The Reckoning is a legal thriller as expected of a John Grisham book. After reading the blurb of this book, I knew I was in for a truckload of suspense and I wasn’t disappointed.
Pete Banning returns home to Clanton, Mississippi, from World War II, after being presumed dead by circumstantial evidence. He was a true survivor and decorated war hero who came from a prominent and well respected family known for their cotton plantation. One fateful morning, he drives out of his farm and kills Reverend Dexter Bell, the pastor of the Methodist community where he is a faithful member. To the world which includes, his family, the Sheriff, his lawyers, the jury, Judge and others, he refuses to say anything to explain his motives even to the point of death which he faced bravely. Once executed, his family is thrown into a quagmire orchestrated by his crime.
The Reckoning stayed true to its blurb’s promise of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill and anticipation while waiting to get to the end and figure out the story.
Set at the time of World War II, which was the 1940s, the vibe you get when you read totally submerges you in that era from the talk of farmlands and cotton plantations, the architecture, the typical social atmosphere, the means of communication, to the Negroes and the problems of racism. I enjoyed the fact that all the nuances of that era were taken into consideration in the writing of the story and at no point would a reader be confused about the time in the book.
I gained a lot of insight on World War II more than I could ever get if I didn’t read this book. For me, it felt like an exposé on what really went on during the war because all I knew about it basically scratched the surface. The depiction of the war struggles experienced by the Allies, from the time of their capture as prisoners of war to the battle for vengeance and survival in the Philippine jungles, was so vivid.
I keep wondering in my head how the survivors made it through the Bataan Death March, the torturing camp that was Camp O’Donnell and the hell ships where they were packed into like sardines. It’s unbelievable and more impossible for anyone to come out of this with their minds unscathed. I really love books that help me gain some form of knowledge about a subject matter. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
There was a lot of ‘telling’ here maybe even more than ‘showing’ in the manner of prose writing. I imagine if John had to expand all the ‘telling’ to actual ‘showing’ such as through backstory, then the book would have had a very intimidating number of pages. The right balance was struck and I actually like the how the story is narrated. It’s a good writing style to put to good use but you have to be adept at it. It also goes to say that ‘telling’ isn’t totally bad while writing. ‘Show don’t tell’ could be a writing instructor’s favourite mantra but I would say there’s no hard and fast rule about anything.
The Reckoning is a must read for everyone. It is thrilling as well as informative about the history surrounding World War II. Even though it’s a poignant story, I didn’t shed any tear. So it should be good for you!