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The Reckoning
Cover of The Reckoning
The Reckoning
A Novel
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • John Grisham's most powerful, surprising, and suspenseful thriller yet • “A murder mystery, a courtroom drama, a family saga.” —USA...
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • John Grisham's most powerful, surprising, and suspenseful thriller yet • “A murder mystery, a courtroom drama, a family saga.” —USA...
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  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • John Grisham's most powerful, surprising, and suspenseful thriller yet “A murder mystery, a courtroom drama, a family saga.” —USA Today
     
    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, and committed a shocking crime.  Pete's only statement about it—to the sheriff, to his lawyers, to the judge, to the jury, and to his family—was: "I have nothing to say." He was not afraid of death and was willing to take his motive to the grave.
               
    In a major novel unlike anything he has written before, John Grisham takes us on an incredible journey, from the Jim Crow South to the jungles of the Philippines during World War II; from an insane asylum filled with secrets to the Clanton courtroom where Pete’s defense attorney tries desperately to save him. 
    Reminiscent of the finest tradition of Southern Gothic storytelling, The Reckoning would not be complete without Grisham’s signature layers of legal suspense, and he delivers on every page.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover Chapter 1
     

    On a cold morning in early October of 1946, Pete Banning awoke before sunrise and had no thoughts of going back to sleep. For a long time he lay in the center of his bed, stared at the dark ceiling, and asked himself for the thousandth time if he had the courage. Finally, as the first trace of dawn peeked through a window, he accepted the solemn reality that it was time for the killing. The need for it had become so overwhelming that he could not continue with his daily routines. He could not remain the man he was until the deed was done. Its planning was simple, yet difficult to imagine. Its aftershocks would rattle on for decades and change the lives of those he loved and many of those he didn’t. Its notoriety would create a legend, though he certainly wanted no fame. Indeed, as was his nature, he wished to avoid the attention, but that would not be possible. He had no choice. The truth had slowly been revealed, and once he had the full grasp of it, the killing became as inevitable as the sunrise.
         He dressed slowly, as always, his war‑wounded legs stiff and painful from the night, and made his way through the dark house to the kitchen, where he turned on a dim light and brewed his coffee. As it percolated, he stood ramrod straight beside the breakfast table, clasped his hands behind his head, and gently bent both knees. He grimaced as pain radiated from his hips to his ankles, but he held the squat for ten seconds. He relaxed, did it again and again, each time sinking lower. There were metal rods in his left leg and shrapnel in his right.
         Pete poured coffee, added milk and sugar, and walked outside onto the back porch, where he stood at the steps and looked across his land. The sun was breaking in the east and a yellowish light cast itself across the sea of white. The fields were thick and heavy with cotton that looked like fallen snow, and on any other day Pete would manage a smile at what would certainly be a bumper crop. But there would be no smiles on this day; only tears, and lots of them. To avoid the killing, though, would be an act of cowardice, a notion unknown to his being. He sipped his coffee and admired his land and was comforted by its security. Below the blanket of white was a layer of rich black topsoil that had been owned by Bannings for over a hundred years. Those in power would take him away and would probably execute him, but his land would endure forever and support his family.
         Mack, his bluetick hound, awoke from his slumber and joined him on the porch. Pete spoke to him and rubbed his head.
         The cotton was bursting in the bolls and straining to be picked, and before long teams of field hands would load into wagons for the ride to the far acres. As a boy, Pete rode in the wagon with the Negroes and pulled a cotton sack twelve hours a day. The Bannings were farmers and landowners, but they were workers, not gentrified planters with decadent lives made possible by the sweat of others.
         He sipped his coffee and watched the fallen snow grow whiter as the sky brightened. In the distance, beyond the cattle barn and the chicken coop, he heard the voices of the Negroes as they were gathering at the tractor shed for another long day. They were men and women he had known his entire life, dirt‑poor field hands whose ancestors had toiled the same land for a century. What would happen to them after the killing? Nothing, really. They had survived with little and knew nothing else. Tomorrow, they would gather in stunned silence at the same time in the same place, and whisper over the fire,...

About the Author-

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

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Respected war hero and pillar of the community Pete Banning, without any explanation before or after, murders his pastor. Thus begins this saga, which includes sometimes painful views of the racist and misogynistic way of life in Mississippi in the 1940s, along with the intense cruelties of war. Michael Beck, who has narrated many of John Grisham's books, is well tuned to the slow, even pace of the story, which includes lengthy, detailed descriptive passages. Beck excels at dialogue, voicing men, women, blacks, whites, young, and old with varying degrees of Southern accents. Even patient listeners, however, may find themselves fast-forwarding to find the answer to the question at the center of the story: Why did Pete Banning kill the Reverend? E.Q. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine

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