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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Tom Franklin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,8182083,849 (3.96)250
Member:LizzySiddal
Title:Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel
Authors:Tom Franklin
Info:William Morrow (2010), Edition: First Edition, First Printing, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:in 2011, fiction, review copy, read 2012, C21, anglophone

Work details

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (2010)

  1. 20
    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (pdebolt)
    pdebolt: There is a similar poignancy to Larry Ott and Owen Meany as they struggle to find their place in their worlds.
  2. 20
    The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (fuzzy_patters)
  3. 10
    A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne (aliklein)
  4. 10
    Citrus County by John Brandon (GCPLreader)
  5. 00
    Paris Trout by Pete Dexter (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both books take place in the south, though in different states. The underlying racial tone is very similar.
  6. 00
    In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (VictoriaPL)
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Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
Unusual twists and turns make this a good book to read if u like southern fiction. Larry Ott and Silas Jones are friends ,sort of,. Larry is white and Silas is black. A crime is committed and the town blames Larry. Silas knows a lot about it be is now the Constable. Then another murder occurs and Larry is shot. Sooner or later the truth will come out with an unusual end. ( )
  pgabj | Sep 11, 2016 |
So well written! Rural Mississippi, in the late 70's but here it may as well be the late 50's. Hot, dusty, dangerous friendships.......a 5 Star read ( )
  Icewineanne | Aug 4, 2016 |
When I saw this book for the first time I groaned because I hadn’t thought to write a book with that title. The book’s name comes from a children’s song about how to spell “Mississippi” M-I -Crooked Letter-Crooked Letter-I -Crooked Letter-Crooked Letter- I-Humpback Humpback-I.

Franklin’s book flashes back and forth between Mississippi in the 1970s and Mississippi in the 2000s. Silas and Larry had briefly been childhood friends but their paths diverged. Silas went on to play baseball in college then came back to town as a constable who answered to “32,” his number at Oxford. Larry stayed in his parents’ home and worked as a mechanic, living almost like a hermit. Things have changed in Mississippi, but they have also stayed the same.

Everyone has secrets and after 20 years nobody knows how to make things right. Larry’s decision to keep a promise to a beautiful girl has left him completely alone in life. Silas’ secrets go even deeper. A missing girl causes the community to open old memories and point fingers at Larry again.

I am not sure if this book is character-driven or plot-driven; it seems to be a lovely combination of the two. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tackles the racial tensions that existed in Mississippi in the 1970s but focuses on how a person with strong convictions can be misunderstood and mistreated.

Franklin provides the reader with characters who are likeable and very human. They operate outside of stereotypes, like real people do, and his plot will keep you guessing until the end.
( )
  barefootcowgirl | Jul 29, 2016 |
(originally reviewed on 2-2-11)

I love southern fiction, and I was especially interested in reading this book as the setting is in southeastern Mississippi, which is close to where I live now in Mobile, Alabama. I use to read a lot more mysteries than I read now, particularly in the early 1990s, but I’m not a fan of gritty content, so I’ve drifted more into literary fiction over the years. I was pleasantly relieved, when, for the most part, this book turned out to be more character driven and written in a literary style without the typical gory descriptions of many modern novels. It’s a page turner and I read it pretty much straight through.

The two main characters are Larry (white), called ‘Scary Larry’ by the locals, and Silas (black), the local policeman. Growing up, the two were friends for a time when they lived in close proximity to each other. Then when Larry was in high school, he was accused by the community of killing a girl after a date, although the body was never found and Larry was never formally charged. Due to all this, Larry lives a lonely life in almost total isolation, with only his books (mostly horror) to keep him company.

Fast forward about 20 years and now another girl is missing. Naturally, the police consider Larry ‘a person of interest’ in the case, and Silas, his old boyhood friend, must get involved in trying to solve the girl’s disappearance.

This book is about a lot more than just the mysteries of the two girls’ disappearances. It’s about race, class, friendship, and family. I enjoyed it and would definitely read another book by this author, especially if Silas were one of the characters. ( )
  1morechapter | Feb 23, 2016 |
brilliant!!! ( )
  mark-f-r-ritchie | Feb 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
If you're looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche, "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" is your next book.
added by eereed | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Sep 29, 2010)
 
added by lucy.depalma | editSCIS (pay site)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Franklinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barsøe, Søren K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I.

—How southern children are taught to spell Mississippi
Dedication
For Jeff Franklin
and
in loving memory
of
Julie Fennelly Trudo
For Jeff Franklin and in loving memory of Julie Fennelly Trudo
First words
The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.
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Black and white
secret kept, secret told
brothers to behold

(Sogamonk)

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"...set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county-and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town. More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades" --Publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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