After the fatal shooting of Zionist fighter Avraham Stern the Jewish community in Mandate Palestine is split between those who believe they need British help to build their new country and those who believe the British are standing in their way.
So begins a bitter battle that is The Reckoning. A story that takes you back in time to the pre-1948 days, when a splinter Zionist group headed by Stern takes to the streets and attacks everyone they see as getting in the way and attacking the dream they have of a state for Jews.
They begin by attacking the Arab residents and move onto warring with British army officials who had tried to curb attacks on Arabs.
The head of the British command against Stern and his gang was Assistant Superintendent Geoffrey Morton who incorrectly blamed Stern for the murder of one of his close friends in 1938. Later, Morton was the intended target of a booby trap by Stern's followers which killed three police officers.
Stern lives the life of a fugitive and detectives eventually find him hiding in a rundown flat in Tel Aviv and send in Morton. Stern ends up dead. Shot three times. Morton claims Stern was trying to detonate a bomb, one that was never found, or trying to jump out of the window.
Was Morton's story the truth about what happened on the day Stern was found, or was the evidence clear enough to point to the detective's story being a lie? Stern defended his account three times in a UK court, and the evidence pointing to murder was clear, proving that the killing had been done in cold blood was not as clear cut.
The death of Stern, however, fails to kill the Zionist dreams for a state in Mandate Palestine, instead fuelling Stern's followers and angering them. It leads to more Zionists joining Stern's ranks and committing attacks against a police force they believe wronged them and their fellow countryman.
Patrick Bishop's detective drama travels through a time when British police were given the impossible task of keeping out European Jews who had taken refuge from the Nazis and the Holocaust and keeping them under control. Something they continued to try to do until 1948 when they finally pulled out of the Mandate and the state of Israel was born.
While Stern's life sheds light on a man who was willing to do whatever it took to attain his dream of a Jewish homeland, including make alliances with his enemy: the Nazis.
His memory lives on in the current conflict as a number of Likud party prime ministers were admirers of his work and vision.
A thoroughly researched book, The Reckoning is historic and factual, making it difficult reading at times. Though gripping in parts the historic content leaves the reader engulfed in facts which can be challenging to comprehend and follow, especially as the book follows a historical event which has not reached mainstream discourse.
Based on research, the private archive of Morton and interviews with witnesses, The Reckoning tells the tale of a rebel who terrorised Palestine, the lawman determined to stop him and the creation of a cult of martyrdom that destroyed any hope of compromise between Arabs and Jews.