The Reckoning

The Reckoning

A Novel

eBook - 2018
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John Grisham's The Reckoning is the master storyteller's most powerful, surprising, and accomplished novel yet "John Grisham is not only the master of suspense but also an acute observer of the human condition. And these remarkable skills converge in The Reckoning—an original, gripping, penetrating novel that may be his greatest work yet."—David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon 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 Reverend Dexter Bell. As if the murder weren't shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete's only statement about it—to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family—was: "I have nothing to say." He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave. In a major novel unlike anything he has written before, John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete's defense attorney tries desperately to save him. Reminiscent of the finest tradition of Southern Gothic storytelling, The Reckoning would not be complete without Grisham's signature layers of legal suspense, and he delivers on every page.
Publisher: 2018
ISBN: 9780385544160
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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g
gypsymagick
Oct 10, 2019

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... "

m
msgracie
Oct 09, 2019

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.

c
celiawhite99
Oct 01, 2019

Great book
I did NOT guess the ending either!

l
literarygene
Sep 26, 2019

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.

z
Zoelexi777
Sep 18, 2019

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.

g
Goddess
Sep 10, 2019

One of the most depressing stories I've ever wasted my time on. Would NOT recommend it.

u
U1536000355779
Sep 06, 2019

Not a good read. Stay away.
Read "Educated " by Tara Westovover instead.

b
bongodi
Jun 30, 2019

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.

c
CZ75
May 06, 2019

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.

r
richmole
Apr 29, 2019

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.

Bizarre.

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.

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jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

From Author’s Note:
I heard the story of two prominent men living in a small town in Mississippi in the 1930s. One killed the other for no discernible reason, and he never offered a clue as to his motive. Once convicted and facing death by hanging, he turned down an offer from the governor to have his death sentence commuted if only he would divulge a motive. He refused and was hanged the next day on the courthouse lawn while the governor, who’d never witnessed a hanging, watched from the front row.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

From Author’s Note:
Dozens if not hundreds of books have been written about the Bataan Death March. The ones I found and read are all fascinating. The suffering and heroism of those soldiers is difficult to imagine, then or now, some seventy-five years later.
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The Bannings were farmers and landowners, but they were workers, not gentrified planters with decadent lives made possible by the sweat of others.
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To those who knew them, the Bannings were thought to be cold and distant, devoid of warmth and rarely emotional. This was true but not intentional; they had simply been raised that way.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

He was forty-three, and, at least in her opinion, looked older. His thick dark hair was graying above his ears, and long wrinkles were forming across his forehead. The dashing young soldier who’d gone off to war was aging too fast.
===
He opened the door to his new 1946 Ford pickup, and Mack jumped onto the passenger’s side of the bench seat. Mack rarely missed a ride to town and today would be no different, at least for the dog.
===
“I’ve killed a lot of men, Preacher, all brave soldiers on the field. You’re the first coward.”
===
Normally, in the Methodist denomination, a minister lasted only two years in one church, sometimes three, before being reassigned. Reverend Bell had been in Clanton for five years and knew it was only a matter of time before he was called to move on.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

A popular preacher murdered in cold blood by the town’s favorite son, a legendary war hero. There had to be a damned good reason for it, and it was only a matter of time before the truth spilled out.
===

In 1936, a couple of sharecroppers went to war over a strip of worthless farmland. The one with the better aim prevailed, claimed self - defense at trial, and walked home. Two years later, a black boy was lynched near the settlement of Box Hill, where he allegedly said something fresh to a white woman. In 1938, though, lynching was not considered murder or a crime of any sort anywhere in the South, especially Mississippi. However, a wrong word to a white woman could be punishable by death.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

Joel knew at a young age that his father’s suits and his mother’s dresses were a bit nicer than the average Methodist’s, and their cars and trucks were always newer, and they talked of finishing college and not just high school. He realized a lot as a child, but because he was a Banning he was also taught humility and the virtue of saying as little as possible.
===
Jackie was not in the mood to do much explaining, but she made it clear to her parents that she was struggling with her faith and needed time to reexamine her beliefs. Privately, she was asking the obvious question: Her husband, a devout servant and follower of Christ, was reading his Bible and preparing his sermon, at church, when he was murdered. Why couldn’t God protect him, of all people? Upon deeper reflection, this often led to the more troubling question, one she never asked aloud: Is there really a God?

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

Joel, at the age of twenty, could not remember a single instance when he had disobeyed his father. With age, he had learned to respectfully disagree with him, but he would never disobey him.
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…Dexter Bell was a popular preacher with a large congregation, and there are eight other Methodist churches in this county. In numbers, it’s the second-largest denomination behind the Baptists, which present another problem. Baptists and Methodists are first cousins, Pete, and they often stick together on tough issues. Politics, whiskey, school boards. You can always count on those two clans to march to the same drum.”
===
Twelve white men. Four Baptists; two Methodists; two Pentecostals; one Presbyterian; one Church of Christ. And two who claimed no church membership and were likely headed straight to hell.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

Between 1818 and 1940, the state hanged eight hundred people, 80 percent of whom were black. Those, of course, were the judicial hangings for rapists and murderers who had been processed through the courts. During that same period of time, approximately six hundred black men were lynched by mobs operating outside the legal system and thoroughly immune from any of its repercussions.
===
He smiled and seemed warm and thoroughly honored to be there doing what he was doing, defending a fine man who had defended our country. He lobbed a few questions at the panel as a whole, then he zeroed in on a couple of Methodists, but for the most part his comments were designed not to uncover some hidden bias, but rather to convey warmth, trust, and likability.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

Social life was dictated by the church. In the case of the Bannings, of course, it was the Methodist church, the second largest in Clanton. Pete insisted that they attend faithfully, and Liza fell into the routine. She had been raised as a lukewarm Episcopalian, of which there were none—devout or otherwise—to be found in Clanton. At first, she was a bit turned off by the narrowness of Methodist teachings, but soon understood that things could be worse. The county was full of other, more strident strains of Christianity—Baptists, Pentecostals, and Churches of Christ—hard-core believers even more fundamental than the Methodists. Only the Presbyterians seemed slightly less dogged. If there was a solitary Catholic in town he kept it quiet. The nearest Jew was in Memphis.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

But there was always another upcoming revival. The Methodists had two each year, the Baptists three, and the Pentecostals seemed to be in a constant state of frenzied renewal. At least twice a year some itinerant street preacher threw up a big top beside the feed store near the square and raged every night through his loudspeakers. It was not at all uncommon for one church to “visit” another church when a hotshot preacher was in town. Every denomination worshipped for at least two hours on Sunday morning. Others came back for more on Sunday evening. (These were the white churches; the black ones kept it going all day and into the night.) Wednesday night prayer meetings were common. Add in all the revivals, religious holiday services, vacation Bible schools in the summer, funerals, weddings, anniversaries, and baptisms, and at times Liza felt exhausted from her church work.

j
jimg2000
Mar 07, 2019

Rusconi testified that at least ten thousand U.S. and Philippine soldiers died during the march. They died from starvation, dehydration, exhaustion, sunstroke, and executions by bullets, beatings, bayonetings, and beheadings. Those who survived were packed into wretched death camps where survival was even more challenging than it had been on the death march. The officers attempted to organize various ways to record the names of the dead, and during the late spring and early summer of 1942 lists of casualties began to filter into Rusconi’s office in Manila. On May 19 the family of Pete Banning was officially notified that he had been captured, was missing, and was presumed dead.

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sa124960
Dec 01, 2018

sa124960 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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