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The Reckoning

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  27,697 ratings  ·  3,048 reviews
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
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Doubleday Books
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Ben Personally, I think the horrors he went through in WWII helped explain his actions in the first third of the book, namely his blase attitude about…morePersonally, I think the horrors he went through in WWII helped explain his actions in the first third of the book, namely his blase attitude about getting sentenced to death, being held in jail, etc. He'd already been through hell, so the Mississippi situation was almost a vacation for him. I think it helped explain some things in the back third as well. Just a personal opinion. (less)
Ross Barnett I personally thought "The Boneyard" was the best part of this book. The Bataan death walk was well explained and in researching this I found that…moreI personally thought "The Boneyard" was the best part of this book. The Bataan death walk was well explained and in researching this I found that there had been a couple movies made post war on this little known conflict. A big thank you to John Grisham for bringing this to our attention once again.
I felt the ending was leading up to a sequel. In fact I almost sense a follow up. I think Errol McLeish deserves a bullet as well before he puts poor old Jackie Bell gets put in the poor house.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  27,697 ratings  ·  3,048 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 .....
Shoshana G
Sep 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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 ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
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.
William Fluke
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
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.
Cody | codysbookshelf
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've read many Grisham novels and have enjoyed the first several. And I've have even read one recently....last week to be more accurate. In that review, I couldn't quite name the thing that kept me from liking it like I've liked his older stuff. But now after reading this one, I think I know what that "thing" is.

Grisham can come up with a story...that isn't a problem. He can create suspicion and suspense. Great. But the problem I've had with this book and with the one I read last week, is the w
Jan 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
For a visit to "Downerville," read this story. It's quite depressing. 2 of 10 stars
Rebecca McNutt
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 ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
417 pages. Four HUNDRED and seventeen pages. For a story that could have been fact SHOULD have been about 250, and that is being generous. I liken this novel to a trip I once took with my parents when I was a child. We drove from Pennsylvania to Florida to visit my grandparents. Along the way, my father thought he had some moral obligation to pay homage to every roadside attraction within 50 miles of our route. It was torture. So was this book. Every time Grisham seemed to re ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 cha
Dec 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
This did not work for me. It started out pretty interesting but died a quick death. It was just too long, dull, and depressing. The war flashbacks bored me to tears and I didn't understand why they were even included in the story. Don't go into this expecting some big twist at the end. Or even a big eye opening moment. It never comes. I didn't finish this book thinking "I totally understand why he killed that man." Which was very frustrating.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I hadn't read a John Grisham novel for quite awhile and very quickly after starting 'The Reckoning' I started thinking about other books of his that I also wanted to read. Unfortunately the book was a bit hit and miss for me, I enjoyed the first part of the novel where the killing and the court case happened but my interest waned when the second part of the book spoke of the main characters war time experiences and by the end I really didn't care a lot what the outcome proved to be. Overall disa ...more
Kate Olson
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-reads
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
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-reads
This started out so promising. The first 1/4 of the book (give or take) was fantastic. And then we got to the courtroom scenes and aftermath which dragged on but it is a Grisham book so fair enough. The second part of the book is 100 pages or so of WWII combat, specifically in the Philippines and the Bataan Death March. Compelling enough I suppose but completely out of place in the rest of the book. Yeah, I get he was trying to demonstrate Pete's PTSD but it just didn't work for me and wasn't at ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Without doubt, this is one of the saddest and most haunting books I've read in a while (close to downright depressing, in fact). What's more, about a third of it was so unsettling that insofar as possible, I skimmed through it. It is written matter-of-factly, without emotion - but the emotion comes through loud and clear nonetheless. Did I love it? In many ways, no; but in the overall scheme of things, it's pretty darned awesome.

Let me clarify. The depressing part came near the end, when facts n
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Author John Grisham never fails to tell a story well, but in this instance, I question whether the story needed to be told at all. In a departure from his typical legal thriller, Grisham tells the story of Pete Banning, favorite son of Clanton Mississippi and a surviving WWII POW veteran. After being declared dead, yet somehow miraculously surviving the horrors of the Bataan death march and POW Camp O'Donnell, Pete Banning returns home for a joyous reunion with his family. But shortly thereafter ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
It has become one of my annual late Fall rituals. The leaves are falling. College and Pro football are in high gear, which means it is time to open the new John Grisham novel, “The Reckoning”, and re-visit the law in action in the South.

This time out, Grisham shares a family saga combining the elements of a World War II time period, a secret mystery, and plenty of court room drama. It is 1946. Pete Banning is a successful farmer and patriarch of a prominent family in Clanton, Mississippi. He is
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Set in the post-WW2 South. Not your typical John Grisham novel which usually focuses on legal thrillers. Actually this novel has three divergent stories. The author delves into WW II history, especially The Bataan Death March. Some reviewers may complain that this is not a page turner.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
This is a sweeping saga recalling the finest Southern Gothic tradition. "The Reckoning" is a captivating story penned in gorgeous prose with full-bodied characters and a vivid sense of place.
A tale to take pleasure from and in which to lose yourself.

Part One - The Killing:

On October 9, 1946 in Clanton, Ford County, Mississippi Pete Banning, a decorated war hero and prominent citizen, awakens early and calmly goes about his morning routine. He then drives into town, walks into the Methodist and
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, edelweiss
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
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm a big Grisham fan and have read all of his adult books. The Reckoning would have been so much better as a short story. Grisham should have written another volume of Ford County and put a short story version of this book in the collection.

The book was too long, the recounting of Pete Banning's time in WWII had no bearing on the rest of the novel, the back and forth about the land and the estate was too much. The whole time I was reading this I just wanted to know why he did it. The ending was
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

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
Travis Fortney
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Somewhat of a departure for Grisham, though his recent books The Rogue Lawyer and The Rooster Bar haven't perfectly fit the mold of "legal thriller" (which he pretty much created) either. This one is about a World War II hero named Pete Banning who kills the preacher Dexter Bell for reasons unkown. Suspense in the novel is two-fold. Question one, will Pete be executed for his crime, and two, will we ever learn his motive? I found the first part of the novel, which deals with question one, to be ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book, fiction
The book takes place in Ford County, Mississippi, the site of many of Grisham’s early books. The reader must remember the story takes place in 1946 and the relationship between black and whites in Mississippi was different than today. The book is divided into three section. The first is about the current time (1946) with the story of Pete Banning. The middle is about Pete’s time during WWII and the last part is back to the current time (1946) with the problems of Pete’s children.

Grisham grabbed
Julie  Durnell
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I liked this new Grisham novel so much! It was part the usual legal thriller but a smaller part; with a most unusual murder. More emphasis on Pete's year of service during WWII fighting the Japanese, which was so hard to read about but harder to put the book down; and the southern cotton farming family with all sorts of secrets. I almost had the ending figured out but it ended up blind-siding me!
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I do not understand some of the bad reviews of this book. I have read every John Grisham novel and in my opinion this is his best in years.
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"Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of
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“Hearing the truth is like grabbing smoke in our family,” Joel said.” 1 likes
“Much to the concern of her parents, she began skipping church. They were devout Methodists who never missed a Sunday. Indeed, few people in their part of the world missed church and those who did were talked about.” 0 likes
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