Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy

As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be a private detective. I ate up mystery books like the candy I would sneak from the cupboard; I wanted to dust everything for fingerprints; my cousin Lee and I opened our own detective agency, and when we didn’t get any business, we made up criminals to catch. So when I picked up Eamon Javers’s book Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy and learned that it was about corporate spies (which are like the advanced version of the private detective), I was thrilled.

Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy is separated into two parts: the first half focuses on the history of private detectives/spies, and the second focuses on the techniques used by these spies (and, randomly, a little bit about Russian spies). Though both sections were incredibly interesting, the first part was unquestionably my favorite. Javers travels through history, focusing on a particular group of spies or a certain incident in each chapter of the section. The chapter that drew my interest the most was “The Chocolate War,” which centers on the battle between Mars and Nestle over the safety of the Nestle Magic, a hollow chocolate ball with a toy in the center. Though I don’t remember the drama over this candy, I do remember buying my share of the “Wonderballs,” and, only a few months ago, wondered what ever happened to them. It was exciting when Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy answered that question.

However, though the subject matter was exciting and engaging, Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy could’ve used another draft. Its organization was weak, jumping from chapter to chapter without transition, and, at times, it was difficult to keep track of the people Javers was talking about. Also, aside from the “spy” part, I don’t see how the title fits the book.

That being said, I still recommend Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy if you are interested in corporate espionage. Despite the weaknesses in the structure and writing of the book, I’m glad I read it. I give it a 3/5, and it almost got a four.


  1. "As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be a private detective."

    So are you pissed at Caroline and Thalia for living your dream while you had to hang out with a Magic Hobo?