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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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  •  
    Kentucky Woman Louisville, KY United States 07-01-11
    Kentucky Woman Louisville, KY United States 07-01-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    22
    12
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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 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    60
    13
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    0
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    Overall
    "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 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    REVIEWS
    313
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    "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 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    REVIEWS
    188
    16
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    2
    3
    Overall
    "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 St. Paul, MN United States 04-13-11
    Elizabeth St. Paul, MN United States 04-13-11 Member Since 2007

    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.

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    Overall
    "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 Palm Desert, CA, United States 03-29-11
    Lillian Palm Desert, CA, United States 03-29-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    81
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    60
    35
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    2
    2
    Overall
    "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
  •  
    Jennifer New London, NH, United States 03-18-11
    Jennifer New London, NH, United States 03-18-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
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    74
    7
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    Overall
    "well worth the credit"

    just finished this book and loved it. characters were well developed. beautifully narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Twin Falls, ID, United States 03-08-11
    Robin Twin Falls, ID, United States 03-08-11

    rampant reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    5
    5
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    1
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    Overall
    "Great book"

    I loved this book! The narration was perfectly done, and I was immediately sucked in to the story. I felt terrible for Larry, waiting for absolution that never came. I actually teared up in some of the parts of his story. I recommend this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Dayton, OH, United States 03-03-11
    Melissa Dayton, OH, United States 03-03-11 Member Since 2010

    Counselor with eclectic taste, I enjoy all types of fiction, dark, strange and twisted things, humor and explicitly.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    32
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    1
    10
    Overall
    "Pleasurable Listen, sad …."

    Good character development, melancholy tone, enjoyable storyline with pleasant narration. I was pleased with the story and the unfolding of it all, and the ending was …good

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Beaverton, OR, United States 03-03-11
    Amazon Customer Beaverton, OR, United States 03-03-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    8
    7
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    0
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    Overall
    "Wow - great all around"

    I downloaded this book on a whim after seeing it on Audible's main page, and I'm so glad I did. The story is haunting, the characters are multi-faceted and the writing is beautiful. In addition, I would download almost anything from this narrator - he is so good. I didn't want it to end!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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