Minnesota Seniors Online



THE RECKONING
BY JOSH GRISHAM
REVIEWED BY
LINDA WICKLUND

I think I'll start with an interesting bit of information from the author.  In the Author's Note he reveals that many years ago he heard a story about two prominent business men in Mississippi in the 1930's.  "One killed the other for no discernible reason" and the killer would never reveal the reason for the murder. "And so, I stole this story" states the author.

 If you enjoy a mystery in which you don't know the why or who of the story to the very end. This is the book for you.  And, if you are interested in books about World War II and in particular the war in the Philippines including the Bataan Death March. This is the book for you.

 The story begins in 1946, when Pete Banning wakes with the reality that "it was time for the killing." Pete you'll learn is a decorated World War II hero with severe leg wounds to prove it.  He believes to avoid the killing would be an act of cowardice...  So when Pete walked into the Methodist church, he was a soldier on a mission. Who commits a shocking crime.

What follows in Part I is the aftermath of his deed and his refusal to offer any kind of an explanation or justification for his act.  He simply states - "I have nothing to say." Sadly, this is what he also tells his beloved family, friends, and his long-time attorney.

 Part II goes back in time to 1925, when Pete was twenty-two years old and had just graduated from West Point. He is invited to attend a debutante ball and is a very handsome young man in his formal army dress whites.  It's here he meets the most beautiful girl in the room Liza Sweeney.  Pete is "thoroughly smitten" and the courtship began.  They were married the year they met.

In 1941, when President Roosevelt announced a complete oil embargo on Japan, war seemed imminent.  Pete as a reservist received his orders in September of 1941.  Pete's assignment sent him to the Philippines and the "timing couldn't have been worse."

It's from this point the author goes into a lengthy description of General MacArthur's  handling of the American forces who were confined to the peninsula.  During The Battle of Bataan the Americans and Filipinos fought valiantly with little food and non-existant reinforcements, while the Japanese had an endless supply of men, armaments and provisions.

I learned so much about the incredible bravery and sacrifice that thousands of American and Filipino soldiers endured not only on the Bataan Death March, but in the prisoner of war  camps "where the worst was yet to come." The cruelty inflicted on these men is beyond belief. In the final part of the story, Pete's children are left to deal with many legal issues as  well as trying to help their Mother recover from her bouts of severe depression. They have more questions then answers about their Father's crime. When at the very end of the book they finally learn the "truth". Joel (Pete's son) wishes he was "blissfully ignorant" since one lie changed the course of so many lives with terrible consequences.

Though this is a fictional story, "the suffering and heroism of those soldiers is difficultto imagine." A quote from John Grisham.

Happy reading!