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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

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (2218 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Valerie Simpsonville, SC, United States 09-26-11
    Valerie Simpsonville, SC, United States 09-26-11 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good read!"

    Narrator did an outstanding job! I was skeptical about reading this book. It held my interest until the last word leaving me with a desire to delve deeper into the lead characters. I would recommend it to a friend!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 08-04-11
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 08-04-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    79
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    64
    32
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    8
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    Overall
    "Great read"

    Extremely well narrated and engrossing story line. If you like mysteries, this is a very good one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jackie Lithonia, GA, United States 04-05-11
    Jackie Lithonia, GA, United States 04-05-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
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    230
    23
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    "GREAT STORY"

    Loved it! Great story the characters were realistic the plot kept you guessing who did it? All the time there is a small crack you can see through that something else is going on but you are not quite sure of the direction. The author is taking us on a journey of relationships that at times can be very fragle and other times so strong nothing can break it apart. The Narration was very good. You don't want to must this one! It's worth 5 credits.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy O. Oxford, MS USA 12-13-10
    Nancy O. Oxford, MS USA 12-13-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    17
    7
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    "Riveting!"

    I loved the reader and the story! Tom Franklin wove a wondrous story of friendship, coming-of-age, and murder.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CDN 01-18-11
    CDN 01-18-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    12
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    "An Excellent Listen"

    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is part murder mystery, part tale of personal and family redemption, and wholly evocative of a poor, rural area of Mississippi in both the '80s and the present. Tom Franklin's writing is superb -- carefully crafted, its beauty at times spare and at times lyrical -- and his ear for dialect is unerring. Kevin Kenerly's narration captures the South and the timbres of black and white voices with perfect understatement.

    One reviewer remarked that this is not a book for the sensitive, but I disagree. Yes, it touches our own pain on many levels; yes, we are drawn into bleak lives. Even at their bleakest moments, though, the characters are never entirely without a touching, tenuous, almost baffling hope. Ultimately, this is a story of healing, of refashioning what is broken into a new wholeness. A book that can take us on that journey is for the most sensitive among us, a book that above all is uplifting.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacquelynn arlington, TX, United States 01-28-11
    Jacquelynn arlington, TX, United States 01-28-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    11
    6
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    0
    8
    Overall
    "WOW!"

    Please don't miss this one. If your hesitant just don't think about it..CLICK, CLICK, DOWNLOAD. You won't regret it. This is for anyone who respects a good story!!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Allen, TX, United States 09-04-12
    Janet Allen, TX, United States 09-04-12 Member Since 2006

    I'm an avid listener. Audio books are a mini-vacation for me. They fill my "need to read" when I don't have time - which is most of the time. Great element of multi-tasking!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Subtle prejudice - beautifully told with hope"

    As a stand alone plot-based story, this tale could have been mean spirited or just sad. This skillfull telling provide a look into how long held feelings can do more harm than a bad act itself, and how a bit of personal bravery can change things forever. A look at the delicate balance of "getting along" and "knowing one's place" in the South of the 50's and 60's that is more what I know from experience than the caricatures we so often see. A complex tale of black and white children coming of age with an understanding of their separate positions in the community until something happens to change the course of all their lives. The title is strangely non-informative until you hear the first chapter. Not a transparent story - I wonder how much "between the lines" will be clear to people who have not lived in this environment.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Saco, ME, United States 03-30-11
    Kate Saco, ME, United States 03-30-11 Member Since 2015

    I love audio and ebooks but only give them a 5 if they hold my attention. An avereage story gets a 3 . Thrillers & Crime are my favorites.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Feels like you are there"

    Wonderully written story. As many of the scenes unfold, particularly the memories of the characters you almost feel like you are there with them. Very well done and engrossing. I was lloking forward to see what happened but didn't really want it to end.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Pembroke Pines, FL, United States 03-07-11
    Richard Pembroke Pines, FL, United States 03-07-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mysterious"

    Books like this are why I am an audible customer. It took a little time to get into the book because it does jump around a bit. I even had to rewind a bit and go back to reconnect to the story, but it was late and I was drowsy too. Unexpected twists and turns kept my attention from then on. Well written book by a wordsmith that knows how to turn a phrase. Well narrated too. Five stars for mystery lovers.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John NJ, United States 02-06-11
    John NJ, United States 02-06-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    139
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    127
    95
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    8
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    "Thoroughly enjoyed"

    Interesting characters, good story, good pace, and perfect narration. This was a very enjoyable listen. Whenever i "sneak" time listening to a book where i'm not driving or jogging, i know the book has me hooked... And even though i know how important good narration is, i don't usually make too much of it. But in this case, it's worth emphasizing - not overdone, not flat, just spot-on perfect.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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