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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

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  • Overall
    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.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-28-18

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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  • 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.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark Say
  • 11-18-18

Very long and the payoff maybe isn't worth it

I was happy to step back in time to a place I feel I know well from previous books with some familiar names but a lot of new characters.

The story starts with a terrible act and the fall out from this act comprises the first part of the book.

The second part of the book gives some history into one of the main characters and centralises on WW2 which for me is potentially the most enjoyable part of the book.

The third part is the lead up to why the terrible act was committed.

All in all you will be listening for around 17 hours hooked and eager to know what the motives are and how it all turns out and there's a very good chance that when you find out you will be disappointed. The ending was quite frankly terrible, like John ran out of steam or had to meet a deadline. I can see why it may have been a shocker at the time this story was set but for me the end of the story fits the word "meh" perfectly.

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  • Sean
  • 11-17-18

Dissapointed

Took a very long time to go absolutely nowhere .
Tipped over the edge of that line which some authors approach in inflicting their social judgements onto the story.
Just managed to stick with it till the end but it wasn't worth it

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-17-18

Perhaps Grisham's best book ever

I'm a huge fan of Grisham and enjoy almost everything he writes. This book however is outstanding. A riveting tale set in Ford County which so many Grisham fans are familiar with plus a stunning middle chapters set in second world war Philippines. The detail is breathtaking. The characters full and exciting. Fairly gruesome in parts I really could not put this one down. It's so good I'm going to listen to it again..

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  • angela goodman
  • 11-16-18

Needed a good editor

This story has a good plot and some colourful characters but drags on and on and on with digressions and inclusions of minutiae which have little bearing on the narrative and fail to move it forward. It's like being on a very slow riverboat which takes detours down looping streams which lead nowhere but which only add to the tedium of a long journey. Occasionally there is something of great interest to look at; occasionally there's a feature which indicates progress; occasionally there is some jeopardy. But mostly the journey is flat and featureless. It's a pity and very disappointing for those of us who have enjoyed Grisham's earlier works.

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  • christopher
  • 11-16-18

Rambling and irrelevant

Oh dear. What a disappointing end to 2018. New books from Michael Connelly Lee Child and John Grisham and all fall short. This latest from Grisham is a rambling waffling tedious load of irrelevance. I have had several attempts at it and each time find myself skipping sections trying to find something to hold my interest or the story to start. It does not work. Another one for me to return. What a shame the man who gave us so many great stories has lost his power to entertain.

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  • Pauline
  • 11-12-18

A Winner

As usual John Grisham did not disappoint - I was gripped right from the start and at no point did I guess the end. Michael Beck is a great narrator, his voices and the telling brings out each character perfectly. My only complaint is that I got to the end far too quickly because I could not stop listening.

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  • ttwatterson
  • 11-12-18

Excellent

As a long time fan of John Grisham, I would say this is one of his finest stories. The descriptions of the time in the Phillipines were mesmerising and an excellent history lesson at the same time. Truly remarkable writing and an excellent performance by the narrator. Well done to all.

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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

3 of 3 people found this review 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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-16-18

Good read

This was not a typical Grisham story revolving around a big trial or court case. It was the story of a family, it kept me guessing till the very end, it had a really good twist I enjoyed it.

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  • Bruce Warrington
  • 11-15-18

Wow! right to the end!

Mr. Grisham has again left me sleepless and absolutely breathless to the very end.
Right to the very last few words.
if you start this story, you will NOT be able to stop. Thats a promise.