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)
This book had a slow start, but once it got going it was a page turner. I really enjoyed the narrator as well. Every now and again a writer comes along who transports the reader right into the location of the story and this is one.
The story started off interesting but ended flat, in my opinion. No twist and turns, but that might not have been the intention. The character relationship building was the focus. The narration was awesome!
I got this book for half off so I'm not going to be as harsh a critic. I didn't care for the narration all that much and I think that's a big reason I may not have cared as much for cyrus, one of the main characters. it was interesting though and was easy to get caught up in. I wish it had more details in some areas but I was still a pretty good book. average at least, not horrible but also didn't stand out too much.
This is the first book I've listened to by Tom Franklin, but certainly not the last. The story is riveting, the transitions from past to present giving texture and color to the story. Kevin Kenerly is a most talented reader, making the characters easily recognizable in his voice. I loved this book!
The narrator was awesome! The way he switched up his voice and used his southern drawl! Loved it!
I wasn't sure exactly which way this book would go but it was engaging and kept my interest. All throughout, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Larry. He's the type of guy that would make an amazing husband; yet all he ever wanted throughout this book, was love and understanding. That's something everyone wants.
I loved this book; loved the fact that it took place in Mississippi; loved the different characters and personalities.
Retired Political Science professor from a community college. Especially like Legal Thrillers.
An excellent story with excellent narration. It is the story of two boys, one black, the other white who form a friendship that evolves throughout the story. The author does a great job of interweaving their lives as if he is crafting a fine basket. Unlike some mysteries, the story remains believable, with well developed characters. It takes a couple chapters to get into, but the delay is worth the wait. I highly recommend a good listen.
This novel is about the post-integration South and changes in relationships. It is not the usual tedious race novel -- oh, the poor blacks, oh, the mean whites -- that there have been WAAAY too many of and I avoid like poison.
This is a murder mystery story basically, and the characters are treated ------- as equals! There's a concept for you. They're all people and their past and race affects them but does not overwhelm the story.
I was delighted with the author's treatment of one obvious plot ploy. 95% of readers would surely guess it pretty quickly, so when the author admits it, he just mentions it in passing without dwelling on it. Duh, that was obvious, he's saying: that is not what the story is about!
It's about friendship and what friendship IS. Both main characters have a hard time with this concept: what do you have to do to be a friend, and what can't you do and still be a friend? I think a lot of people have trouble with this and it's a theme well worth building a story around.
I felt this was a brilliant novel and a good story and well-developed, likeable and interesting characters. I recommend it.
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