244. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Canada) - (USA)

Pages: 335
Ages: 18+
Finished: Nov. 10, 2010
First Published: Oct. 5, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: southern fiction, psychological suspense, Gothic
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

Reason for Reading: I love southern fiction and am always intrigued with stories where the past comes back to haunt the lives of those living in the present.

It's the late 1970's, rural Mississippi and white Larry Ott from a lower middle class home and black Silas Jones son of a poor working single mother, make for strange friends. But friends they are, though they have to keep it secret because of their colour, everyone, including their parents would cause a fuss, but as the years go by they drift apart. Silas becomes a jock baseball player eventually moving away to play college baseball. Larry, always a loner, likes horror books and comics, goes out on his first date and the girl disappears forever. No evidence or body is ever found but for the next 25 years Larry is ostracized as the likely killer of the missing girl. Now Silas is back, a constable of a nearby town, and when another girl goes missing all eyes focus once again on Larry.

This is an emotional, poignant story that focuses on many levels. It is a story of a close, bonding, but brief childhood friendship and a story of race relations in a variety of complicated situations. The most profound theme found here though is the burying of deep secrets of the past and leaving them to rot. The harm and destruction they can cause when no one comes forth to tell the truth and the turmoil caused when decades later the secrets are brought forth into the light.

This is a somewhat slow moving story, which centers mostly on the relationship of the two men, the secrets of the past which they each are only partially aware of, and how their lives have been affected. The crime is in the background and keeps the plot moving forward as well as giving cohesion to the meandering narrative which drifts back to the past and forwards to the present. Personally, I didn't find the crime or the secrets very hard to figure out knowing quite early on how things would probably turn out. However, the story is certainly character driven and I highly enjoyed spending time with Larry Ott and Silas Jones, though one more than the other. Somewhat dark emotionally, yet not all doom and gloom, with an ending that may not leave you feeling all fuzzy; I found it a satisfying ending and am enticed to looking into Mr. Franklin's previous novels.


  1. The first sentence draws you in!

  2. I love it when people I like enjoy books I like!! So glad to see you liked this one. I loved it. Franklin has a way of blowing me away with his writing (both imagery and dialog).

    I absolutely loved his first novel (Hell at the Breech). I always describe it as a very brutal story that's beautifully told. I'm not a fan of his second novel Smonk at all. I do have his short story collection (Poachers) on my shelf. I've heard good things about it and hope to read it soon.

    So glad to see you liked this one.

  3. It's as great first sentence isn't it Mystica. You just have to keep reading after that!

    Thanks Suzi! Hell at the Breech looks fabulous. My library has it so I've put it on my "save list". 2011 is going to see me back at the library more often!

  4. I think Franklin is gifted at placing you smack dab in his prescribed setting. While I really enjoyed CLCL, I still am wavering on the 4.5/5 rating I gave it. I think I'm more at a 4.25/5. Anyway, I loved Hell at the Breech (5/5). Be prepared for a darker read, though.

  5. First time reading a book my Tom FRanflin, but will not be the last. Just completed reading CRooked Letter......Something is bugging me about the ending though. Was there something more to the ending, or just that fact that Silas and Larry make you believe that they will build a friendship?


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