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I also agree with CZ75's comments about this book. Having read many of John Grisham's earlier books, I was very disappointed with this one & wonder if he is losing his touch or if this book is just "one off ". The historic details ( ie. the Bataan Death March) were very interesting & well researched but the story ends abruptly (as if the author had run out of ideas for a more satisfying conclusion). In my opinion, not one of John Grisham's best efforts.
I've always enjoyed his books but this one was an exercise in slogging my way through it. The ending was , " really ??? that's the big secret? yawn... "
I love John Grisham. Reading this book was like sitting on the porch listening to a friend tell you a good story. A little lengthy but worth it. It definitely have that Ford County feel.
First Grisham book ever read. Will read more despite this book. Impression was one of an author trading on his reputation, but not writing with passion. Middle of book detailing the horrors of war/courage of war is enough reason for me to pick up another Grisham book. The underlying stereotyping and one dimensional characters of both the whites and blacks in the novel was uninspired writing.
Wow there are a lot of negative comments about this book but I thought it was worth the read. I found the first section a little slow but I kept going. The second section had the main character, Pete Banning, leaving his home to fight in WW11 in the Philippines. It describes the horrors the Americans and Filipinos endured during that time. However, it seemed to have little to do with the story itself unless it was to provide the reader with a better understanding of the emotional state of Pete Banning. The third section was the build up to uncovering the secret and it wasn’t revealed until the very end.
One of the most depressing stories I've ever wasted my time on. Would NOT recommend it.
Not a good read. Stay away.
Read "Educated " by Tara Westovover instead.
I agreed with CZ75 . . . only interesting part was about the Bataan march. Grisham gets too involved with the boring legal proceedings (as in all his novels). Much skimming was required in order to get through this. Disappointing ending as well.
I always have high expectations when I pick up a new book by John Grisham. I was quite disappointed with The Reckoning. I feel like I wasted a lot of my time following the mundane lives of the characters in this book as they dealt with the aftermath of a murder committed by their father/brother/boss. The second part of the book was interesting, i.e. the events surrounding Bataan Death March, but the rest was so-so. The motives for the killing are revealed in the very last pages, and the ending was mostly a letdown.
John Grisham gets self-indulgent.
Well, after publishing close to 3 dozen adult novels (as separate from his YA kid-lawyer series), Mr. Grisham can do whatever he wants, it seems.
Grisham's not the first novelist to play fast-and-loose with either (1) good writing, (2) plot structure or (3) length. He's got lots of company, including Ken Follett. Prime evidence: A Column of Fire, a meandering, crudely written mega-book--900+ pages--that boasts over 3,000 Amazon "reviews." It's a sad come-down for those who really appreciated Follett's first novels (Eye of the Needle, The Man From St. Petersburg, Lie Down With Lions and even the more recent Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.) He USED to be so good...
Grisham's major fault here: right slam-bang in the middle of this mystery, we get a 10-chapter, 100-page flashback digression (or, as publishers put it, "back story") that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the plot. Not one single thread ties a main protagonist's past to the present-day of this southern small-town murder mystery. None whatsoever.
Not that the long "aside" isn't interesting. It is; I now know more about WW II in the Philippines than I ever did before, and certainly thought ever I'd learn in a book about the point-blank shooting of a Methodist minister, in 1946.
And the ending? Well, it's...shall we say, anti-climactic. Ho-hum. And life goes on...
Well-written? Absolutely. Well researched? Yes: Grisham makes sure we know where he got his wartime detail. Also where he got the idea for the book's (main) story. I don't really fault Grisham here as much as I fault his editor, who should have dropped the manuscript, picked up the phone and shouted down the line, "John, I just finished the book. That's IT?? It's time to rewrite, my friend!"
But when the "friend" is a literary giant...hmm, maybe not.
Nobody, it seems, is telling Follett how to improve his overblown books these days, either. 3,000 Amazon reviewers? That's nothing. This book: over 4,600! Instead, when Grisham picks up, the Editor gushes: "LOVE it, John, and thanks for the opportunity to publish!" (And make oodles of bucks...)
But, dear reader, if you want a mystery to leave you wide-eyed and and going "Wow!" This ain't the one.
Sad to say, likely my last John Grisham book. I have loved most of his previous books--up until 4 books ago, they were usually fantastic, and hard to put down. But it's probably over for me, and most of the reviews I read were also not positive, and wondering if it's the end of the line (after 40 books, that's still amazing).
This one started out great--a typical Grisham law and courtroom-dominated tale. But then Grisham goes off on a tangent that goes on far, far too long--and the ending is thoroughly unsatisfying, with a "twist" that I suspected about 300 pages before.
Not much to add here with all the other comments. For me, it was a good read. Grisham's works alternate between good triumphing over evil, and the pervasiveness of evil triumphing. This work falls in the middle of that spectrum. Nothing is done right by the characters, and life is full of disappointments. I admired the all too brief story about the Bataan Death March, where evil did not prevail. While I would rather read a rollicking courtroom drama with a triumph over evil, The Reckoning suffices for me.
I think this is definitely a departure for Grisham, reads more like historical fiction than legal thriller. I thought the Bataan Death March part was heart wrenching and I found the ending sort of anticlimactic.
I think this is the best book that he has ever written. Those of us who were familiar with the Bataan March will come away with a new appreciation regarding how much our military suffered. I was kept in suspense until the very end. Those of you who are not familiar with the Bataan March should read this. It had to be the lowest point of the US military and those who should were responsible. Also, he had references he used.
JG really hit bottom with this one. It was a struggle to finish it. It was incredibly boring. I just plowed through it to find out the reason for the killing. In his recent books, JG is obsessed with presenting his political views. Not only does he insist on bringing up racism in the South in the 40s (We all know it existed) but he emphasizes his anti death penalty views by describing in gruesome detail the bodily reactions to being electrocuted. This will probably be my last JG novel.
If you are on the waiting list for this book, I would get off of it. It could be cut in half and still be too long. I didn't read the second part of the book (cherry picked a couple parts so I could keep up with the family at home.) Finally got the third par and the ending was terrible. Don't waste your time, find another book to read instead of this one.
Although I enjoyed the book - even the quite graphic 2nd part about Pete Banning's trials during the war in the Philippines (where I grew up) - it dragged on a bit. The ending, albeit with an interesting twist, was predictable and anticlimactic, and it took a long time to get there. In fairness, there is a certain amount of suspense all the way to the conclusion, but, again, it took a long time to get there for too little satisfaction.
Pete, the primary protagonist in the first two parts, is not a likable person, although you want to like him, primarily because of his army service. His family is a shambles, a product of his misdeeds and inability/ unwillingness to communicate. His willingness to sacrifice his life and the happiness/ stability of his family is never really fully justified.
I can't justify a higher rating than 3 of 5, but I don't agree with the numerous 0- and 1-star ratings. It is well-written, but ultimately somewhat disappointing. If you're looking for a starting point for Grisham novels, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
Only reason I finished this book is because it was the only audiotape I had on a long car trip. Very disappointing. Usually enjoy Grisham's courtroom scenes and dialogue but not this time. Predictable and boring
A woman's refusal to tell the truth resulted in a murder committed by a World War II POW whose family was notified that he had been captured, missing and presumed dead BY MISTAKE. It was unfortunate that the truth did not come out until the very last chapter, making the reading experience less palatable as a thriller/mystery though the story centered on a murder. Unlike some of JG's recent books that are on current events as coal mining, human trafficking, Tappacola Nation casino (corruption), this book is on the hellish conditions of an old war and the social life dictated by the Methodist Church in the 1940s. (One of his earliest novel, the 1991 The Firm is on organized crime.)
In Author's Note, Grisham provided his source of inspirations for this novel, a true mystery and the Bataan Death March. (see Quotes.)
I was on the wait list for months until I finally got a copy of this book and I was looking forward to reading it. It started out slow and I kept waiting for it to pick up. It never did. I slogged through it hoping the ending would justify all the time I put into reading this bookl. It didn't. I am reminded of Herman Wouk's novel "Youngblood Hawke" about a writer who, after going a while without publishing anything new, puts out a clearly inferior product in an effort to cash in on his reputation. This is the only reason I can think of for "The Reckoning" to be published.
I would give this book a mixed review - definitely not one of Grisham's best. The story line premise was very interesting and I wanted to find out the "why". However, it was too long winded and slow moving for my taste. The "why" became predictable as the story progressed but, yes, there was a bit of a twist at the end. I found it a sad and disturbing tale on so many levels, revenge, greed, war, cruelty, mistakes, tragedy.
This kept waiting for the story to get interesting but it only got worse and more boring. The long portion about WW2 was completely tangential to the plot. To say the least, the end was disappointing. How did this lemon ever get published?
Story is divided into three parts. Part 1 introduces "Pete" and his family while holding a court proceeding where Pete is charged with murder and popping that reoccurring question of why did this decorated war hero kill the town minister. The true answer is not revealed until the last 5 pages. Part 2 was my favorite as it flashed back to Pete's days during WWII carrying out guerrilla warfare and becoming a POW captured by the Japanese. It was difficult for me to relate to the Banning family as the characters were not very well developed and for that reason I may suggest reading part 2 before part 1 (I'm guessing the publishers struggled with which part to kick off the novel). Grisham's courtroom setup and dialogue has been better in his other books and often times dragged on whereas I'd have preferred more in depth and story line surrounding Pete's children or Liza (Pete's wife) before she was committed to a treatment facility.
The middle section about WW2 was very well written but the rest of the book is just dull with an ending that was boring.