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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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  •  
    Sarah 02-03-13
    Sarah 02-03-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "3 hours in and I'm still not into the story"

    I just can't get into this one. I want so much to like it but it just does nothing for me. The topic seemed so interesting and the setting had so much promise but it just didn't deliver.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Greenville, SC, United States 02-03-13
    Nancy Greenville, SC, United States 02-03-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
    5
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    "Murder mystery with many twists"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Book was good, Narrator's southern accent not quite perfect, but good. and he did several voice changes well.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I liked it


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    laall 09-23-12
    laall 09-23-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    100
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    333
    33
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    "Disppointed"

    This book was recommended to me, but I found it disappointing. Perhaps part of the reason was the narrator. Not really "bad", but his voice put me to sleep...literally. I kept falling asleep and having to start over. I'm also not a fan of books that go back and forth in time. I just really had a hard time getting into the story....probably was over halfway after several restarts before I finally got interested. It got much better then. I'm also not a fan of Southern writers who perpetuate the negative stereotypes of the past. I probably would not buy another by this author. Too many others to read that I find more to my personal preferences.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 11-14-11
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 11-14-11 Member Since 2009

    Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit

    HELPFUL VOTES
    557
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    273
    111
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    "Had trouble with this one"

    I couldn't get through this one. It's hard to put my finger on exactly why - it might be the story or the narration - or it might be that I needed something with some action at this time and might need to save this one to try again later. I can't say it's bad......... but I can't really say it's great either.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kentucky Woman Louisville, KY United States 07-01-11
    Kentucky Woman Louisville, KY United States 07-01-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    13
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    "Superb writing, engaging story"

    This was my first exposure to Tom Franklin, and I plan to listen to (or read) more, as I thoroughly enjoyed this well-crafted book! Franklin has created believable characters, and his story captures the subtleties of race relations in the deep South without the stereotypes and one-dimensional characters that are so common in a lot of books and movies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara San Jose, CA, United States 05-08-11
    Barbara San Jose, CA, United States 05-08-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good prose and reading"

    Not much suspense, but a pleasant listen. I would pick up another book by this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Millersville, MD, United States 04-27-11
    Carol Millersville, MD, United States 04-27-11
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    "Don't miss this one!"

    I'm so glad I purchased this book. My interest was piqued from the first page and it was sustained to the end. The narrator was awesome. I enjoyed everything about the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mama bear Ogden, UT, United States 04-16-11
    Mama bear Ogden, UT, United States 04-16-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story, foul language."

    I bought this book based on the review online. The story was every bit as compelling as the description, but the frequent bouts of foul language distracted from the story. It would be 4 stars if it didn't have so much profanity. Clearly these characters didn't come squeaky clean and a little would not bother me too much, but it seemed gratuitous and didn't really belong in the story. It was good enough to finish, but I'll think twice before reading this author again.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth 04-13-11
    Elizabeth 04-13-11 Member Since 2015

    Fast approaching retirement as a life long oncology nurse. I love family more than anything. I enjoy reading (audio only), movies, travels, paper crafting, photography, gardening and just being alive.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent book"

    I had trouble at first keeping the characters straight, but after a few false starts I really got into the book and found it a very quality story and well read. Interesting (and sad) reading about the south and all the bigotry that went on during my lifetime. Great audiobook. I highly recommend it. 4 stars, not 5 because I save 5 for my very favorite, can't put down books.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lillian 03-29-11
    Lillian 03-29-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful example of southern fiction"

    Part mystery, part coming of age novel, this book also takes on the southern racism angle full tilt. Add a terific narrator, and this is the kind of book that keeps you sitting in the car in the garage after you get home, listening to the end of the scene. Fully developed characters, and the author resists the temptation to bludgeon listeners with plot twists, instead giving us the credit to figure out a few things on our own. Highly recomended!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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