Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter; Tom Franklin

  


Title: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Author: Tom Franklin
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Edition: ARC
 Source: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 2/5/2011
Setting: Mississippi
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Recommend: Yes 

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a deeply moving suspense novel set in Chabot, Mississippi in the late 1970s. Trivia lovers probably know what the title refers to, but for those who don't, according to the author, "It's how Southern children are taught to spell Mississippi - M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback-I ". 

Larry, sometimes dubbed Scary Larry, by cruel kids prays for a best friend.  A lover of horror novels, especially Stephen King, he is the son of lower, middle-class white parents. Larry's prayers are answered, when he becomes friends with Silas Jones. Silas is a black boy and the son of a poor, single mother. Their friendship had to be kept secret, since even in the late 1970s, blacks and whites in Mississippi did not mix.  Despite that, the two shared some fun times, enjoying boyish activities, playing in the woods after school where others would not see them.  Unfortunately, when Larry's father finds out out their association, that all comes to an end.  The boys enter high school and Silas becomes a sports star, and goes off to college at Ole Miss.  Larry never leaves his home town. When Larry finally has a date, it is with Cindy Walker,  a pretty local girl. After that evening she is never seen again.  Larry is the only suspect, but is never tried for any crime as her body is not found.  

Larry's lonely life and solitary existence only intensifies over the next twenty-five years, as he is still seen as guilty in the eyes of the townspeople. He spends his adult days as a mechanic at his father's former shop, where he passes his time still reading books, as there is never any business it seems. To survive, he ends up selling shares of the land around the shop to a timber company.  When another girl, Tina Rutherford disappears, Larry is once again the only suspect. Tina's father is the owner of the timber company Larry sold land to.

As for Silas, he returns to town, population 500, and is now the constable there. Once again, their paths intersect and Larry and Silas, who once called each other friend, are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.

The novel is told through the narrative voices of Larry and Silas, and is written in such a way that it is sure to hold your interest. I loved the rich character development and strong sense of place. The story alternates between the present day and the events which took place twenty-plus years earlier. This is one of the best suspense novels I've read in a long time. READ this BOOK!

28 comments:

  1. I'm glad you liked it, Diane. It was on my 2010 Favorites list. A keeper!

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  2. I read this book last month and I loved it. It's one of those books you don't put down until you finish it.

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  3. I loved this too, but I am amazed at the people who said they "figured it out" way before the ending. I just didn't have a clue! :--) Although even if I did, it was so atmospheric and had such good characterization, I wouldn't have cared!

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  4. I can feel your passion! I think it must go on my list.

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  5. I'm so glad you read this. I loved it, too. Much of the town he describes reminded so much of the little Mississippi town where my grandmother lived. Wonderful book!

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  6. I have heard about this book and I even had it in my hands at the book store and put it down (due to too many books at home to read). I will have to put it on the list to read! Thanks for your review!

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  7. The title immediately caught my attention when it was first released and I have yet to read an unfavorable review. I have definitely added this to the TBR list.

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  8. I will read it then! LOL. The cover is creepy but gorgeous. Sounds like a fab book.

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  9. I've been dying to read this one - maybe I can get to it next.

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  10. Everyone is just raving over this book, and despite the fact that it's not my preferred genre (long story) I think it's one that I may have to pick up soon. I love it when suspense novels really deliver and get you totally lost within the pages, and it sounds like this one does just that. Thanks for the great review on this one. It goes in the cart soon!

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  11. Oh, I have this one on my TBR shelf so I am glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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  12. This is one I KNOW I'll be reading after the tbr dare!

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  13. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh I love this book. I just finished listening to it and I almost wanted to listen to it again right away. I would love there to be a sequel to know what happened to everyone. What a fantastic book.

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  14. Oh, goodie. I wanted this book when I first heard about it but yours is the first review I've read. And it makes me want it even more!

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  15. Everyone seems to just love this book. I need to read it.

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  16. This was one of the highlights of late 2010. I just loved the writing, the setting, and the characters. He certainly has a winner.

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  17. Yes, Ma'am! I placed it on order immediately and will read it the minute it arrives. :) Sounds great.

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  18. The "READ THIS BOOK" at the end of your review pretty much says it all.

    A lady from book group was going to recommend this and it just hit me that she never did.

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  19. Ok, ok, I'll read it! I actually have a galley of this on my shelf from back when I worked in a bookstore. Sounds like I should get around to it!

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  20. I am halfway through it - should finish tonight.

    It is good.

    PB

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  21. I've had this one in my TBR for ages. Now after your glowing endorsement I will move it up in my queue.

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  22. I liked it, but wasn't as bowled over as most people have been. I gave it my mom, though, and she loved it!

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  23. Sounds like as book that I'll pick up and won't be able to put down!

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  24. You have just reminded me to read this. I have it in my Kindle and am supposed to read it for the Okra Pick Challenge. Great review!

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  25. Glad you enjoyed it! it's one I have on my list.

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  26. I had taken this book last month from the library but never got around to it, because of too many commitments. I'm still hoping to get hold of it sometime soon.

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  27. I love suspenseful novels and this sounds like a great one!

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  28. This book was great at first, I was immediately sucked into the story. There was so much build up, and I was really excited to see what would happen, but about 3/4 of the way through everything just came to a grinding halt. The author wrapped everything up too quickly and it was very unrealistic given what happened to the main characters up until that point. The ending was very dissatisfying. Overall, it was a very disappointing read.

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