Joel Backman is "the Broker"- a Washington power broker-lobbyist, considered by some to be one of the most powerful men in Washington. However, his life falls apart when a deal collapses involving a hacked spy satellite that nobody knows about, and Backman ends up in jail. Six years later, the political wheels in Washington have turned and other power-hungry men are eager for his blood. Bargains are made, and after an outgoing disgraced president grants him a full pardon at the behest of the CIA, he finds himself spirited out of the prison in the middle of the night, bundled onto a military plane, and flown to Italy to begin a new life. He has a new name and mysterious new "friends" who will teach him to speak the language and to blend in with the people in Bologna.
However, he soon realizes that something isn't quite kosher in this new setup, in that he is under constant surveillance. In reality, the CIA is setting him up for professional assassins from China, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. They intend to sit back and wait to see who kills him, in an effort to solve the biggest mystery to hit the US government in decades: the question of who built this seemingly impenetrable and most advanced satellite ever. It turns out to be China; despite having low satellite technology, they stole the information from the U.S.
Backman barely survives several assassination attempts and manages to establish communication with his son, Neal. He escapes surveillance and returns to his home to contract a new deal with the US government. The CIA is told about the satellite, along with the taking of the satellite's program. In return, they agree to do what they can to get the countries targeting him to back off, though they caution him that some of them will not listen. Backman then covers his escape by pretending that he is resuming his old life, then quietly disappears, and presumably returns to Italy.