The Reckoning by John Grisham was just released today and I’ve already read it. 2 out of 10 stars. Very disappointing. 🙁
This is as depressing a tale as Grisham has ever told. It all revolves around Pete Banning, heir to a large farm in Mississippi that’s been in the family for centuries. Pete has what’s considered a nice life until he joins the war and ends up in a POW camp being tortured for two years. During that time they break his legs which heal improperly and he endures years of pain. When he finally escapes and is transported back to the US he has to have his legs broken again to heal them properly. After months of surgeries and therapies he’s so excited to finally be healed enough to have sex with his wife Liza. Only she’s not interested. So like any man he gets suspicious. She tells him a story, that she was pregnant when he left and miscarried. Since she had three miscarriages before it’s believable, but the timing is off. Pete had a back injury which prevented them from having sex, so her lies start to pile up. Pete hires a private detective who discovers she made secret visits to the pastor Dexter Bell. So he confronts Liza and asks her if she had an affair with Pastor Bell. She says she did, that she was pregnant with his child, and that the abortion she had caused her to have an infection which made her lose feeling, made her completely lose interest in sex. Which was a lie. But he believes her. She has a nervous breakdown and he commits her to a hospital for care. But the knowledge that his wife had an affair the two years he was being tortured drives him crazy and he kills Pastor Bell, an innocent man. Pete is convicted of the murder and executed. He makes no attempt to defend himself. Over the next two-three years his two children will fight to keep the farm land that’s been in the Banning family for centuries…and they’ll lose. Their mother eventually escapes the hospital and kills herself, but not before telling her secret. It wasn’t Pastor Bell, but the African American grandson of their servants she had the affair with. Pastor Bell was completely innocent. He convinced her not to tell anyone about the young man she was being intimate with because in those days he would’ve been hunted down and hanged. So what we have here is a woman who lied to save one man and unwittingly condemned another innocent one.
As tragic as this story is, it’s told in the last four pages of the novel, starting on page 413 of the 417 page novel. :0
The first 412 pages are incredibly boring. Most of the middle 200 pages is Pete’s view of the war told in narrative with little dialogue. Most of the last 150 pages are a narrative of the various briefs and courts the lawsuit for the land goes through, more boring.
2 out of 10 stars. That’s being generous. 🙁