Saturday, April 03, 2021

Sunday Synopsis

The ReckoningThe Reckoning by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know how I missed this book two years ago. Since I'm just now reading it, I thought it was new. Then I found out my mom had already read it, and it was published in 2018, so I'm late to this party.

A reckoning is the settling of accounts, a judgment, an accounting of things that have been done. A day of reckoning refers to a time when one pays for past mistakes. The Reckoning was a fitting title based on the plot.

The novel centers around the Banning family, land owners who operate a cotton farm just outside of Clanton, Mississippi. Head of the household is Pete Banning, his wife is Liza, and their children are Joel and Stella. Pete's sister Flory also lives nearby on her tract of land which Pete also farms.

When the country enters WWII, Pete resumes his officer role in the military. Pete returns from WWII in October, 1946, and is declared a hero after being presumed dead for several years. Not long after returning, he murders the Methodist preacher. But why? This is where Grisham injects suspense because Pete will only say, "I have nothing to say." He will not help his lawyer mount a defense. His attorney is named Wilbanks, so perhaps a predecessor of Lucien Wilbanks in A Time to Kill and A Time for Mercy. I'd like to thing so.

I enjoyed the mention of Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter of New Orleans and the Peabody Hotel in Memphis because they added a historical aspect and verisimilitude, a realistic quality, to the story.  I have visited both hotels, so I felt a personal connection.

The novel can basically be divided into three sections.
1. crime and punishment
2. courtship and WWII (flashbacks)
3. legacy and revelations

The mood of this novel is somber and morose. It has a very ironic yet heartbreaking end. There are a few minor "happy-ish" moments in the book, but overall, it is dark and subdued.

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