Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Reckoning” as Want to Read:
The Reckoning
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Reckoning

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  67,451 ratings  ·  7,327 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, 420 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Doubleday Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Reckoning, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Allison I thought the war story was the best writing Grisham has ever produced. It was fascinating and extremely well written. The beginning and the ending wa…moreI thought the war story was the best writing Grisham has ever produced. It was fascinating and extremely well written. The beginning and the ending was his usual good story telling but the war story in the middle was superb writing. (less)
Kristen These reviews pretty much sum up my experience. I loved the second part, as difficult as it was to read at times. In part 3, I just felt like "massive…moreThese reviews pretty much sum up my experience. I loved the second part, as difficult as it was to read at times. In part 3, I just felt like "massive depressing thing" happened to his kids, and then more "massive depressing thing" and then? You guessed it, more "massive depressing thing" so I was expecting the end to somewhat explain a twist as to why the preacher had to die and why Pete did it and why his wife can now get out of the asylum and lead a somewhat happy life! But no, just more "massive depressing thing". Frustrating.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  67,451 ratings  ·  7,327 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Reckoning
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
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
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
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 (Bill) 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.
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 .....
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
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
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 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 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
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A suspenseful and intriguing Southern family drama with layers and layers of legal wrangling.

Pete Banning was Clanton Mississippi‘s favorite son. He had recently returned from the Philippines as an decorated war hero. He was the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbor, and a faithful member of the Methodist church.

One cool October morning in 1946 he rose early, had breakfast with his sister, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed his past
mindful.librarian ☀️
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
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars

This was a long, complicated and accomplished novel, however it is not my favorite by Grisham. After what was a long 3-part complicated story I felt the very ending was way too simple. You do not come to the truth of the story until the final few pages. That wrap up was acceptable. It was the very last sentences that were, in my opinion, so weak, so wrong, and so off kilter.

Whew! This was like 3 separate stories rolled into one. It was the story of Pete shooting Dexter and then his mur
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
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
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
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 al
3.5 stars.

Family secrets and lies, secrets and lies. That's what is at the heart of the plot here and I had no idea that the truth would be what it was. The book starts out with a cold-blooded, premeditated murder of a local pastor in Ford County, MS, a frequent setting in Grisham books. We know who did it--Pete Banning, a local WWII hero-- but not why, and Pete isn't saying. He's not denying the act, but not offering any explanation either, not to his lawyer, his sister, or his children. There
On an unremarkable morning in October 1946, Pete Banning, decorated war veteran and one of the town of Clanton, Mississippi’s favorite sons, left his farm and drove to the Methodist church and, without fanfare, shot and killed the minister, Dexter Bell. He returned home, offering no explanation for his action.

The mystery of why Pete shot Dexter Bell is the central focus of this story as every aspect of his life is examined. He had only returned the year before after having served in the Philippi
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Grisham pens another engrossing trial drama. I enjoyed reading about this family and their tragic story. Grisham always produces great courtroom drama and backstories and I rarely miss one of his books. In this book I even learned a little of the tragedy in the Phillipines which I didn't know before. Recommended if you like legal dramas.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 Stars
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
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2019
The Reckoning has three parts and revolves around Pete Banning ... a World War II veteran, survivor of the Bataan Death March, former POW who escaped the Japanese and became a guerilla. He returned to his hometown of Clanton, Mississippi a hero.

Part One: The Killing:
On an October morning in 1946 Pete Banning gets up early and goes about his morning routine. He then drives into town, walks into the Methodist church and shoots and kills Reverend Dexter Bell. He tells the janitor who comes to inves
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Long Road to Mercy (Atlee Pine, #1)
  • Dark Sacred Night (Renée Ballard, #2; Harry Bosch, #21; Harry Bosch Universe, #31)
  • Redemption (Amos Decker, #5)
  • One Good Deed
  • Past Tense (Jack Reacher, #23)
  • A Minute to Midnight (Atlee Pine #2)
  • The Night Fire (Harry Bosch, #22; Renée Ballard, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #32)
  • Cemetery Road
  • Target: Alex Cross (Alex Cross, #26)
  • Walk the Wire (Amos Decker #6)
  • Holy Ghost (Virgil Flowers #11)
  • Run Away
  • Blue Moon (Jack Reacher, #24)
  • The First Lady
  • Juror #3
  • Heads You Win
  • The Wedding Guest (Alex Delaware, #34)
  • Ambush (Michael Bennett, #11)
See similar books…
"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

Articles featuring this book

Clear some space on your bookshelves, readers. Another packed season of irresistible books is just around the corner! To help you find your ...
145 likes · 107 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“People were classified, and often judged, by their denomination. And they were certainly condemned if they didn’t claim one.” 3 likes
“Mrs. Vanlandingham from across the street heard the commotion and came running, still holding a dish towel. She arrived just as the sheriff, Nix Gridley, wheeled into the parking lot and slid in the gravel.” 1 likes
More quotes…