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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel | [Tom Franklin]

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter begins with one of the most compelling first lines I’ve heard in a while: “The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.” From there, Kevin Kenerly’s expert narration winds us through the empty storefronts, rusted out mailboxes, and weeded trailer lots of Chabot, Mississippi, where Ott pays the price every day for a 25-year-old crime no one can prove he committed. Silas “32” Jones lives on the opposite side of the law as the sheriff of this “hamlet”, where he continues to build on his hero status (earned on the high school baseball field) by doing expert police work.

In addition to the murder, Franklin has woven into this tale a Faulknerian family mystery complete with unexplained photographs, hand-me-down coats, and shotguns earned in fistfights. 32’s efforts to solve the Rutherford girl’s murder lead him much further back into his past than he is prepared to go, back to a one-room cabin on the Ott property where he lived as a child with his mother.

Kenerly speaks in a journalistic tone showing neither judgment of Ott’s isolated, suspicious lifestyle nor admiration of 32’s heroism. A vehicle for the story in earnest, Kenerly allows us to follow Franklin’s carefully placed clues about the Rutherford girl’s murder and Larry and 32’s mysterious and tangled past. Kenerly does this not only without giving anything away, but by adding a detached detective tone, carving out a space in the story for our emotions.

To the open-minded listener, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is an opportunity to atone for our playground sins — not necessarily to straighten out our crooked letters, but to be redeemed into something more whole. —Sarah Evans Hogeboom

Publisher's 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 30 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 teenaged 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.

©2010 Tom Franklin (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A masterful performance, deftly rendered and deeply satisfying. For days on end, I woke with this story on my mind.” (David Wroblewski, New York Times best-selling author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)

What Members Say

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    Richard Milwaukee, WI, United States 04-19-15
    Richard Milwaukee, WI, United States 04-19-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Well-Crafted Mystery"

    The author exhibited an unexpected ability to use words to create a sense of atmosphere and place. This skill is uncommon in mystery writing.

    Though the story was a bit predictable, the quality writing held my interest through the end. A great book for a long car ride...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Clinton, NY, United States 04-18-15
    Patricia Clinton, NY, United States 04-18-15 Member Since 2007
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    234
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Caught my attention"

    At first I didnt think that I was going to like it because of the heavy southern accents, But then the story caught me and drew me in and I couldn't stop listening until I was done. It was the characters that really grabbed my attention and held me. I wanted to know what was going to happen to them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shalonda Johnson 04-16-15 Member Since 2015
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    8
    4
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    "Loved the story and Narration!"

    I highly recommend this book! This was a wonderful journey and a great mystery! I absolutely fell in love with the character "32"!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian 04-15-15
    Ian 04-15-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    10
    3
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    "Very well done"

    Character development was top notch. Great story telling. For some reason it is making me write twelve more words but I said all I wanted to say.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana Springdale, AR, United States 04-15-15
    Dana Springdale, AR, United States 04-15-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Highly recommended. Riveting."

    One of the best audiobooks I've had the pleasure to hear. And I listen to one or two a week on my long commutes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deborah 04-15-15
    deborah 04-15-15 Member Since 2013
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    4
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    "Great story"

    Loved it, unusual twists in the plot, worth a listen

    Good narration, not my usual genre, but really enjoyed it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin 04-14-15
    Benjamin 04-14-15
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    "Best book I've listened to this year!"

    I picked this up on a whim. It was in a discount offer. Boy am I glad I did! It's a beautiful story exploring racism, prejudice, friendship, guilt, all rolled into thrilling murder mystery detective novel. You won't be sorry you listened.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Binkers 04-14-15
    Binkers 04-14-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Story was ok but narrator was truly excellent"

    The story was a somewhat interesting slice-of-life tale that was interesting enough to keep going but not enough to truly care. Narrator's voice work was excellent and really helped bring the characters to life. I don't often find this to be true but I don't think I would have enjoyed the printed book as much because of how well narrated this was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon United States 04-13-15
    Sharon United States 04-13-15 Member Since 2012
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    "I couldn't find a reason not to give it 5 stars!"

    I LOVED this book! I love a good cold case mystery, and this one ranks high on my list of favorites. Definitely looking into more titles from this author!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Kccck 04-13-15
    Kccck 04-13-15 Member Since 2014
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    18
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    "Abrupt ending"

    I enjoyed the book, but the ended seemed incomplete.... Otherwise it is a good book, I just wish the author hadn't just ended the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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