Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Summary and Reviews

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

A Novel

by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2010
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

In a small Mississippi town, two men are torn apart by circumstance and reunited by tragedy in this resonant new novel from the award-winning author of the critically-acclaimed Hell at the Breech.

Larry Ott and Silas '32' Jones were unlikely boyhood friends. Larry was the child of lower middle-class white parents, Silas the son of a poor, single, black mother -- their worlds as different as night and day. Yet a special bond developed between them in Chabot, Mississippi. But within a few years, tragedy struck. In high school, a girl who lived up the road from Larry had gone to the drive-in movie with him and nobody had seen her again. Her stepfather tried to have Larry arrested but no body was found and Larry never confessed. The incident shook up the town, including Silas, and the bond the boys shared was irrevocably broken.

Almost thirty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence in Chabot, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion, the looks of blame that have shadowed him. Silas left home to play college baseball, but now he's Chabot's constable. The men have few reasons to cross paths, and they rarely do -- until fate intervenes again.

Another teenage girl has disappeared, causing rumors to swirl once again. Now, two men who once called each other friend are finally forced to confront the painful past they've buried for too many years.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Edgar Award winner Franklin (Hell at the Breech, 2003) renders luminous prose and a cast of compelling characters in this moody, masterful entry." - Booklist

"The Southern atmosphere is rich, but while this novel has the makings of an engaging crime drama... [it generates] far more fizz than pop." - Publishers Weekly "Starred Review. A ripping good mystery, this novel also has depth and a subtle literary side, as the local area comes to life through the writer's cinematic descriptive phrases and a large and colorful cast of supporting characters. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"Beautiful writing, a spot-on sense of place, wickedly funny dialogue, and an emotionally potent story charge this highly original, literary crime offering from master stylist Tom Franklin." - George Pelecanos

"Lyrical, morally complex, superbly crafted, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter further validates Tom Franklin's status as one of America’s best writers." - Ron Rash, author of Serena

"A new Tom Franklin novel is always a reason to get excited, but Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is more - a cause for celebration. What a great novel by a great novelist." - Dennis Lehane, author of The Given Day

"Lately I've been wondering why, in an age when every new novel is hyped as a revolution of one sort or another, the classic trifecta of talent, heart, and a bone-deep sense of storytelling so rarely appears. But here it is: Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. It's a masterful performance, deftly rendered and deeply satisfying. For days on end, I woke with this story on my mind." - David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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Reader Reviews

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Lisa H. (Salisbury, MD)

Ssss....Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Slithers Up On the Reader Like a Snake in the Grass
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter slithers up on the reader like a snake in the grass or in the deep, dark woods of Mississippi. The story uncoils itself in alternating turns from past to present through the voices and memories of former childhood friends, Silas and Larry. The setting and dialogue are deeply evocative of the rural south, and the racial relationships are finely drawn. There are some surprising twists and turns along the way, which will cause the reader to question what they think they know. Hmmm, who's the bad guy? Is it black on yellow, or yellow on black? An excellent mystery, but an even better character study!

Pamela B. (Monona, WI, WI)

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Tom Franklin's book draws the reader in from the very first sentence. Is the monster real, or a manifestation of the evil within? The present and the past draw together to answer this question. An enjoyable read, filled with memorable characters, and real feel for small town life in rural Mississippi.

avid

not a murder mystery
This book was classified as a murder mystery by the bookstore in which I purchased it. While there is a murder (or possibly more), this book is about relationships, reflection, race relations, and Mississippi. Its characters make it worth reading; the "murder mystery" is almost a sideline.

The author put me in Mississippi, on a farm, in a nursing home, and in a squad car, all through the eyes of his well-developed and compassionate characters. I really enjoyed this book. If you like character-based novels, this is a great read.

Carm D. (Omaha, NE)

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
I really enjoyed this book. Great story, much suspense and edge of your seat situations.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves mystery or detective novels, you won't be disappointed. I'm looking forward to reading Mr. Franklin's other novels.

Patricia M. (San Jose, CA)

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
I requested this book based on my enjoyment of Franklin's previous book "Hell at the Breech". I was not in the least disappointed. This is a fine mystery with well developed characters, and a sense of time and place that is perfect. Set in the Mississippi of the 70's, 80's, and the present, the two main characters, one white and one black, deal with their families and their social standing in ways that touch the heart. Part mystery and part family drama, this is a page turner and is highly recommended.

Carol T. (Ankeny, Iowa)

Exceedingly readable -- a page turner
Hard to put down, even on the weariest of evenings! I'll read this author's work again.

...20 more reader reviews

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Tom Franklin is the author of Poachers: Stories, Hell at the Breech, and Smonk. Winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program and lives in Oxford, MI, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their children.

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