Reckoning
by Grisham, John






The best-selling author of The Firm returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to trace the unthinkable mid-20th-century murder of a local reverend by a young war hero who refuses to defend his actions during a bizarre trial.





John Grisham is the author of thirty-two novels, one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and six novels for young readers.





Shortly after WWII, a decorated veteran, a genuine war hero, calmly and with malice aforethought murders a Methodist preacher. He makes no effort to conceal the crime, and, even after he's arrested and charged with homicide, he refuses to give anyone, even his lawyer, an explanation. His family is distraught; the murdered man's family is grief-stricken. What makes Grisham's latest something more than a typical legal thriller is its structure. The tale begins with the crime itself, then takes us back in time to 20 years before the murder, portraying the events that led up to it. Finally, the narrative jumps forward again, to the aftermath of the trial. If Grisham had elected to tell this story in a linear fashion, it would have been a good, if unremarkable, thriller. But spooled out in this deliberately disjointed fashion, it becomes a fascinating literary jigsaw puzzle, with pieces of the story from the book's multiple sections finally clicking into place in the end. This is Grisham experimenting with the traditional legal-thriller format, and his experiment yields thoroughly engaging results. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Grisham brand shows no signs of losing its power to draw readers, giving him the leverage to play with the thriller format, as he does successfully here. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





In 1946, months after returning home to Mississippi from fighting in the Philippines, decorated war hero Pete Banning strolls into the local church and shoots pastor Dexter Bell dead. Even when facing the electric chair, he won't say why he murdered his old friend. Did it have something to do with word that in Pete's absence his wife, Liza, was seen with Bell, who was known for straying from his marriage? Liza, who three years before her husband's shocking return had been traumatized by a notification that he was missing in action and presumed dead, is in no condition to answer any questions. She is in the state mental hospital, where Pete, head of a prominent farm family in Clanton, got her committed for iffy reasons after his homecoming. Brutally tortured by the Japanese, he himself appears to be in a reduced mental state. This being a Grisham (The Rooster Bar, 2017, etc.) novel, we spend a fair amount of time in the courtroom, first with the insistently tight-lipped Pete's trial and then after Bell's widow files a wrongful death suit against Pete's family that stands to wipe them out. As usual, Grisham does a solid job of portraying a Southern town at a particular moment in time, touching upon social issues as he goes. But the book never overcomes the hole at its center. It's one thing to create a character who is a mystery to those around him, quite another to reveal next to nothing about that character to the reader. After a while, Pete's one-note act becomes a bit of a drag. Grisham' entertaining wartime novel is not lacking in ambition or scope, but the spark of imagination that would grease its pages is largely missing. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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