follow, even on my boring commute by car. Just couldn't get into it.

  • Anonymous

    Loved the book. The narrator was great. Couldn't put the book down.

  • Suzanne

    I think the clue to the Broker was when the main character dry-labbed his travels to another city to his acquaintance, the professor. This book feels dry-labbed. A map of Bologna, maybe throw in a few cities in Europe, a list of restaurants, a couple of first class cookbooks, a travel guide, a first year Italian textbook. The characters were 2 dimensional, the characterization has been on the march downhill since Time to Kill. I gave it a 2 instead of 1 because I have a brutal commute and it kept me awake waiting for something to happen. I'm still awake.

  • Vicki

    Very good. The story line keeps you guessing what is going to happen next. Used modern technology in the stroy which makes it beliveable. Wanted to just listen to the whole book non-stop.

  • Dan Pressley

    I got sucked immediately into this book. It was extremely well written and immersed me into the depths of the characters. I learned ALOT of Italian while listening to this book. I felt like I was the main character many times. My only complaint was the loss of speed and somewhat quick wrap up at the end. I wanted the book to go a little further and tie up a few more loose ends that I felt I was expected to just assume would work out ok.

  • Jeff Johnson

    I like most books by this author and this was no exception. Kept me interested throughout and I found myself looking forward to getting back in the car.

  • Anonymous

    This book provided a great feeling for what Italy would really be like and kept me in suspense the entire time. Good story, good development, and good ending!

  • Diane Condomitti

    My Favorite Grisham Novel! Good book with a very good plot. Not your typical Grisham but very good anyway. Good story with good characters-- can't wait for the next CD’s to arrive to finish the story. The Broker begins with President Arthur Morgan granting a last minute, controversial pardon to ruined D. C. powerbroker convicted felon Joel Backman,52 . Joel was a former lawyer who went to federal prison after his law firm collapsed after a conspiracy with a spy satellite. Teddy Maynard, CIA director has engineered the release in order to put Joel into a witness protection program and then see who kills him. Many want him dead. Luigi is Joel’s handler. Joel is relocated to Bologna, the story tells of Joel touring that city, its historic sights and its many restaurants, and learning Italian. Joel is learning Italian from a married tour guide Francesca. Joel must learn to hide from assassin’s and make a life for himself in a foreign country.

  • Anonymous

    I love John Grisham books, however I think that the best thing about listening to them is the narrator. The same man who narrated this book also narrated "The Last Juror". His voice is very relaxing.

  • J. Fawley

    I didn't find this as good as other Grisham books

  • Anonymous

    Not the best of Grisham. I know the towns he spoke of in Italy and he clearly loved his time there. I think the story was built to accommodate his trip to Italy.

  • Anonymous

    I hesitated to request this book after reading several of the reviews. But I'm a big John Grisham fan - so I ordered it anyway. WOW! I'm really glad I did. I very much enjoyed this book.

  • Stephen

    What does it take to get a job narrating audio books? Clearly the ability to read in an engaging manner is not a prerequisite. I thought the narrator was bad in the beginning, stumbling through sentences with the most lifeless voice I have ever heard recorded, but when it came time for him to do character voices is when I stopped listening to these CDs. It was literally as if I were listening to a grade school play. Laughable does not begin to describe the narrator's ineptitude at reading a story. I'll finish this book in print. If I could give this audio book 0 stars I would.

  • Nancy Murphy

    This has been the best book of Grisham that I have heard yet. The descriptions of Bologna and Milan are so good that I would really like to visit there. I have been to Italy before and loved it. I never wandered from the tape when it was on and couldn't wait to get back in the car as that's where I Iisten to them. Definitely a recommendation.

  • Lee Werley

    Really enjoyable but long. The reader was good and the story was fine. Overall a good book.

  • Celeste Howard

    I liked this book okay. It kept me interested and wandering how this man could ever sort out his life. It was amazing how I cheered for the "bad guy". It had a lot of Italian in it that made parts difficult to follow, but it was worth the listen.

  • David Gardner

    When I finished this book, my first question was "what's the point?" The action sequences are few and far between. There is an inordinate amount of time spent on all things Italian, especially language lessons. The plot is easy to follow (the good news). The reason it's easy to follow is because nothing really ever happens (the bad news). The best I can say is, I didn't absolutely hate it, but I don't feel particularly enriched after having read it.

  • Donna Gardner

    With an implausable plot and way too much detail on how many expressos the main character had on a daily basis. Language lessons were not want I was looking for when I rented this book. After the first CD, I felt I needed a few expressos myself to keep awake and interested. I do like Grisham and his works are ususally page turners but, something went amiss here.

  • Emma Tsai

    This book was okay. A delve into more interesting topics than the usual Grisham novel and definitely topical with the issues of lobbyists and international affairs. Doesn't move very fast and too many random, brief character introductions. Though the preview of Italy is nice. Also would like a more inside look into the protagonist.

  • Brandi Mabry

    I listened to this book on my way to and from work. I couldn't stand having to turn it off once I arrived because I kept wanting to know what was happening next. I loved the quick lesson in Italian that the story provides. It takes you on a little trip to a beautiful place. The narrator speaks fluent Italian and speaks it beautifully. Great story - I believe much better to listen to than read.

  • Elizabeth Lyon

    This novel was very creative and kept you on the edge of your seat. LOVED the discriptions of Italy.

  • Barbara

    I really enjoy John Grisham but this one moved a little slow at first. It was very interesting but a little slow.

  • Anonymous

    This book was awesome! I couldn't wait to hear more. I loved the rich lauguage also.

  • Anonymous

    Not a great book. The only saving grace were the descriptions of the Italian cities. I kept listening hoping that the book would improve.

  • KD

    This book is not as intense as some of John Grisham's and certainly not in the same vein as "The Firm" or "The Last Juror", but overall it's a good story. There's a fairly simple plot that's quite descriptive with enough action to keep you listening. I enjoyed it.

  • Bandit

    WARNING!!! Reading this book will make you want to move to Italy and live under an assumed name. A very enjoyable book, with a driving plot and enjoyable characters. At times this book was either a little too technical (in the Tom Clancy vein) or romantically descriptive (think John Steinbeck light). I enjoyed the book from beginning to end; I couldn’t stop listening to the last 4 chapters as the book reached its climax. I would recommend this book to anyone with a taste for the foreign locales, or an entertaining spy thriller.

  • Mark Friend

    This book was my first audio book. The reader of the book did an awesome job and made me feel like I was there. Another reviewer mentioned that you need to pay close attention to the character names, or you will loose it (and I totally agree). The ending was a bit lame. Not what I expected. Since this was my first John Grisham book, I am not familiar to his writing style.

  • Anonymous

    As a Grisham fan I was disappointed. It's a good story, but almost a travelogue. It didn't have the suspense that I've come to expect from Grisham

  • Anonymous

    This is a very exciting novel by John Grisham. You will need to pay close attention to the names so you will understand. I enjoyed it.

  • Anonymous

    couldn't get into this book - I never finished it.

  • jo Alexander

    It seems hard to write a review for a book this good, it's easy to beat them up when they are not worth listening to. Listen to this book, it is great, knew it would be good. I really like the narrator's voice. I giveit all the stars you offer.

  • Kelley

    If I could give "The Broker" 3 1/2 stars, I would. The vivid descriptions of Italy were actually quite enjoyable, but I agree that sometimes it felt like I was taking an Italian lesson. A nice plot that kept me wondering how it would all end. The finale could have packed a little more punch, but it was satisfying. Overall, WAY better than listening to the equivalent number of hours of Howard Stern wannabes on the radio!

  • Barbara Lee

    Elvis left the building on this one. Totally unenjoyable. Too many characters, too much jumping around and the story was soooooo boring.

  • Kathleen Ross

    We really enjoyed this book on our long drives. Maybe because we love Italy, but we liked the first half as well as the second. I don't think Grisham is known for his endings (the movie "The Firm" actually improved the ending for example), so I was prepared to be disappointed, but it was actually pretty satisfying. I think this was a fascinating plot with interesting characters and lots of suspense.

  • Anonymous

    Definitely not Grisham's best. Tedious at times. Far less action and plot development than his other works. This book would suffice better as a tour guide to northern Italy or as an "Intro to Italian 101".

  • William Morgan

    I enjoy most of Grisham's works and this was no exception. Maybe not his best, but still worth the listen. I agree with another reviewer that the ending was somewhat lacking, but overall I can't complain. I also thought the reader was excellent.

  • Michael Hilliard

    Good book. Kept me entertained during a long drive.

  • Kim Todd

    I've read a lot of Grisham and this was not the best. At times hard to follow and the CD's I had somehow had the ending on disc 5 so when I got to the end of the book, I had already heard the end.

  • Anonymous

    The Broker was my first Simply AudioBook. It was decent, but not the best John Grisham book I have read. The book was a little slow at times, but still kept my interest.

  • Nicole Orlando

    I listened to the whole first CD and half of the second and I just couldn't get into the story. I sent it back before finishing. You really have to pay attention. There's a lot of characters and it jumps to different scenarios. I agree, not up to Grisham's usual standards.

  • Cyndy

    Great Book!! I listened to it at least twice. The story keeps your interest until the very end.

  • Daniel Wainwright

    The first 80% was very interesting. Reminded me a lot of the cloak and dagger stuff from the Firm. Very enjoyable. The ending was kind of lacking. It seemed like Grisham ran out of steam and the ending was somewhat uninteresting. But the vast majority of the book was a real interesting page-turner.

  • Gloria Toone

    Great Book. I wanted to keep driving to hear the outcome.

  • Anonymous

    Very drawn out plot with little action. Grisham not up to his usual "courtroom" standards.

Broker: A Novel

by John Grisham

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