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The Organ Broker

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  293 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The Organ Broker is the gripping story of an underground black market organ dealer known as “New York Jack.” For eighteen years Jack has been a “transplant tourism director,” sending wealthy Americans and Europeans in need of kidneys and other organs to third world countries where they would buy them from transplant centers on the take. The death of a client and a newfound ...more
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Arcade
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Stu Strumwasser Thanks for writing, and I understand your concern. Many of them are, because the book hasn't come out yet so the only people who've read it are mostly…moreThanks for writing, and I understand your concern. Many of them are, because the book hasn't come out yet so the only people who've read it are mostly personal friends and advisers of mine. That said, those are legit reviews from those people who did, in fact, read the manuscript or advance copies of the book. Your concern is clearly justified and I think it's fair to say that they are biased, but those were their opinions. Then again, yesterday, a giveaway winner posted this:
"Mar 28, 2015Renee rated it 5 of 5 stars
I received this book from Good Reads. This book was sure different then any I usually read but what a great read it was. I really enjoyed it!!!" Once the book is released (May 5th) and more people (who aren't my buddies) read it I assume that the ratings may slip, but I do think that I've written a good book, that is unique, utilizes powerful and poetic prose, and also addresses an underlying socio-political issue of great importance. I hope you'll give it a chance with an open mind, and I appreciate you taking the time to write. -Stu(less)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  293 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
“There is no shortage of organs; there is only a shortage of organs in America.” The antihero of Strumwasser’s first novel finds organs on the international market and sells them for huge profits to Americans on transplant waiting lists. With snappy dialogue and a lovable hustler protagonist, The Organ Broker explores ethical ambiguities in an absorbing plot.

(See my full review at Foreword.)
Read all my reviews on

I do feel a bit like the odd one out with this book, seeing as it has almost all 5-star reviews, but despite the fact that I didn't think it was a bad book at all, I wouldn't give it the full 5 stars.

It started really good, I was immediately curious to find out what was happening, and most of all why he wanted to dispose of his partner. Near the end the story lost me a little bit, it also felt a bit too long since I guessed what was goi
 Reading Reindeer Cobwebbed
Review: THE ORGAN BROKER by Stu Strumwasser

THE ORGAN BROKER is a gripping contemporary novel with a solid factual foundation. As the author explains, the shortage of legally available transplants is horrible, and consequently the black market for organs thrives ( and undoubtedly, some illegal brokers are yanking in money because of it--think of the money made during Prohibition in the U.S., but on a grander and global scale).

I really enjoyed this novel and anticipate more from this author. Surp
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, political, medical
Chilling and eye-opening, it's hard to believe that something this disturbing can be happening this very second. The Organ Broker offers insight into one of the most shocking and frightening items on the black market - human body parts, sometimes taken from unwilling donors and given to rich first-world recipients. Definitely much scarier than anything by Stephen King or Dean Koontz! O_o
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The Organ Broker” by debut novelist Stu Strumwasser takes the reader into uncharted waters. The book describes the life of New York Jack, a black-market organ broker who buys organs from poor sellers in Africa and South America, operating secretly for years, until his partner asks him to get a heart—which would require a murder. This is an awesome book which is both exciting and a literary accomplishment. I urge readers of good fiction to get this book.
Hannah Anderle
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I didn't expect this book to make me cry but it did. It is interesting, and unlike any other book I've read. The topic of the organ black market is unique in and of itself and that kept me hooked. It was a very enticing thriller and worth reading! I read this book for free through Goodreads First Reads
Eric Skae
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Organ broker is a great read that will keep you engaged throughout. Stu Strumwasser does a masterful job of letting the reader feel the inner conflict going on within the main character, New York Jack, while bringing to light a major issue of illegal organ transplants.
Rachel Sexton
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Stu Strumwasser’s novel “The Organ broker” is a breakthrough first novel that is both terrifying and beautifully-written, an unusual combination. There are thrills, great sentences, and deep philosophical questions posed. I read a lot and I loved this book.
May 25, 2015 added it
Shelves: dnf, 2015
I wanted very much to like this book, but the writing was terrible. After 50 pages I couldn't handle it anymore so I put it down. The organ trade is fascinating subject matter but this author's style of writing was too dumb downed for me. Skip it.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from Good Reads. This book was sure different then any I usually read but what a great read it was. I really enjoyed it!!!
Jim Gleason
as reviewed by Steve Okonek:
“Like it always does, making any form of goods or services illegal instantly creates a black market for it. Such is the case with the organ transplant industry.” This is the underlying premise that fuels Strumwasser’s first gripping novel, a finalist for the Hammet Prize for excellence in crime writing.

New York Jack, a man who turns to the lucrative organ trade after putting himself through law school by dealing cocaine, tells the novel. Sometimes posing as a United
John McKenna
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mysterious Book Report No. 206
John Dwaine McKenna

Are you aware that there are now more than 120,000 patients—folks just like you and me who are on waiting lists for organ transplants in America . . . or that there are three-hundred thousand more on kidney dialysis, but not yet on transplant lists . . . and shamefully, that here in America, twenty people are dying every day from renal (kidney) failure because of a lack of organ donors? The average wait for a donated organ, eighty-five percent whi
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an interesting book and so well written. It flows calmly through rough waters just telling things like they are in Jack's life. His childhood was horrible--he didn't like his chosen occupation as a lawyer. That's when it all started--he had to become a drug seller to pay his way through college. It describes how, as a broker of human organs, mostly livers or kidneys, he truly feels like he is doing some good. He is never totally comfortable and that feeling becomes worse and worse until he ...more
Rosanne Kurstedt
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As the main character, Jack, grapples with his career choices and beliefs about who he really is, Strumwasser's succinct, vivid, and often in your face writing (this is meant as a compliment) immediately got my attention. From New York City to South Africa, Strumwasser took me on a journey into the depths of the organ donor black market (known in the book as "organ tourism"), as well as into the depths of Jack's own psyche. What struck me most about the novel, is that while Jack's life is somewh ...more
Jeff Baum
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Organ Broker is one of the best medical thrillers I have ever read! Strumwasser's detailed development of his characters, from New York Jack on down to the towns people in South Africa, is spot on and made me feel as if I was personally coming in contact with each and every one of them. He also made the story come to life for me, as I sat on the edge of my seat, wondering if this was actually fiction or genuinely taking place around me in real time. I highly recommend this book to any reader ...more
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This very interesting tale follows a black market organ dealer as he decides if two million dollars is worth one last HUGE organ harvest. It will involve the ultimate sacrifice by the potential donor though. Is this crossing the line? Can murder be justified if it saves another's life?

The novel does a great job describing the chain of command in order to provide the wealthy with the organ transplant they need; from the thinly veiled ad in the classifieds to the third world transplant centers tha
Lisa Mills
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medical, thriller
The Organ Broker is about New York Jack. Jack got through college as a drug dealer. He gave that up to be a lawyer. He was a bit bored with that and was intrigued when someone thought his old connections could help him get a desperately needed organ. The book presented disturbing facts about the lack of needed organs. It describes in graphic detail a black market for organs especially kidneys and livers. The reader sees Jack grapple with his conscience after being in the business for quite a lot ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It combines a fast moving plot, interesting (lovable and unlovable) characters, and a thoughtful exposition of the ethics of the organ donor system and its black market counterpart, all without being preachy. While it is a true New York novel in every way, the plot spans continents, giving the story a global canvas and allowing the author to weave together multiple, diverse personalities that intersect to illuminate our genetically programmed quest for continued life, a ...more
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting novel; this story sheds light on the black market for organ transplants. The main character Jack is a very likeable person and you can see how he gradually became more and more involved in this illegal business. The struggle he faces to eventually resolve his guilt and right his wrongs keeps you guessing. Lots of food for thought here - the organ donor system, the morality of paying for organs, the benefits to the recipients, and the potential harm (or not?) to the donors. Well ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autographed
What a very well written thriller! I had the hardest time putting it down because it kept me wanting so much more, buut one does have to get a couple hours of sleep. GREAT BOOK Stu!! I won this great book on GoodReads and like I do with most my wins I will be paying it forward by giving my win either to a friend or library to enjoy.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
SUCH a good book about a relatively unaddressed topic. The reason I didn't give it five stars is that the writing gets a little bit redundant at times. It isn't so bad that it can't be overlooked, and some may even appreciate the review of details, but it just isn't my preference. I'd definitely recommend the read, though.
Scooby Doo
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
DNF 17%
Grim subject matter and not enough plot to grab my interest. Couldn't find a central tension. The protagonist feels guilty? Is that supposed to carry the whole book?
Sissie Helen
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Discussed a definite problem, but had a problem connecting with a man being so disconnected from the reality of what he was doing. Did he have redeeming qualities? I will leave that to the Universe...
Mar 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
I am really surprised by all the 5 star reviews. I honestly was quite bored while reading this. This book had an interesting premise, but for a medical "thriller" there was no suspense or thrill to it at all.
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent first novel, with a sympathetic -- not likable, but sympathetic -- protagonist, a strong story hook, an interesting and original premise and enough suspense to keep you reading through to the last page.

If I have a criticism, it's that the author gave away too much tension towards the end of the novel by suddenly shifting to the present tense, as in "When I play golf with Mark nowadays..." or "These days, Michelle and I..."

Okay, it's written with first person narration, so yo
Stu Strumwasser
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
"Exciting and thought-provoking -- the perfect package." -Lee Child

"Tension and turmoil add up to high stakes suspense in this all too real thriller, about a seedy and sorted world that rings with authenticity. The line between right and wrong is not only smudged, its smeared across the page." -Steve Berry, New York Times # 1 Bestselling author and seller of 19,000,000 books worldwide.

“The Organ Broker is so richly imagined and executed I felt I was reading a memoir, not a work of fiction. Stu S
Mika Larson
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Organ Broker is engrossing from the first to the last paragraph. The subject of organ tourism and the black market is of course fascinating, and Stu Strumwasser creates some very mufti-faceted and likeable characters. The novel is laid out in the form of a letter, where Jack, the main character, is recounting his life story as an drug dealing law student, lawyer and finally an organ broker. The letter is clearly intended to be given to his loved ones at a future date; explaining why he's don ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I was fortunate to win a First Reads copy of this book from Goodreads. Congratulations to author Stu Strumwasser for a gripping first novel. Once you meet New York Jack, you can't put the book down and you can't help but see some likeable traits in Jack despite his "wrong-turn" from his career in law to one as an organ broker. Hopefully, this book will increase awareness about the desperate need for more (legal) organ donors. Great job, Mr. Strumwasser--can hardly wait to read more of your books ...more
Barbara Gould
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Organ Broker: A Novel by Stu Strumwasser

Not just a thriller.
While “The Organ Broker” is unquestionably a thriller, full of suspense, good guys and bad guys, plot twists and even a murder, the writing is poetic and the struggle of New York Jack, the main character, is both epic and reflective of so many people’s personal journeys. This is an amazing book, more valuable, on many levels, than most typical thrillers

Jay! M.
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received a promotional copy from a giveaway and finally got to reading the novel. It's a pretty decent page-turner with a very interesting subject matter (organ brokering, duh) and quite a few twists and turns that get you to the end. I felt not only entertained but educated as well. My only complaint is that the story wasn't a bit longer. But it's a fair book and I would recommend to others.


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Book Promotions: New thriller about a black market organ broker 1 5 Mar 19, 2015 06:06PM  
The Mystery, Crim...: new thriller about a black market organ broker 4 30 Mar 15, 2015 09:34AM  
Who is New York Jack?? 1 2 Feb 28, 2015 08:58AM  
What would you do if you needed a kidney? 1 7 Jan 28, 2015 08:30AM  

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Stu Strumwasser studied creative writing at Cornell University and went on to pursue dual careers on Wall Street and as a musician. Stu was the founder, drummer and primary songwriter in the well-regarded indie rock band Channeling Owen in the 1990s (see picture and songs below). He also continually honed his craft as a writer of socially-relevant fiction.

In 2006 Stu left Wall Street and founded S

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