Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel

3.8 1058
by Tom Franklin

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Tom Franklin's extraordinary talent has been hailed by the leading lights of contemporary literature—Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Lee Smith, and Dennis Lehane. Reviewers have called his fiction "ingenious" (USA Today) and "compulsively readable" (Memphis Commercial Appeal). His narrative power and flair for character-ization have been compared

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Tom Franklin's extraordinary talent has been hailed by the leading lights of contemporary literature—Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Lee Smith, and Dennis Lehane. Reviewers have called his fiction "ingenious" (USA Today) and "compulsively readable" (Memphis Commercial Appeal). His narrative power and flair for character-ization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.

Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1058 reviews.
skstiles612 More than 1 year ago
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.
JLA1931 More than 1 year ago
As a retired medical school professor I now have time to read all the fiction I wish and give each a star for my evaluation: 1 * for poor and 4 * for top score. Franklin's latest book is my first 4* this year (and will probably not give more than 3 or 4 for the year). His character development is excellent and his place setting description stellar--I speak as a resident Mississippian. He keeps the story moving without frenzy, but with completness. He speaks deeply into very moving and complex human characters whose emotions are obvious without psychobable. It would make a wonderful book club discussion. The language is clean. Most will thoroughly enjoy it. JLA1931
tmrnc More than 1 year ago
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.
12GABBY12 More than 1 year ago
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!
HopefulNH More than 1 year ago
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.
mrsbecky51 More than 1 year ago
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!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
Jamie Mushlin More than 1 year ago
So well written, a great, sad, bittersweet story. Just so enjoyable, you will not be disappointed.
SocialReader More than 1 year ago
Franklin does a great job of capturing and holding the reader's attention with this twisting tale of crime, friendship and commentary on society's tendency to play judge. Bonus: it is an easy read. Took me not even two afternoons to get through the whole story. Only complaint: it was a bit too predictable to solve the "who dunnit?" element. Overall, a great story with plenty of action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Friendship, murder, and family tree
IrishreaderKH More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with comparison with To kill a mockingbird.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a challenge to get into. In the beggining of the book it was hard to keep track of who was who, and to know in what year it happened. But about 1/4 of the way through the book everything clicked! Turned out to be a great read.
just-a-thot More than 1 year ago
Was intense in some ways, but mostly just a great story. Not a lot of 4 letter words, which was refreshing. Recommend to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book - highly recommended!
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
"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
BruceS More than 1 year ago
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!
FayeT More than 1 year ago
The story is a little predictable, but the author's talent for painting pictures draws you into the story. You feel like you are there in Southern Mississippi and you can see, smell, hear, and taste everything the author describes. The characters are fleshed out perfectly and you become attached to each of them in different ways. Despite being slightly predictable, the author's talent is something to behold. I highly recommend taking the time to read this one!
Heartfelt_reader More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous19 More than 1 year ago
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.
Aquannie More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 28 days ago
Couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel had a little bit of everything you would expect to read about in the South in this time period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago