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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

"Windy" Murder Mystery Gets a "Meh" From Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

A Bataan death march survivor, 43-year-old Pete Banning has been home in Clanton, Mississippi for a year.  As a war hero, a cotton farm owner, a husband, a father, and a quiet, serious man, he's respected among the townsfolk.  It comes as a complete surprise, then, when Pete walks calmly into the Clanton Methodist Church and shoots Dexter Bell, its popular pastor.  When asked why he murdered the 39-year-old minister, Pete simply replies, "I have nothing to say."  Everyone is baffled by the crime, which has them all asking, "What makes one good man kill another good man?"

This simple, but intriguing premise is at the heart of John Grisham's 2018 novel, The Reckoning.  The story recalls Pete's life and military service, all en route to explaining his role in Dexter's death.  Although the novel rambles on for far too many pages, its compelling premise kept me reading.  In spite of the wordiness (or "windiness" as Grisham likes to say), I definitely wanted to know why Pete did what he did.  I can't say I felt a lot of attachment to the characters in this one, though.  Nor did I find its finale satisfying.  Overall, The Reckoning is a sad, depressing read that's well-written, but boring and not very memorable or enjoyable.  My conclusion?  Meh.  

(Readalikes:  the war chapters reminded me of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand)

Grade:

   
If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flower

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The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs



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