When it comes out of its usual formula (lawyer feisty new lawyer corrupts law firm / insurance company / government agency), John Grisham usually achieves something unique.
More than 25 years have passed"A Time to Kill", his first novel that did not find his audience until the publication of "The Firm", his first popular work.
As of that moment, Grisham rarely disappointed, but admirers of the first almost personal novel wished it.
In 2013, "Sycamore Row"He became the book, the continuation of Jake Brigance's story of the author's first novel.
"The Reckoning", the new book by Grisham, has resonances from these novels, although it is set four decades before the two. The new novel is set in the 40s in the same city of Mississippi where Jake Brigance successfully defended Carl Lee Hailey, the black man accused of murdering the white men who attacked his new daughter.
It was arrived at the end of 1946 in "The Reckoning" when the hero of World War II and the outstanding farmer Pete Banning enters for the office of the Methodist church in his native city of Clanton, Miss.
He pulls out a loaded Colt .45 – one that brought back a raid on Japanese aircraft – he notes with his pastor and friend Dexter Bell, and kills the reverend while working at his desk in his weekly sermon.
Why does Pete commit murder? Did it have anything to do with the closeness that seemed to develop between Dexter and Liza, Pete's wife, while Pete was far from war? What about closeness becomes a matter?
How will this news affect Liza, whom Pete recently committed to crazy state asylum? Is the Mississippi state condemning a murderous war hero?
Why did Pete send the land of Banning to his children, Joel and Stella, a few weeks before the murder? Do not try premeditation? What impact will this obvious legal maneuver have on the adjacent lands of Pete's sister, Florry?
Pete's answer to one of these questions is solid: "I have nothing to say".
All this seems to indicate that John Grisham embraced the traditions of his southern literary ancestors. There are more than some echoes of William Faulkner's work. (In fact, Faulkner makes a real appearance near the end of the novel).
Like "All the men of the king," the timeless reference point of southern Robert Penn Warren, "The Reckoning" is much about how the sins of the past have generated the sins of the present.
Grisham tries hard on his new job. The emulation of Faulkner and Warren is certainly a novelty to try. Add Grisham's ability to give life to the contemporary legal thriller. There are also two court judgments, which serve as books for the novel.
Still try even more. Among these tests is a thoroughly investigated account of the Battle of Bataan Death and its sequels, which aims to reveal a lot about who is Pete Banning and who becomes.
Too often, however, that mean, fascinating section that is, tends to inform instead of becoming a real part of the novel.
But, at least, John Grisham remains abused by the logic and illogical law of the Mississippi in particular and the southern culture in general. He is one of the true contemporary teachers in examining both.
Which linked his concerns with those of the literary teachers who preceded it, writers such as Faulkner and Warren, are part of the success of "The Reckoning." It is part of getting to know the truth of the South, although Joel Banning comys late The novel: "Listening to the truth is how to grab the smoke in our family."
Steven Whitton is a retired English teacher.