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The Reckoning

Narrated by: Michael Beck
Length: 17 hrs and 36 mins
4 out of 5 stars (318 ratings)
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Summary

The electrifying new thriller from internationally best-selling author John Grisham.

John Grisham returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to tell the story of an unthinkable murder, the bizarre trial that followed it and its profound and lasting effect on the people of Ford County.

Pete Banning was Clanton's favourite son, a returning war hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbour and a faithful member of the Methodist Church. Then one cool October morning in 1946, he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed the Reverend Dexter Bell.

As if the murder wasn't shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete's only statement about it - to the sheriff, to his defense attorney, to the judge, to his family and friends and to the people of Clanton - was 'I have nothing to say'.

And so the murder of the esteemed Reverend Bell became the most mysterious and unforgettable crime Ford County had ever known. 

©2018 Belfry Holdings, Inc (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Scintillating storytelling." (The Sunday Times)

"A buoyant, mischievous thriller... This reliable best-selling author is feeling real pleasure, and not just obligation, in delivering his work." (New York Times)

"A wild, hard-to-put-down romp." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Grisham Grinds to a Halt!

John Grisham has once again struck out for something a bit different even though he has based it on familiar territory, Southern States, a legal system that becomes a character in its own right and the oft-troubled issue of race relations. It's a split story starting with the promised murder without a cause by war hero Pete Banning and the subsequent trial. Right in Grisham's back yard I think it's fair to say..

Then, we step back in time and follow Banning's experiences during the second world war where he was one of the poor unfortunates caught up in the infamous Bataan Death March, one of the great cruelties of that conflict.

Finally we're back to the main story where the aftermath of Banner's trial is dealt with as the family's ancestral home comes under threat and Banner's children try to answer the book's central mystery: Why did a father and a war hero gun down a seemingly innocent preacher and then refuse to give a reason in his defence?

What's good about this book is Grisham's usual ability to create a sense of place, build strong characters and of course make a twisted legal system into a character all of its own. Additionally the narration by Michael Beck is as good as it has been on previous novels where the two have collaborated.

The not so great is possibly the structure of the book. The opening part is genuinely compelling but rather than integrate the war story interspersed with it they are two very different and separate chunks. The reader is taken from Sycamore Row to something akin to "Band of Brothers" in a heartbeat and that wartime part feels like a different book. For a long time it's pretty grim with beheadings, torture and much disease thrown into the mix. The climax which is kept right to the very end, doesn't really amaze or surprise which having listened through 17 hours I think it is reasonable to expect.

So, has Grisham written in a more literary fashion? Is it more clever than his standard legal thrillers? That probably requires cleverer people than me to answer. What i can say is that I think it lacked the real cleverness, tension and killer twists that Grisham has so often provided in the past leaving me feeling fairly ambivalent towards it.

27 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Love John Grisham but...

...At the risk of being hated, found the entire middle section (one third) completely irrelevant to the story and added nothing to the big reveal.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

first Grisham book i did not like!

the story line was just not good! a book needs to have people you can connect to and like and a story line you enjoy - this book had neither!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Good story with pitiful ending

Great narration and a promising story but so so weak at the end... It's a who dunnit where you think you know done it and the attempt at a twist at the end is lacking, so dissatisfied with this!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • r
  • 28-11-18

The twist isn’t worth the time spent listening

Took me a lot longer than normal to get through this book but stayed with it hoping for a good ending. Predictable throughout until the very end which ultimately wasn’t very shocking. Book returned

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Good Tale

Several well narrated stories of one memorable family, a bit long for me but worth it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • eric
  • DONCASTER, United Kingdom
  • 28-10-18

Grisham at his worst

At best you could say this was a short story dragged out into a novel. There was little plot and far too much irrelevant detail put in to fill the time. BIg mistake to pick the book based on the author, who I have enjoyed previously.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, well read.

A good story & an ending I didn’t expect. I feel that too much of the book dwelled on the lead characters experiences in the war. I skipped through a lot of this & got back to the real story.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Painful and Bleak

I did not enjoy this book. It was akin to having a blunt needle being slowly pushed into my psyche.
This is not a traditional Grisham book which has its upside. Indeed great section detailing the American war against Japan in the Philippines. Only good bit in the neverending tale of woe.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Found it lengthy and drawn out

Had to increase speed to get through it.
Enjoyed Ärger Grisham Books a lot more.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jaydee
  • 09-12-18

My first Audible book

The Reckoning was very different to what I am used to by Mr Grisham. It was original. However, I did find the book bit long winded and I got bored by it often.

That said it is marginally better than 3 stars but worse than 4 stars. 67% would be fair in my view.

Mr Beck did a good job narrating.