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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

59 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Larry and Silas were best friends. That is until color got in the way. No Larry and Silas didn't mind that Larry was white and Silas was black, but it seemed that everyone else did. Larry was a loner. He had few friends, and definitely no girlfriends. He liked to read, ...
Larry and Silas were best friends. That is until color got in the way. No Larry and Silas didn't mind that Larry was white and Silas was black, but it seemed that everyone else did. Larry was a loner. He had few friends, and definitely no girlfriends. He liked to read, read, read. Silas was very athletic and had plans to be a baseball star. Then one day Larry is asked by a neighbor girl if he will take her to the movies. It is to be his first date. His father not only loans him the car but gives him the money for the movie. But Cindy was using him to get out of the house and away from her abusive step-father. He does exactly as Cindy asks him. Why because she lies to him. When she disappears he keeps her secret and becomes the town outcast. He is accused of raping and murdering her eventhough no body was ever found. Now another girl has gone missing. Larry has become their prime suspect. Silas is back in town as the new constable and avoids Larry for his own reasons. It isn't until Larry is shot, the young girl's body found on Larry's land that Silas remembers how Larry was at one time his friend and it is time he prove Larry's innocense. This means he will have to stop lying to himself and to the people of Chabot.


This book was an accurate view of the discord between blacks and whites in the late 1970's and 1980's. It is also an accurate look at how we sometimes judge people and if they don't stand up for themselves then they get lost among the lies. I felt so sorry for Larry throughout this story. However, I wasn't real sure about the killer's identity until the end. The ending was spectacular. The author didn't try one of those, "okay we solved this crime and brought to light this lie so now we can tie a bow on it and everyone can live happily ever after". The author created an ending that was very believable and maybe left an opening for another book. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to share it with others.

posted by skstiles612 on July 31, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

16 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

Underwhelming

I am so disappointed in the buyers are Barnes & Noble who selected Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter as their fall B&N Recommends Title. These are the same people who chose such incredible titles such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Thirteenth Tale. Let me assu...
I am so disappointed in the buyers are Barnes & Noble who selected Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter as their fall B&N Recommends Title. These are the same people who chose such incredible titles such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Thirteenth Tale. Let me assure you that Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is nowhere near the caliber of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter gets a bit predictable. Okay, it gets a lot predictable. And that is when I started to check out. I knew "whodunit" and was not surprised when it was revealed. The only thing that remotely held my interest was the relationship between Silas & Larry. It was a unique relationship discouraged by both sets of parents. But they were just boys and they both just wanted someone to pal around with. But even their relationship became predictable in the chapters set in the present.

posted by charlottesweb93 on October 21, 2010

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Page 1 of 17
  • Posted July 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

    Larry and Silas were best friends. That is until color got in the way. No Larry and Silas didn't mind that Larry was white and Silas was black, but it seemed that everyone else did. Larry was a loner. He had few friends, and definitely no girlfriends. He liked to read, read, read. Silas was very athletic and had plans to be a baseball star. Then one day Larry is asked by a neighbor girl if he will take her to the movies. It is to be his first date. His father not only loans him the car but gives him the money for the movie. But Cindy was using him to get out of the house and away from her abusive step-father. He does exactly as Cindy asks him. Why because she lies to him. When she disappears he keeps her secret and becomes the town outcast. He is accused of raping and murdering her eventhough no body was ever found. Now another girl has gone missing. Larry has become their prime suspect. Silas is back in town as the new constable and avoids Larry for his own reasons. It isn't until Larry is shot, the young girl's body found on Larry's land that Silas remembers how Larry was at one time his friend and it is time he prove Larry's innocense. This means he will have to stop lying to himself and to the people of Chabot.


    This book was an accurate view of the discord between blacks and whites in the late 1970's and 1980's. It is also an accurate look at how we sometimes judge people and if they don't stand up for themselves then they get lost among the lies. I felt so sorry for Larry throughout this story. However, I wasn't real sure about the killer's identity until the end. The ending was spectacular. The author didn't try one of those, "okay we solved this crime and brought to light this lie so now we can tie a bow on it and everyone can live happily ever after". The author created an ending that was very believable and maybe left an opening for another book. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to share it with others.

    59 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 13, 2010

    Haunting and Gripping.....Read this Book!

    I happened across this book just browsing the B&N website. I am glad I did. This book is gripping from the start. The characters are so well written and the story effortlessly woven from past to present. I could not put it down and read it in one day. Although not a "happy ending" kind of book, the end satisfies fully. I would recommend this book to any fan of multilayered mysteries and fast paced thrillers. I am looking into other Tom Franklin reads and anxiously awaiting what he pens next.

    30 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Beuatifully written, well-researched mystery / thriller that held me at tense-excited attention throughout!

    CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER, by Tom Franklin Reviewed by Hana Gabrielle Packard This story had me with the first sentence! This is a fine multi-layered and fast-moving thriller but also has so much more in the way of life-lessons and emotional complexity. The excellently described 1970's background of old town Mississippi with all its southern draw and great character, the story is narrated by Larry and Silas, alternating vantage points and flashback to present. Ostracized by classmates because he was different, a stutterer, glasses wearer, subject to bloody noses, "Scary Larry" grew up and somehow remained a gentle soul. Things got better for him when he became fast friends with Silas, an African American boy growing up with only his single Mom who worked most of the time in order to support them. The friendship ended when Larry had a "first date" with a girl who suddenly disappears. Being forever suspect, Larry was yet again an outcast, viewed by all as "crazy" for twenty years. Silas returns twenty years later after having gone to college and built his career to become the town Constable. These twenty years later another girl disappears and so the story continues as friendships reunite and questions eventually get answered. This is a beautifully written, well-researched mystery / thriller that held me at tense-excited attention throughout. I loved it!

    19 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    intriguing late twentieth century regional police procedural

    In Chabot, Mississippi, Larry the bookworm loner and Silas "32" Jones the super baseball star became friends in high school in spite of their personality differences and the fact that the former is white and the latter black. When Cindy asks Larry to take her to the movies, he is excited with his first date. However, instead of a movie, Cindy used Larry to escape from her abusive step-father. When she vanishes, everyone accuses Larry of murder and probably rape though no proof exists.

    Two decades later, Silas is a local constable and Larry the mechanic remains the pariah. When Larry is shot, the Rutherford girl's body is found on his property. With memories of missing Cindy still lingering and the circumstantial evidence of the current homicide in spite of his bullet wound, Larry is more than just the prime suspect. Silas, who has avoided his former friend since coming home, knows he owes Larry his best effort on proving the outsider is innocent.

    This is an intriguing late twentieth century regional police procedural with a couple of strong late realistic twists. The story line is a character driven thriller; mostly by Larry who fails to confront the whisper campaign that has condemned him in Chabot. With a strong look at race relations in small town Mississippi in the 1970s and 1980s, readers will enjoy the strong saga of Larry and Silas.

    Harriet Klausner

    17 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    This is why I love to read.

    This book stands out as one of the best books I've read in a long time.
    Fantastic, held my interest, kept me guessing and I didn't want to put it down.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2011

    Wonderful book

    So well written, a great, sad, bittersweet story. Just so enjoyable, you will not be disappointed.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 21, 2010

    Wonderful read!

    After the first few pages, I could not put this book down. Franklin is
    a master writer and I enjoyed this so much more than the last 3 Grisham books. The story is unique and not predictable. The title is a bit
    confusing, so I was glad to find the explanation by the author. I would definitely read other books by this author. I would recommend this book to most anyone who likes adventure, intrigue and good
    literature. I love the tender characters!!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Sticks with you

    Tom Franklin's book reminds me of the classics written many years ago. The story turns the pages for you and the plot leaves you guessing throughout.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    AN UNFORGETTABLE NOVEL, ONE THAT RESONATES WITH TRUTH OF PLACE AND CHARACTER

    "The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house." With the first sentence it's clear that CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER will be a humdinger of a thriller. What it takes two or three pages to realize is that not only is it a first-rate thriller, but also a beautiful, trenchant observation of rural Mississippi some 30 years ago. Tom Franklin's Southern dialogue is pinpoint perfection, his scenes painterly, bringing to our mind's eye Chabot, a small decaying town and its inhabitants, so vivid it is as if we were seeing everything and everyone in wide screen color.

    Yet it is the story that holds us as it is told through the eyes of Larry and Silas, alternating between the days of their youth and adulthood. As a boy Larry is a loner, ostracized and bullied by his classmates because all he does is read (Stephen King and other horror stories), belittled by his father, Carl, whom Larry understood to like "most everyone except him. From an early bout of stuttering, through a sickly, asthmatic childhood, through hay fever and allergies, frequent bloody noses, glasses he kept breaking, he'd inched into the shambling, stoop-shouldered pudginess of the dead uncles on his mother's side." Called "Scary Larry" by schoolmates he was not a pretty picture, yet he remained a gentle soul.

    Each night when his mother prayed with him at bedtime she asked for a friend for Larry, someone just for him. And then then an unlikely friend appeared - Silas, an African-American son of a poor single mother who worked two jobs. Their friendship was brief, just a few months, ending when Larry had his first date. He took a girl to a drive-in movie, and she apparently disappeared. Of course, Larry is seen as her abductor, perhaps a murderer. But, no body is found. Larry simply exists in a lonely state, an outcast, seen by all as a crazy man for over 20 years.

    After that length of time Silas returns to Chabot as a constable. He is aware that Larry comes to the garage he runs every day, although there are never any customers. Silas ignores him until the night a monster visited Larry's house and said, "Ever body knows what you did."

    Silas is now forced to remember what he has tried so hard to forget.

    This is a story of friendship reclaimed, atonement, and the devastation wrought by bigotry. Tom Franklin has crafted an unforgettable novel, one that resonates with truth of place and character. CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER will not be forgotten.

    - Gail Cooke

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2010

    Must Read!!!

    I only bought this book because it was recommended. I absolutely loved it! I am normally a Nora Roberts/Danielle Steel fan...but this book was really great! I am hoping his other reads are just as good!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    Excellent! Couldn't put it down.

    I agree with comparison with To kill a mockingbird.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    SPLENDID NARRATION OF A BRILLIANT BOOK

    Long a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Kevin Kenerly has apeared in a good number of their productions filling varied and challenging roles. We can only hope he turns much of his time to voice performances because his narration of this title is spot-on, especially in recreating the accents found in rural Mississippi. He reads distinctly and with definition whether it be the voice of a frightened boy or the slurred threats of a drunken man. Outstanding listening!

    "The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house." With the first sentence it's clear that CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER will be a humdinger of a thriller. What it takes two or three pages to realize is that not only is it a first-rate thriller, but also a beautiful, trenchant observation of rural Mississippi some 30 years ago. Tom Franklin's Southern dialogue is pinpoint perfection, his scenes painterly bringing to our mind's eye Chabot, a small decaying town and its inhabitants, so vivid it is as if we were seeing everything and everyone in wide screen color.

    Yet it is the story that holds us as it is told through the eyes of Larry and Silas, alternating between the days of their youth and adulthood. As a boy Larry is already a loner, ostracized and bullied by his classmates because all he does is read (Stephen King and other horror stories), belittled by his father, Carl, whom Larry understood to like "most everyone except him. From an early bout of stuttering, through a sickly, asthmatic childhood, through hay fever and allergies, frequent bloody noses, glasses he kept breaking, he'd inched into the shambling, stoop-shouldered pudginess of the dead uncles on his mother's side." Called "Scary Larry" by schoolmates he was not a pretty picture, yet he remained a gentle soul.

    Each night when his mother prayed with him at bedtime she asked for a friend for Larry, someone just for him. And then then an unlikely friend appeared - Silas, an African-American son of a poor single mother who worked two jobs. Their friendship was brief, just a few months, ending when Larry had his first date. He took a girl to a drive-in movie, and she apparently disappeared. Of course, Larry is seen as her abductor, perhaps a murderer. But, no body is found. Larry simply exists in a lonely state, an outcast, seen by all as a crazy man for over 20 years.

    After that length of time Silas returns to Chabot as a constable. He is aware that Larry comes to the garage he runs every day, although there are never any customers. Silas ignores him until the night a monster visited Larry's house and said, "Ever body knows what you did."

    Silas is now forced to remember what he has tried so hard to forget.

    This is a story of friendship reclaimed, atonement, and the devastation wrought by bigotry. Tom Franklin has crafted an unforgettable novel, one that that resonates with truth of place and character. CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER will not be forgotten.

    - Gail Cooke

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Great book!

    Loved this book - highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2011

    Great book on more than one level.

    If you come this far you probably know that on the surface this is a murder mystery. But it is so much more, it's a peek at the rural south, of friendship, of the awkwardness of growing up. A must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2011

    Great Story, a must read

    This book is truly amazing. The interaction of the two main characters and their mutual history as it is revealed in this book is done in such a gripping manner that you will not want to put this book down. The ending is totally unexpected but rewarding. A rarity in a book of this type,is how complete I became absorbed by these two men. This was a book that I could not put down. Mr. Franklin, I eagerly await your next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    I read a lot of books, all different types, and I must admit that it's been a couple years since I read a book that haunted me. You won't be able to stop thinking about Larry long after you've finished the last page. If you're looking for a book that really gets into your heart, this is the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    Real Life between two covers

    I love all of Tom Franklin's work. The characters are real and you will end up caring deeply about them. I could not read it fast enough to see how it ended and I do not say that about many books at all. A very good use of your time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2014

    Love

    I hand sell this book to customers all day long, never anything but "thank you!" when I see them next.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    As CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER opens we are introduced to Lar

    As CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER opens we are introduced to Larry Ott going about daily routine in life. It's nothing special, just the same daily routine you or I experience with only the location and occupation being different for most. We can relate to this Larry and his hum drum existence. If we're not careful we can overlook the fact that Larry is completely alone in this first meeting. It is when we find him in his home facing a monster that we realize there is more to the story and this man Larry than meets the eye.
    Next we're introduced to Silas "32" Jones, who is the local constable. When we first see Silas he is making his rounds as constable, when he notices some buzzards circling overhead. it is in this portion when the reader notices the issue of race becoming prominent in the writing. To make us better understand and perhaps to also make us form preconceived ideas in matters to come, the author tells us "white folk" or "white girl" not merely a missing college student the entire state is looking for. At the first reading, we merely pass them by as he has planted the notion and continues on to tell us of Silas' problems in everyday life, ie requesting a new bronco, constantly getting refused, much as he does with Larry in the first chapter. In addition, we see a little of the personal relationships Silas has with the people around him. He is well liked by those around him and has personal relationships. Silas has the almost perfect life.
    By the end of the first two chapters we see two smart, likable men. It is only as the story continues the reader sees the depth of each man. At one point, we find both men were friends and liked each other until life intervened. Both men eventually leave their home in Chabot, Mississippi, only to return years later to face the problems of living in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. Unfortunately, not everything we know always turns out to be the truth.
    In Larry, we see a man who keeps his faith in God and his fellow man. No matter what the world throws at him, he somehow continues living even though only his mother and perhaps one other woman in Chabot, Mississippi sees him for the person he is. In Silas we see a man doing the best he can while living with regrets of the past. Even though he can do nothing to change most of them, he perseveres until in the end, he tells the truth, setting himself free. In Wally, we see a man who is seemingly only known the bad life has to offer. Wally takes these experiences and develops the way society expects. In him, we see how the way we treat others can cause horrors in our own lives we never thought possible.
    By the end of the story, the author has you considering how our preconceived ideas and our tendency to jump to conclusions lead us to the wrong conclusion. How our judgmental attitudes wrongly convict the innocent people around us and sometimes it can come back to haunt us.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    Must read!

    Wonderful book, I recommend not just this (which is on of his best) but all or any of Tom Franklin you can get your hands on!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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