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
I have enjoyed SO MANY Grisham books that he is on my "read anything he publishes" list...however this one could and should be avoided.
This novel was incredible! This is one of my favorite John Grisham’s novels since A Time to Kill. It was a powerful story with so much mystery right up to the end. I could not right for the secrets to be revealed, and they were not exactly what readers would predict. I seriously enjoyed this book to the point of losing sleep over it. I would have read in one day if my schedule would have permitted. It was that good!
My quick and simple overall: mystery and an incredible story with intriguing characters. A really great standalone novel!
I hated this book. It was racist, sexist, and most damningly - boring. The way Grisham talked about the black characters was condescending and the way he talked about Mary Ann was both racist and sexist. The reasons behind the crime were obvious and boring. If Grisham wanted to write a book about the horrors of the Pacific theater during World War II he should've just written that book, but those chapters merely served to point out the lack in substance in the rest of the book. I don't have sympathy for a family losing their land because their patriarch committed murder and I don't have sympathy for someone who planned a murder and refuses to divulge a motive to help their family understand.
I've loved some of Grisham's past work and this was so bad that it makes me suspect that I was wrong to have enjoyed his writing ever!
I read an e-ARC through NetGalley.
Yes, I admit that I've been faithful to Grisham for years, and yes, I was rewarded again .... The Reckoning is a novel very much different from what I expected BUT once I started reading, I couldn't put this book down. I immensely enjoyed the story but I'm especially grateful to Grisham for remembering the plight of the American soldiers during the war in the Pacific .....
The 1940's was a very dark time in our world, so why do authors keep going back to it? I believe it's because in darkness there are stories that need to be told, and that it's not a morbid fixation or nostalgia but rather an attempt to share with readers the voices and tales left behind. John Grisham does this perfectly by giving us a vivid and realistic portrait of the Jim Crow south, and one man haunted by the ghosts of his past. We often like to mask the harsh realities of war, terrorism and genocide, hiding it beneath patriotism and gung-ho enthusiasm. In the age of the internet we no longer bother to hide such things, but in the 1940's Pete Banning's stories as a POW and the things he went through during the Bataan death March in the Philippines are slowly revealed during a lengthy and harrowing trial.
It wouldn't be a John Grisham novel without a court case and a lawyer, but in The Reckoning, he makes it clear that this is Pete's story. Readers learn of a man's life and the toll it takes on a person when their secrets are hidden away, whether it's the trauma of war or the shame and stigma of a mentally ill spouse back in the days when mental illness was a thing still stuffed away in gothic asylums so we didn't have to look at it in a gentile, polite society. Why though would Pete choose to shoot his pastor of all people? The mystery behind that is even more interesting.
This tragic and deep story isn't your typical legal thriller, nor is it just another copycat of To Kill A Mockingbird. In many ways it reminded me of some episodes in my favourite TV series, the CBS drama Cold Case, in the way it explores war, mental health and frustration in earlier eras. Grisham sets the scene flawlessly and makes the story genuinely feel like a 1940's tale, but not in a way that's too sentimental or rose-coloured.