CHARGE (What was the author trying to say?): The effects of war aren’t left on the battlefield.
FACTS: A World War II veteran calmly murders his Methodist Minister in cold blood. He never reveals the reason, and never raises a defense at his capital murder trial. His children are left to pick up the pieces after his execution while their mother remains in the state mental institution. Is murder ever justified? Once a hero, always a hero? Can war cause you to do unspeakable things? The structure of the book is quite interesting. You know about the murder from the opening pages. The details of Pete Banning’s execution are quite extensive. The book then shifts to Banning’s service in WWII, in the harsh Pacific theater. Here the description becomes quite vivid and almost too much to bear. (I confess, I skimmed much of this section.) The final section of the book ties up all the loose ends into an almost too-perfect package. Although I find this one of Grisham’s better books, the Mississippi stereotypes do become tedious. The ending is very abrupt and you are left wanting more – a sequel perhaps?
VERDICT (Was the author successful?): Guilty, as charged. Despite the difficult topic, it is quite an enjoyable read.