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The Broker

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by John Grisham

What a daunting thing it must be to have your first novels be such masterful, international bestsellers that millions around the world hang on your next word. And then there you are, sitting at an old word processor, trying not to let them down. I try to empathize with authors like John Grisham and the pressure they must feel after blockbusters like The Firm and The Pelican Brief.

You can probably tell that I'm warming up to tell you that Grisham's newsest bestseller, The Broker, is not as good as The Firm. It's not. But it is reminiscent of that earlier work. I'll give Grisham this - he is a master at writing the chase.

The Broker begins with the final hours of a presidency as the outgoing commander and chief is deciding whether or not to pardon a notorious Washington power player known as The Broker. At the urging of the CIA, Joel Backman is pardoned for no other reason but to see who will try to kill him.

Tbe premise is good. The character of Backman is good - not great, but good. The creative conclusion is good. My complaints about this novel are two-fold: 1) while I enjoy the tour through Italy, it feels like Grisham was there when his deadline neared so he wrote what he was looking at, and 2) I want to be surprised as a reader. I want to gasp when I'm reading a thriller, like I did with The Firm, but this doesn't quite get me there.

Comfort food to be sure, but a little smaller of a serving than I would have liked. I give a lukewarm thumbs up to John Grisham's newest bestseller, The Broker. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I'm Amanda Dickson.

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