Excerpt: 'The Broker'

"He may not," Teddy answered. "But he's been in solitary confinement for six years. That's twenty-three hours a day in a tiny cell. One hour of sunshine. Three showers a week. Bad food -- they say he's lost sixty pounds. I hear he's not doing too well."

Two months ago, after the landslide, when Teddy Maynard conceived this pardon scheme, he had pulled a few of his many strings and Backman's confinement had grown much worse. The temperature in his cell was lowered ten degrees, and for the past month he'd had a terrible cough. His food, bland at best, had been run through the processor again and was being served cold. His toilet flushed about half the time. The guards woke him up at all hours of the night. His phone privileges were curtailed. The law library that he used twice a week was suddenly off-limits. Backman, a lawyer, knew his rights, and he was threatening all manner of litigation against the prison and the government, though he had yet to file suit. The fight was taking its toll. He was demanding sleeping pills and Prozac.

"You want me to pardon Joel Backman so you can arrange for him to be murdered?" the President asked.

"Yes," Teddy said bluntly. "But we won't actually arrange it."

"But it'll happen."

"Yes."

"And his death will be in the best interests of our national security?"

"I firmly believe that."

Excerpted from "The Broker" by John Grisham. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright © 2005 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.

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