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

by
3.73  ·  Rating details ·  83,188 ratings  ·  8,595 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
...more
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)
benesse Feel the same way. It was so good and then it just petered out. The ending was beyond disappointing no matter who wrote it but coming from Grisham it …moreFeel the same way. It was so good and then it just petered out. The ending was beyond disappointing no matter who wrote it but coming from Grisham it was a major letdown. It is as though he just ran out of steam and phoned it in.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  83,188 ratings  ·  8,595 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Reckoning
Matthew
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
...more
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
Amiee
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. ...more
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
Erth
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.
Beata
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 ..... ...more
Misty
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 told...in fact SHOULD have been told...in 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
Matt
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
Krissy
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. ...more
Tim
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! ...more
Donna
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
...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
...more
Kalen
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
Gary
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
Suzzie
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
...more
Raymond
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
...more
♥ 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
...more
Lisa
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.

SUMMARY
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
...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
...more
Monnie
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
...more
☮Karen
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
...more
Carolyn Walsh
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
...more
Jonetta
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
...more
Judy
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. ...more
Tooter
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 Stars
Darla
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
Scott
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
...more
Jim
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
...more
Wanda Keith
Jan 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is absolutely one of the worst books I have ever read. I am not sure why I continued to read when the entire book seemed to make no sense, other than the fact that John Grisham used to write great fiction and I was waiting for that writer to show up. He never did! There were no redeemable characters in the book and the story went in so many directions that I found myself unable to follow the path. A large chunk of the book was right out of 'Ghost Soldiers', a book about the Bataan Death Mar ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Long Road to Mercy (Atlee Pine, #1)
  • One Good Deed (Archer, #1)
  • Dark Sacred Night (Renée Ballard, #2; Harry Bosch, #21; Harry Bosch Universe, #31)
  • Redemption (Amos Decker, #5)
  • The Dark Hours (Renée Ballard, #4; Harry Bosch Universe, #35)
  • The Law of Innocence (Mickey Haller, #7; Harry Bosch Universe #34)
  • A Minute to Midnight (Atlee Pine, #2)
  • The Fallen (Amos Decker, #4)
  • The Island of Sea Women
  • Miracle at St Andrews (Travis McKinley, #3)
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #1)
  • Daylight (Atlee Pine, #3)
  • The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington
  • The Night Window (Jane Hawk #5)
  • Contraband (Stone Barrington #50)
  • Pieces of Her (Andrea Oliver, #1)
  • Walk the Wire (Amos Decker, #6)
  • Skin Game (Teddy Fay, #3)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
70,102 followers
John Grisham is the author of forty-seven consecutive #1 bestsellers, which have been translated into nearly fifty languages. His recent books include The Judge's List, Sooley, and his third Jake Brigance novel, A Time for Mercy, which is being developed by HBO as a limited series.

Grisham is a two-time winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was honored with the Library of Congress C
...more

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...
143 likes · 107 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Meanness does not inspire loyalty.” 2 likes
“Hearing the truth is like grabbing smoke in our family,” 2 likes
More quotes…