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The Reckoning by John Grisham

I would like to read John Grisham”s latest gripping thriller ‘The Reckoning’. The story takes place in the fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi. It is the sixth Grisham novel to take place here, following A Time to Kill, The Summons, The Chamber, The Last Juror, and Sycamore Row. It features a chap named Pete Banning a war hero who has returned home from the Second World War, who comes from a family that has farmed cotton for generations. He is owner of a 640-acre parcel in northern Mississippi.

In Part One, “The Killing,” Pete wakes up one morning and makes a rather drastic decision. Meanwhile his wife Liza has recently been placed in a mental institution; his children Joel and Stella are college students; and his sister Florry is a would-be writer who lives on an adjacent parcel. He later meets Dexter Bell, the pastor of the local Methodist church with tragic results. A while later Sheriff Nix Gridley arrests Pete Banning and jails him. At a later trial a grand jury find Banning guilty of first degree murder. Banning family attorney John Wilbanks attempts to construct a Temporary Insanity defense. When Joel and Stella attempt to visit their mother at the State Hospital they are denied access, however Pete is allowed to visit Liza. On the day of Banning’s scheduled execution, the governor of Mississippi offers to commute the sentence to life imprisonment provided Banning gives a reason for committing the murder.

Part Two, “The Boneyard,” begins in 1925 with Pete as a new West Point graduate who meets 18-year-old Liza at a debutante ball in Memphis. After a brief and passionate romance, they elope and marry. After the deaths of Pete’s parents in the early 1930s, Pete leaves the active military, enters the reserves and the couple moves to the cotton farm. However Pete is called back to active military duty in 1939. He ends up in the Philippines where U.S. forces surrender to the Japanese in April 1942. On the “death march” to a prisoner of war camp, Pete goes missing and is presumed dead by fellow prisoners and Eventually word reaches the farm that he is dead. However he survives, and manages to escape. Then Pete and fellow U.S. soldier Clay Wampler join a guerilla force in the Philippine mountains and mount numerous attacks on Japanese personnel, vehicles and planes. Later U.S. forces begin the liberation of the Philippines. Pete is rescued in early 1945 and returns to the U.S. for treatment in a San Francisco military hospital.

In Part Three, “The Betrayal,” Joel becomes the legally appointed guardian of his mother. He and Stella begin visiting her periodically. Meanwhile Errol McLeish, a Georgia lawyer who has befriended Jackie Bell, hires Mississippi lawyer Burch Dunlap to represent her against the Banning estate. Meanwhile Joel starts law school at Mississippi and Stella starts working as a teacher. Elsewhere Liza escapes from the State Hospital, returns home, with tragic results. The Jackie Bell lawsuits continue and Jackie Bell eventually marries Erroll MacLeish. With Flory’s health failing rapidly Joel and Stella go to visit Her one final time in New Orleans and she finally explains what actually happened.

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