The Broker Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Broker.
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The Broker Summary & Study Guide Description

The Broker Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Broker by John Grisham.

The Broker is another legal thriller by bestselling author John Grisham. In this novel, Joel Backman was sent to jail six years ago for illegal possession of military documents. Backman was a powerful lawyer who often brokered deals between his clients and the United States government. His downfall was brought about by three young Pakistani men who discovered nine secret high tech satellites and then created a computer program that allowed them to take control of the satellites. The CIA wants to know who the satellites originally belonged to. The head of the CIA, Teddy Maynard, believes the best way to find out what Backman refuses to reveal is to have him pardoned from jail, relocated to a foreign country, release his location to the top three suspects, and sit back to see who kills him. However, Maynard underestimated Backman's will to survive. The Broker is a novel filled with espionage and danger, one that will satisfy Grisham fans and newcomers alike.

President Arthur Morgan is in the final hours of his presidency, spending those hours trying to decide to who he should grant pardons. Morgan refuses to receive bribes from one criminal, unable to stomach the man's crime. Morgan knows that his presidency was impressive only for the overwhelming loss in his bid for reelection, so he sees the pardons as a way to redeem some of his self respect. However, when Teddy Maynard, head of the CIA, comes to see him, President Morgan is shocked at his request. Maynard wants Morgan to pardon Joel Backman, a Washington broker who went to jail six years ago in a sensational case involving high tech satellites and accusations of treason. Maynard explains that Backman never confessed to what he knew about the satellites, but the CIA would still like to know who the satellites belonged to. Maynard would like to have Backman released so that he might release his location to the top three suspects and see who kills him first.

Joel Backman is miserable in his jail cell, but does not expect his cruel treatment to improve. Therefore, Backman is surprised when he is dragged out of his cell in the middle of the night and informed that he has been granted a full presidential pardon. However, in order to accept the pardon, Backman must agree to a relocation program designed to protect him from his powerful enemies. Backman quickly agrees. Backman is placed on a military transport plane and taken to Italy, where he spends a day in the hospital. Attempts are made to drug Backman for questioning, but Backman refuses to take any medication or food from the hospital staff. Out of frustration, the CIA moves Backman out of the hospital and to a small hotel where his new life is set to begin.

Backman is given the new name of Marco Lazzeri and told that Marco is a Canadian citizen whose parents were Italian. Marco has decided to relocate to Italy to get to know his roots. To make this more believable, Backman is paired with Luigi, a mysterious handler who instructs Backman on how he should dress, eat, and behave in public. Luigi also arranges for Backman to begin an intensive study of Italian with a young student named Ermanno. Luigi warns Backman that he must become proficient in Italian as quickly as possible because he will be left on his own in a matter of months.

Backman, who is thrilled to be out of prison, studies hard and enjoys his few moments of solitude. After a week, however, Backman is whisked out of this small town and moved to the larger community of Bologna, when Robert Critz, President Morgan's friend and assistant, is murdered in London. Luigi warns Backman that this murder could be related to his own pardon and that the danger has just increased. Backman is given a small apartment in Bologna and the freedom to explore the city as he likes. Backman meets a law professor at a local café on one of his first mornings in Bologna, making his first friend since going to jail.

As Backman continues his lessons most mornings, he finds himself drawn more and more to the city. Backman often requests that his lessons take place on walks through the city so that he can explore. When alone, Backman often walks for hours, exploring the history and the beauty of his adopted city. A request for money allows Backman to buy himself new shoes and a slicker that takes away from Luigi his ability to track Backman through the transmitter in his shoe. However, Luigi finds it easy to follow Backman on foot and uses the spy equipment in his own apartment to follow Backman's comings and goings.

When the new semester starts at the university, Ermanno wants to return to school, so another tutor is hired to help Backman with his studies in the afternoons. This tutor is a woman close to Backman's age whose husband is dying of cancer. Backman finds this woman fascinating, giving his life a new purpose that was missing before. At the same time, Backman uses his new friend at the university to receive a package from his son containing a cell phone that will allow them to communicate without Luigi being aware. With this phone, Backman is able to learn a few things important to his future plans.

Backman is confronted one morning by agents from the FBI. Frightened for his safety, Backman makes a run for it. Backman travels to a new town, but quickly discovers that without a passport he cannot even rent a hotel room. Backman returns to Bologna and asks Francesca for help. Francesca gives Backman her husband's passport. With that passport, Backman is able to travel to Zurich, where he recovers some cash he has hidden in a bank there as well as four disks that contain the computer program JAM his Pakistani clients created in order to control nine high tech satellites they accidentally discovered.

Backman flies to Washington DC. Even while he has both Chinese and Iraqi killers on his trail, Backman sets a meeting with officials from the Pentagon to turn over the JAM disks in exchange for them calling off the killers. The exchange is arranged and Backman is given what he wants. The following day, Backman meets with a reporter to whom he tells he plans to start a new firm in order to make his enemies think he will remain in Washington. Backman then returns to Italy where he hopes to continue his friendship with Francesca.

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