Book Reviews by Me

The Reckoning John Grisham

A war hero and pillar of the community kills the preacher in premeditated cold blood, then he goes home and waits on the porch for the sheriff to arrive. He refuses to explain his motive and offers nothing in his defense. Finally, he walks calmly to the portable electric chair temporarily installed in the courtroom where he was convicted. After the execution, his family and the citizens of the small Mississippi town are baffled.


That is thirty-percent into the book, and the reader is desperate to know what the motive was. Unfortunately, he is going to be disappointed. The second part of The Reckoning is flashbacks to what happened during the war both at home in Mississippi and in the Philippines where Pete Banning was captured by the Japanese and forced onto the Bataan Death March. Here the quality of the story takes a nosedive. The text is riddled with iffy punctuation, factual errors, grammatical errors, contradictions, anachronisms, at least one shift from third person to second person, and virtually zero attention to viewpoint. The author gets into the head of every passing character including Japanese soldiers who the protagonist is fighting, and apparently, the editor didn’t care. This reader found it appalling that a best-selling author who is published by one of the largest publishers in the country produced such a shabby product.


The third part of the story dealt with the repercussions on the family and gradually hints at the motive. I still wanted to know what that motive was, but I was getting concerned that it was going to be disappointing. The obvious explanation, of course, was that the preacher was screwing around with Pete’s wife when he was declared missing and presumed dead. If that had been all there was to it, I was going to throw the Kindle across the room. I won’t divulge it, but I will say this, it was a little better than that, although it simply took too long to arrive.