The Reckoning

The Reckoning

October 1946, Clanton, Mississippi Pete Banning was Clanton, Mississippi's favorite son--a decorated World War II hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church. Then one cool October morning he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed his pastor and friend, the Rev...

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Title:The Reckoning
Author:John Grisham
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Reckoning Reviews

  • Cody | codysbookshelf

    The latest novel by John Grisham,

    (release date October 23), is a sprawling and enthralling read set in the Ford County of

    ,

    , etc. By setting this story of murder and Gothic-esque family drama in the county most familiar to longtime Grisham readers,

    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

    The latest novel by John Grisham,

    (release date October 23), is a sprawling and enthralling read set in the Ford County of

    ,

    , etc. By setting this story of murder and Gothic-esque family drama in the county most familiar to longtime Grisham readers,

    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:

    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

    was a slick crowd pleaser,

    is a raw challenge . . . one of which William Faulkner, perhaps, would be a fan.

  • Beata

    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 .....

  • Matthew

    4.5 to 5 stars

    This was the most epic and intricate novel Grisham has released in quite some time. It's a mixture of legal drama and historical fiction that keeps you guessing until the very last page. Most of his recent books have been fairly quick reads with a basic storyline. The Reckoning is anything but basic or quick.

    If you are into Grisham mainly for his legal dramas, I think the historical fiction may distract you too much. If you are really into historical fiction, you may not be patient

    4.5 to 5 stars

    This was the most epic and intricate novel Grisham has released in quite some time. It's a mixture of legal drama and historical fiction that keeps you guessing until the very last page. Most of his recent books have been fairly quick reads with a basic storyline. The Reckoning is anything but basic or quick.

    If you are into Grisham mainly for his legal dramas, I think the historical fiction may distract you too much. If you are really into historical fiction, you may not be patient enough to get through the legal stuff to get to the World War II story. But, if you are a fan of both, you will get the best of both worlds; the first third is legal, the second third historical, and the last 3rd brings it all together.

    Note on the content: the story takes place during and post WWII with narrative taking place in both the American South and the Pacific Theater. Grisham wrote it to keep true to the attitudes and the dialogue of the time period. This means that some words and opinions are controversial and could be upsetting. If you are okay with prose content being raw for the sake of realism, you should be fine. But, if you think this might make you uncomfortable, approach with caution.

    This was an enthralling reading experience and one of the best I have had with Grisham. It's great, unique storytelling that I believe lots of book fans will enjoy.

  • Diane S ☔

    4+. It has been a while since I have read a Grisham. Not sure why, but I can say I'm glad this is one I read. It combined my many book loves, a legal story, a mystery, which is really at the heart of this book, and a look back to a terrible time in history. It is the 1940' in the Jim Crow south, a farmer whose large farm has been passed down through generations, Pete Banning does what he needs to do for the immediate future. He then walks over to the Methodist Church and shoots the Pastor three

    4+. It has been a while since I have read a Grisham. Not sure why, but I can say I'm glad this is one I read. It combined my many book loves, a legal story, a mystery, which is really at the heart of this book, and a look back to a terrible time in history. It is the 1940' in the Jim Crow south, a farmer whose large farm has been passed down through generations, Pete Banning does what he needs to do for the immediate future. He then walks over to the Methodist Church and shoots the Pastor three times. Why? He has no intention of saying, no explanation, no excuses. His wife had been committed to a mental institution the year before, his two grown children away at their respective schools.

    So that is the mystery, and of course the court case. We then follow him back to the war, and the Bataan death March in the Philippines. Hard to read, but well researched, well written, the merciless Japanese and Bannings time in the military. Too many he became a hero. There is one part near the beginning that was very emotional, he was loved by many.

    This was a book I couldn't put down, it just pulled me into the story of this family, and of course I needed to know the why. So,even though I don't always fsvor narratives that go back and forth, here I can't see this story working any other way. It truly has a little of everything, plus a family that one can't help but embrace, and a man who makes a decision feeling he has no other choice. In this book I feel as though Grisham has out done himself.

    ARC from Doubleday.

  • Matt

    John Grisham continues his long-running string of novels with another piece that offers some unique legal discussions. Pete Banning is a well-respected white farmer, a war hero, and an all-around amiable man around Clanton, Mississippi in 1946. This is why it is so troubling when Banning walks into the office of black Methodist minister Dexter Bell and shoots him dead. Banning refuses to elude the authorities and will not speak about the crime. Going through the motions of a trial, but choosing

    John Grisham continues his long-running string of novels with another piece that offers some unique legal discussions. Pete Banning is a well-respected white farmer, a war hero, and an all-around amiable man around Clanton, Mississippi in 1946. This is why it is so troubling when Banning walks into the office of black Methodist minister Dexter Bell and shoots him dead. Banning refuses to elude the authorities and will not speak about the crime. Going through the motions of a trial, but choosing not to offer a formidable defence, Banning is found guilty and sentenced to death. After a few delays, Pete Banning’s day with the electric chair is set. Banning is executed while his adult children and some other family are left with more questions than answers. After a thorough flashback depicting Pete Banning’s life and time in the Pacific arena during World War II, it is back to the late 1940s, where Joel Banning is trying to hold down the fort as the new man of the household. His mother, Liza, has been in an institution since before Pete’s death, another mystery that no one can answer. With wrongful death suits circling around the estate, Joel juggles his legal studies with trying to dig a little deeper to understand why Pete Banning might have felt the need to kill Dexter Bell. There are some loose ends that do not make much sense, but the Bell family remains focussed on punitive damages. With everything up in the air, Joel Banning watches all he has known circle the drain in a family mystery that no one seems able to decipher. Another great Grisham piece that develops slowly and will take a dedicated reader to finish. Recommended for fans of Grisham’s ‘southern legal matters’, though it is apparent that the novel has significant filler sections to pad its length.

    I have long been a fan of John Grisham’s work, which approaches the law and courtroom matters from unique perspectives, investing the responsibility in the reader to piece the larger narrative together. That being said, some of his latter work seems to stuff a great deal of information that dilutes the legal arguments with too much backstory. Pete Banning plays a key role throughout the novel, with his development arising through significant backstory recounting in the middle portion of the book. Leaving his family to wonder what happened to fuel his need to commit capital murder, Banning’s life story comes to life when he is a POW in the Philippines, where Grisham offers a detailed narrative that keeps the reader enthralled. The latter portion of the novel shifts much of the focus on Joel Banning, legal mind and amateur sleuth. Trying to piece the great family mystery together, Joel seeks to turn over many stones to see what might slither out. The numerous other characters offer some interesting 1940s South flavour to the story, particularly the legal matters that address how a white man can be charged and fond guilty of killing a black man in Mississippi. Grisham is keen on stand-alone novels, though there are usually some interesting stereotypes that emerge throughout. The story in this piece is strong, depicting both the legal issues around race and murder, as well as estates and wrongful death suits. Most interesting of all is trying to determine what might have led Pete Banning to commit the ultimate crime and toss his family into significant distress, which comes together in the final chapter. I will admit that the middle section of the book, that exploring the time Banning spent in the war, presumed death and being tortured, seemed to be a great deal of drawn out character depiction and backstory. Some have bemoaned its presence in the novel, though I simply wonder if it could have been curtailed to a refined few chapters. While I choose not to spoil this for anyone, that backstory portion does not play into the foundational arguments for the murder he committed. I found the writing to be quite captivating as I pushed through the story in short order. Another Grisham success for those with patience!

    Kudos, Mr. Grisham, for entertaining the reader from the outset. This is a story that will keep the reader thinking throughout as they become enthralled with the detailed writing. I cannot wait for the next piece you have planned.

    Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

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  • William Fluke

    Far From One of Grisham's Best: I typically enjoy anything by Grisham and rate them in the 4 star range most always. The Reckoning fell well short of what I would expect from Grisham. Most disappointing was that at about 30% of the book reads like an historical fiction account of World War II battles and not something I expected from a read of the book jacket - or a typical Grisham novel. While there is legal challenge and courtroom storyline- this part of the story had little drama, no surprise

    Far From One of Grisham's Best: I typically enjoy anything by Grisham and rate them in the 4 star range most always. The Reckoning fell well short of what I would expect from Grisham. Most disappointing was that at about 30% of the book reads like an historical fiction account of World War II battles and not something I expected from a read of the book jacket - or a typical Grisham novel. While there is legal challenge and courtroom storyline- this part of the story had little drama, no surprises and an ending to the legal challenge that was obvious from the beginning. Was hoping for a plot twist somewhere to redeem the book, but it never came. This seems like a story that Grisham just put out to meet a publisher's deadline as readers like myself expect more. A few nagging elements also including the fact that the son and daughter in the story refer throughout to their father and mother by first name- Pete and Liza- which seemed odd and out of place with the time and setting for this story. Even if you are diehard Grisham fan, believe you can pass on this one without feeling you have missed anything.

  • Shoshana G

    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 symp

    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.

  • Amiee

    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.

  • Erth

    400 page LONG and drawn out story. Could have been based on a ten page short story by a freshman in community college. Mr Grisham, please bring back your inventive legal thrillers. Severely disappointed.

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