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 that Backman, in his power broker heyday, may have obtained secrets that would compromise the world’s most sophisticated satellite surveillance system.
Backman is quietly smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plan, 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’s no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is: who will kill him?
“I’ve been locked in a small cell about the size of this apartment for six years. You can’t expect me to stay here. There’s a vibrant city out there. Let’s go explore it.”
This was a gripping read; I could not put this book down. The characters were interesting and the storyline hooked me from the first page. Although Joel Backman was not a particularly nice man, you can’t help but feel sorry for him. To have so many people want to kill you…well, the danger he was in was palpable. And, as the story unfolded, I found myself rooting for him, the person he was long forgotten for the man he had become.
I liked how Joel Backman’s transformation into Marco Lazzeri was depicted in the book. Another clever turn was including Marco’s language lessons in the narrative so not only does he have to be immersed in the language and culture of his new home, but the reader is too. And, it’s been years since I have spoken Italian, so this served as a bit of a test to see how much I could remember before checking it over with the translations that immediately followed.
The book is well researched and the settings, especially the main attractions of the towns Marco is confined to, are described in detail. It was an easy read, one I could easily get lost in.
All-in-all, a thoroughly entertaining thriller that I struggled to put down.