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The Reckoning

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  6,353 Ratings  ·  707 Reviews
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 best
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)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Kat Lewis Don't you think you should label this as a spoiler? Kind of Rude

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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
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
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
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.
Kate Olson
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was total southern immersion for me, listened and read this, LOVED the reader, so much feeling it was dripping off the pages, was driving when he started to shout, felt like I was right there in the midst and flinched behind the wheel!

I thought this was excellent, historical fiction and a riveting family drama, which I bought into hook line and sinker! When my husband came home from work I was 17' from the end, I wanted to slink away and finish instantly, much to my surprise he was 18' fro
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Henny Bogan Does The Reckoning
It’s not so much that The Reckoning is a downer, but that it is a terrific downer and is a very unusual departure from the Grisham norm. His usual schtick revolves around a little guy finding a loophole in the law and milking it shamelessly in spite of all kinds of turmoil. This tale has no winners, is completely barren of humour and his chief character engenders no following, no empathy and no likeability. It is 1946 in The South and Pete Banning walks into his ch
Fred Forbes
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
For the Grisham fan, it is not unusual to drop whatever else you are reading and buzz through his new release. Frankly I'm surprised at the split in opinion on this book as I have found that Grisham at his worst is eminently more readable than most authors. The story flows, the characters are believable, enough villains and good folks to keep you rooting for the obvious outcomes and enough elements to entertain most readers - Southern history in the 40's, interesting overview of the war in the P ...more
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!
May 16, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Website - has a nice description of the plot....

Amazon’s October 23, 2018 release description was "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".
Dick Reynolds
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s October 1946 in Clanton, Mississippi. Our protagonist, Pete Bannon, has eaten breakfast and is heading out to see the preacher, Reverend Dexter Bell. Pete’s children, Joel and Stella are away in college and his wife, Liza, has been tucked away in a mental institution. Pete finds the preacher, calmly murders him with his pistol, and is arrested without any resistance. He is quickly brought to trial and, to his attorney’s amazement, will not plead any defense. About this time I thought we’d ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy John Grisham's books, and I did enjoy The Reckoning. It just wasn't one of my favorites of his. Grisham is a great writer, and so the way the story was told helped keep my interest.

The first part of the book is about Pete Banning, who is a cotton farmer in Mississippi in the late 1940s after WWII. He is a decorated war hero, who was presumed dead for two years, before returning home injured after escaping the Japanese and working with some guerilla warriors in the Philipines. Afte
The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
I was captivated by the plot, which was definitely different. The characters, however, especially Pete Banning and his two offspring, Joel and Stella, were oddly-one-dimensional, which Liza and Florry Banning were much stronger.

What bothered me the most was the absolutely flat writing style--so much omniscient point of view, so much telling, that the story lost its impetus early on. I thought this read like some lackluster long journalistic article rather than a novel, and certainly not like ear
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
For me this story was flat and underwhelming. In the first third or so of the book, after his return from the World War II Pacific arena, a respected war veteran and landowner kills a hometown pastor. The reader and supporting characters do not know why. He is tried, convicted and executed. His family grieves, but the story elicited little emotion in this reader. The story then looks back on the veteran's horrific war experiences. While probably the most interesting part of the book, the reader ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good read. It's a little different John Grisham book. First 1/3 of book sets up the rest of the story with the trial. Second 2/3 is flashback of the war and the last 3rd of the book tells what happens after the trial and how it affects all involved with a nice twist at the end.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
John Grisham has a tried an true formula, but with The Reckoning he's added a new demention. Pete Banning is a war hero who has survived the Bartaan death march, he's overcome severe physical abuse and witnessed wanton killings and come home a changed man. Lies, pride, racial conflict and mental issues steer Pete to commit a violent act that will forever change his life and that of his family. This book is absolutely brilliant, its both haunting and gut wrenching.
4 stars
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is some story! Grisham returns to his roots and we are given a glimpse of the Jim Crow South in good ole Ford County. The book begins with a mystery. Why does Pete Banning shoot the minister and refuse to defend his actions? We watch his trial on the edge of our seats wondering if he will be sentenced to die on Old Sparky. No sooner is this answer revealed and we are whisked back in time to the Philippines during WW II with grueling details about the horrors of the Bataan Death March. Final ...more
Janet Friesner
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't know if this is going to make sense or not. I loved the book but I also hated it. Maybe I just hated the ending. I felt let down and yet I guess it was appropriate. I do not know. I really cannot give an opinion on this one. You will have to read it yourself.
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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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“Do you have any bourbon?” “You’re too young for bourbon, Joel.” “I’m twenty,” he said, standing. “I’ll graduate from Vanderbilt next spring, then go to law school.” He was walking to the sofa where he’d left his duffel. “And I’m going to law school because I have no plans to become another farmer, regardless of what he wants.” He reached into his duffel and retrieved a flask. “I have no plans to live here, Aunt Florry, and I think you’ve known that for a long time.” He returned to the table, unscrewed the top of the flask, and took a swig. “Jack Daniel’s. Would you like some?” 0 likes
“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.” 0 likes
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