If Grisham had elected to tell this story in a linear fashion, it would have been a good, if unremarkable, thriller. But spooled out in this deliberately disjointed fashion, it becomes a fascinating literary jigsaw puzzle, with pieces of the story from the book’s multiple sections finally clicking into place in the end. This is Grisham experimenting with the traditional legal-thriller format, and his experiment yields thoroughly engaging results ... The Grisham brand shows no signs of losing its power to draw readers, giving him the leverage to play with the thriller format, as he does successfully here.
Grisham’s forte of course is the legal thriller, not thick-cut literary Southern Gothic, but he has often drawn on the state’s racist framework for plot and character development ... This is an accurate portrait of Mississippi in the 1940s, and it illuminates one of the difficulties in writing about the era today.
I don’t think Grisham was trying to write a literary classic for the ages, but The Reckoning is deeper, more ambitious that his usual legal thrillers. The pacing is slower, deliberate, at times even sleepy. Stylistically, Grisham’s writing is matter-of-fact, the opposite of dazzling. But have no doubt: He knows how to spin a yarn ... A murder mystery, a courtroom drama, a family saga, a coming-of-age story, a war narrative, a period piece: The Reckoning is Grisham's argument that he's not just a boilerplate thriller writer. Most jurors will think the counselor has made his case.