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
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.
“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)
Compelling, Thought Provoking, Hopeful
Larry, Tom Franklin has said that he based the character on himself and you can tell. You literally feel like you get a first hand account of a misunderstood person's side of the story.
All of them. He is a phenomenal talent!!! Great jobs for every character especially considering he was dealing with different races and ages.
Silas driving Larry home from the hospital.
Excellent piece of literature.
Got this book because it was on sale for 7.95.. did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I would recommend the book 100%. The narrator was great. The story line caught your attention. I was disappointed when it ended.
Very interesting story, beautifully written and well read. I recommend, and hope to find other books by this author.
The easy unfolding of the story and a narrative that flowed logically and in expected order. I felt the reader, although he didn't read with a Mississippi accent, had an easy going cadence that fit with the flow and feel of the story.
I liked how the author developed his characters to be believable humans. Both were flawed yet you found yourself as a reader, understanding their feelings and the conflicts in doing what they did and you wanted both of them to do the right thing and succeed in the end. The story line is a bit obvious but it unfolds logically and you are still left wondering how it will be resolved and exactly how we will get there. I was very impressed with the writing style of the author who gave us a believable feel of a small, rural, southern town and the people who would live there.
I enjoyed this story, however, I felt like as the book got closer to the end the author raced to finish it. The end of the book was disappointing for me; it was predictable and anti climactic. It was still an enjoyable book to listen to, up to that point and I would still recommend listening to it.
The story and character development were craftily done.
I haven't stayed up half the night in a long time listening to a book, but this one kept me listening to just a bit more throughout the night.
Can't pick just one.
More twists than a Mississippi copperhead!
My mother was from Mississippi, and I so fondly recall her teaching my sister and I how to spell it.
The narration by Kevin Kenerly was excellent! What a rich and smooth voice he has.
This book has it all. mystery, social commentary, human interest, psychology and sadness caused by the terrible people who torture their families for generations, and do so without the community bothering to interfere .
the audio version is excellent, the narrator expertly got under the skin of the characters - literally! bravo!
Say something about yourself!
This is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to. The story had enought twists and truns to keep the listener intrigued, the narrator was really fantastic (it was magical the way he was able to do the tones and dialects of variety of characters--really amazing). I'd highly recommend this book--in fact, I already have!
Absolutely! I could not guess where the story was going--and I pride myself on being able to figure out plot points early.
No but I will definitely look for more of his work. Very impressed with his talent.
Larry was the most interesting, he was such a tragic character.
I don't feel like listening to this was a waste of time but it is not a book/audio recording I would recommend.
There was not enough difference between the character's voices. Silas and Angie's voices were excellent, every other woman and man sounded exactly alike.
I would enjoy a prequel more than a sequel with the story of Alice, Carl and Ina being fleshed out.
I wanted to love this novel but only liked it. Franklin blatantly telegraphed all of the revelations. There was no a-ha moment, nor was the resolution of either murder all that interesting.
Probably not. But I'm still thinking about the characters.
The moral ambiguity and complexity of the characters.
Great voice. Evoked a sense of place.
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