The Reckoningby Published 23 Oct 2018
John Grisham returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to tell the story of an unthinkable murder, the bizarre trial that follows it, and its profound and lasting effect on the people of Ford County.
Pete Banning was Clanton's favorite son, a returning war hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one cool October morning in 1946. he rose early, drove into town, walked into the Church, and calmly shot and killed the Reverend Dexter Bell. As if the murder wasn't shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete's only statement about it—to the sheriff, to his defense attorney, to the judge, to his family and friends, and to the people of Clanton—was "I have nothing to say." And so the murder of the esteemed Reverend Bell became the most mysterious and unforgettable crime Ford County had ever known.
"The Reckoning" Reviews
Thanks a million to @doubledaybooks for this free review copy!
I’m an old school Grisham fan. I absolutely adore all of his older titles, with my very favorite being The Testament. I will never forget listening to that book! His newest book is out on 10.23 and I’m so excited to share with you that The Reckoning not only brings us back to the Grisham of yesterday, but also adds in some absolutely fascinating WWII history about the Bataan Death March in the Philippines that I really had almost no knowledge of. This book sucked me in, kept me guessing, and had me reading about military history with a completely new level of interest.
I wouldn’t classify this newest Grisham so much as a legal thriller as I would call it a grief-filled family mystery/drama with a LOT of legal plot. There were parts that weren’t perfect in my eyes and I wish some things had been done differently in the last quarter of the book, but overall this was a compelling 4 🌟 read for this Grisham fan (since high school!).
If you or a friend or family member are also old school Grisham fans, or love reading about WWII, get your hands on a copy of this book!
A Southern Gothic tragedy about the decline and disgrace of a prominent and respected family who own a valuable plantation in rural Mississippi.
The time is the 1940s and the racial divide affects the social standing and legal justice for the Blacks. There are harsher penalties for blacks than for white citizens charged with crimes. The vast number of executions in the district have been carried out on blacks and the death penalty of a wealthy white man has been unknown. Judges and all white juries are the rule, and the wealth to afford the best defence lawyers is a deciding factor. We get a chilling description of botched hangings and electrocutions.
Pete Banning was a highly respected family man, a successful farmer and war hero. One day he enters the Methodist church which his family attended, and shoots their beloved and popular minister. The mystery and suspense lies in his motive for such a bizarre crime. He refuses to explain his reason to anyone: not his family, not to the judge, jury, his lawyer or the governor. The first section of the book deals with legal maneuvering and the trial.
The second part of the book focuses on Pete’s horrific experiences in the Pacific during WW2. I found this to be the strongest part of the book. Grisham writes vividly showing superb ability to describe the indescribable tortures, illnesses and death. We follow Pete during the Bataan Death March, the deprivation and suffering in a Japanese POW camp, in one of the overcrowded, filthy ships carrying prisoners to Japan for slave labor and finally as a guerrilla fighter in the Philippine jungle. Pete was classified missing and believed dead for 3 years. He returns home to an overjoyed wife, sister and two children after being hospitalized for war wounds and the after effects of dysentery and malaria. The happiness doesn’t last long. He commits his wife to a mental institution and the grown children are forbidden to visit. Then he murders the minister.
The third section of the book shows Pete’s children, now attending college, tied up in a wrongful death suit filed on behalf of the minister’s widow. As the family fortune declines there are several more tragedies. Surely things will be turned around to provide a happier ending. Suspense which sustained the story is finally resolved when the motive for the murder is finally revealed.
I felt the book was longer than necessary. All the legal appeals were informative but caused the plot to move at a snail’s pace. The WW2 flashbacks were the most powerful part of the story for me and which could have been a separate novel. The structure bothered me at first, starting out at the family in their present time (1940s), then flashbacks to WW2 events, and finally a continuation of the characters story. Overall I concluded this format worked well. Definitely not a happy, relaxing read.but it was compelling.
Very interesting and entertaining storyline full of factual information about the Philippians during WWII . The first part of the novel is about a murder and the war storyline is given as background about one of the fascinating characters in this book. John Gresham never disappoints and his in depth research provides factual information about whatever the storyline may be.
John Grisham’s latest, the Reckoning, takes place in rural 1940s Mississippi. World War II veteran Pete Banning wakes up one day, goes about his business as usual and then proceeds to murder in cold blood the beloved preacher of the Methodist church. Pete refuses to tell anyone the reasons behind the killing and he and his family both suffer the consequences. The story also takes us back to Pete’s days as a war hero in the Philippines and also to the insane asylum inhabited by his wife.
I’ve read most of Grisham’s books and I have to say that this was one of my favorites. It is suspenseful right up to the very last page. There are elements of the legal world, typical to Grisham’s works, but there is also some fascinating, if brutal and bloody, history of the Philippines in World War II, something I knew little about. After reading so many Works War II books centered around Nazi Germany, I found this to be a refreshing take. Overall, a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable read recommended to all. 5 stars!
Many thanks to Netgalley, Doubleday books and John Grisham for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The latest novel by John Grisham, The Reckoning (release date October 23), is a sprawling and enthralling read set in the Ford County of A Time to Kill, Sycamore Row, etc. By setting this story of murder and Gothic-esque family drama in the county most familiar to longtime Grisham readers, The Reckoning mixes the pleasures of familiarity with the new, experimental territory upon which the writer embarks. If anything, this novel is certainly not Grisham on auto-pilot.
This will likely be the most divisive Grisham release in some time, if ever. The author playfully mixes up and challenges the courtroom drama standard he set, choosing to tell the story in an almost non-linear fashion. At the heart of this novel is the question: What makes a beloved war hero and successful small-town sharecropper murder his pastor in cold blood? The consequences set in motion by the murder — which happens in the first chapter, and is mentioned in the synopsis — are gritty and cold and real. Grisham’s focus is not so much the legal system (though it does play a part), but the dissolving of two American families.
This reader respects Grisham for shaking things up and penning what could be the darkest, and most literary, novel of his career. I certainly did not see it coming. If 2017’s The Rooster Bar was a slick crowd pleaser, The Reckoning is a raw challenge . . . one of which William Faulkner, perhaps, would be a fan.
Thanks to Doubleday Books for the free hardcover copy of this book, which was given in exchange for an honest review.