The Reckoning

Narrated by: Michael Beck
Length: 17 hrs and 36 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (82 ratings)

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Publisher's 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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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another Grisham Triumph!!

Excellent story. I was hooked form the beginning. The descriptions of war, capture, the human nature's ability to survive is excellent.
But the heartbreak is real too. The characters are easy to fall in love with and hard to say goodbye to.
Thoroughly enjoyed story and its narration 👏👏

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

please! please! don't listen to this story!

listening to this, i felt myself age! literally! it's time i will never get back? the narrator is not to blame. the story is just not worth the time, sorry

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

I’m a huge John Grisham fan. I really am. But this book left me disappointed. Slow and drawn out - the tangents to the story were very colourful, but the actual storyline was super boring and nearly twist-less. Great performance by the narrator, Michael Beck.

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A family in crisis.

A tale filled with action, family lies, reactions & legal twists. Not easy to remain uninvolved without having an opinion. Not just a story, it's epic.

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    1 out of 5 stars

Don't waste your time <br />

What a disappointment. Three rambling short stories rolled into one with the most anticlimactic ending of all his books. Annoyed that I wasted my time

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Never again

I had previously said I wouldn't buy another Grisham novel as I thought he was just going through the motions. I was right. Bear in mind I enjoyed most of his earlier books.

This would be one of the worst books I have listened to in a long long time.

The story is extremely slow moving and laboured. I wasn't a huge fan of the reader but they probably did their best.

Do not buy. I won't buy another Grisham. Ever.

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Great narrator, terribly drawn out story

The book is three parts which could be written in three pages. Long and drawn out and with a predictable conclusion containing only a slight twist.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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This book frustrates me right to the end.

Just get it out and say it you stupid people. Then when the truth finally come out... and I mean finally... it was so disappointing and screwed up I just wanted to stop the book. I feel sad and hurt for going through this and having that ending. I’ve read every other book John has and this I would have gladly gone without this one. I wanted to scream at these stupid stubborn people Just fkn say it god damn it.. yet no... I need a drink I’m not ok... I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 10-24-18

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.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Lotta
  • 11-29-18

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!

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Stuart
  • 11-28-18

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!

6 people found this helpful

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  • r
  • 11-28-18

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

5 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 02-08-19

would give zero stars of possible.

this was a real slog from start to finish. Regret this purchase. Made a long car journey stretch to eternity.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Neen Machine
  • 12-19-18

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.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Christobel
  • 01-31-20

Love Grisham. Just not THIS Grisham

After completing The Reckoning, I discovered a review written by Neely Tucker in the Washington Post that explains the underlying principle of inherent racism that runs through the entirety of this story, which to a certain extent I'd somehow missed. The second act felt misplaced - I was distracted the whole way through it, waiting to find out exactly how it tied in with why Pete murdered the preacher. It goes some way to explaining Pete's mind but whilst a compelling story in its own right, bored me with its jingoistic feel and linear characterisation of the enemy (maybe that was the point?). The reaction of key characters to the core question is troubling and I wish this had been developed more - it felt like the crux was missing. I found the narrative slow and repetitive but as with all John Grisham's books, still un-put-downable.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Squeaky Joe
  • 05-08-19

A Classic

1946. In Clanton, Mississippi, the townspeople are left shocked and confused when local farmer and war hero Pete Banning drives over to the Methodist Church and shoots and kills the Reverend Dexter Bell. Instructing a bystander to fetch the sheriff, Banning returns home to await his arrest. However, what baffles everyone, not least Banning’s family, is his outright refusal to explain or justify his actions.

It’s a few years since I read anything by John Grisham, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with his latest offering. Although one section of the book deals with the court case, it is the effect on the hero’s family that moves the story along, as we shift back and forth in time from Pete’s war years and marriage to the aftermath of the trial and its effects on the Banning family.

This feels very much like one of those classic American novels in the tradition of John Steinbeck, as it follows the family from the early years to the repercussions of the trial. And though it seemed at times like it could almost have been two novels, I found it by turns gripping, thought-provoking and totally heart-breaking. A classic.

2 people found this helpful

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  • eric
  • 10-28-18

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • C. Geake
  • 01-21-20

Initially gripping but ultimately underwhelming

the book is written in three parts. the middle part is essentially a historical novel - I wonder if the author was fascinated by World War II history, notably fighting against the Japanese, and created a novel around that to justify a new obsession. the novel suffered overall as a result and you had to wait far too long for a conclusion which was ultimately underwhelming.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kay
  • 11-02-18

Why bother?

I expected a thriller. I got a history of the Asia pacific war. Much too long. Bit of race complexity but I gave up. Listened to last chapter. All very expected. Dull

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-12-18

The most depressing book written by John

Depressing from beginning to end. Wish I hadn’t sated my time reading this book by a normally brilliant author

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-29-18

Great story - very well narrated

Enjoyed listening to the narrator. The most engaging section of the story was the part set in the Philippines during WWII. Brilliant writing. Overall a very entertaining read.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • michelle
  • 04-30-20

great read/listen

I enjoyed this book thoroughly, a few twists and turns, not what I expected at all.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Barbara L
  • 12-10-19

A bit tedious

The story went on a bit. I think for the first time I thought an abridged version might have been more enjoyable.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Adrian Seale
  • 10-29-19

author seems to run out of ending ideas

Great book, love the history and insight, but as a novel i would not recommend to anyone , was very disappointed and have taken the author off my list of authors i enjoy

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  • MARGARET
  • 10-17-19

The Reckoning

I got it for my husband who has never had an audible book before and he really enjoyed the whole experience.The story was great he was very happy altogether.I will get another one a bit later on .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jase
  • 10-10-19

John Grisham - a fine story teller

Over the last year I've both listened to and read John Grisham's books and enjoyed them enormously.

Michael Beck brings the stories to life on Audible and just like the books themselves where I have to read them until done I listen to them intently in this format.

The Reckoning a great story where the theme and storyline took me to the heart of the family struggle and the deep postwar south was thrilling.

The detail in which the characters played out was really enjoyable.

Thank you Mr. Grisham as good as always 👍

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • EmperorCrispy
  • 10-01-19

Great book, ordinary ending.

Very long book. Interesting story and keeps you interested. Unfortunately the ending was a fizzier though. Such a build up then nothing.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-08-19

Crap

I wish I never wasted my money on this. The story was terrible, the narrator was terrible