It’s October 1946 in Clanton, Mississippi and a fatal day for Pete Banning and his family. Pete (a war veteran) is the owner of his family estate that has a huge cotton field and has been there for over a hundred years. He is well off financially, has two kids Joel and Stella (both in college), has wife Liza (who he had to commit because of a breakdown) and his sister Florry, who lives on the estate in her own house with her own land. So for the most part things in his life are good.
But today is the day it all changes. He has deeded his land over to his kids, written a letter to his wife, got all his accounts in order, gave a secret safe of money to his sister. He grabs his gun and his trusty sidekick dog and heads to the Methodist Church. He walks in and shoots the Preacher Dexter Bell three times killing him. Hop Purdue who is cleaning the church hears it and runs to see what’s going on. Pete drops the gun and tells Hop to go tell the police.
Pete goes home and sits on his porch waiting for them to show up to arrest him. They do and he confesses. He’s thrown in jail and won’t tell anyone why he did it. Not even his lawyer that has been representing him for years. Pete is prepared to die and go to his grave keeping his secrets.
Pete’s trial takes place and his fate is sealed. This is just the first part of the book. The rest of the book gives background on Pete and Liza and their relationship and his war days. There’s also lawsuits filed against the estate and those play out until we finally learn why Pete did what he did.
It’s a compelling story from author John Grisham. I have read a few of his books over the years and haven’t seen anything like this one from him. The way it’s written based on story order is unique and only adds to the layers of the story and why Pete was like he was and did what he did. For fans of John this will make for an interesting read.
You can pick it up in stores on Tuesday, October 23rd from Doubleday.