Book Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter – Tom Franklin

Title: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Author: Tom Franklin
ISBN: 9780060594664
Pages: 288
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

When a girl disappears in a small town in Mississippi, suspicion falls on Larry Ott.  After all, twenty-five years ago, another girl disappeared and the last person who saw her was Larry.  Silas Jones, the constable, remembers his complicated childhood friendship with Larry as he tries to determine the truth.

Review:

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a novel that takes place during two time periods – the present day and the 1970s – in Mississippi.  Franklin writes the Southern atmosphere well.  The entire novel is thick with humidity, with that soupy weather that seems to define southern summers.  It’s incredibly dark and moody, caught up in the secrets, lies, and racial tension present in the town.  I can’t begin to describe how wonderfully atmospheric this novel is; it envelops the reader completely from beginning to end.

The two main characters Larry and Silas are well written.  Franklin takes his time in developing them; Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter moves at its own, slow pace.  This is a novel about people, about the setting, rather than about the plot.  Of course, the story is important, but the other elements take precedence.  That’s not to say the book is boring, just that it’s very carefully crafted and finely wrought.  This isn’t a novel to pick up if you’re looking for a fast-paced, thrilling read.

The mystery that the novel centers around is the disappearance of the two girls twenty five years apart.  The entire town believes Larry had a hand in these crimes, but really Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is actually about the relationship between Silas and Larry.  The mystery takes a backseat to this complicated and difficult friendship, a friendship that turns into something else entirely.  It’s interesting and well-written, and though the big reveal at the end is very predictable, readers will get the sense that they were supposed to figure it out prematurely, that it was Franklin’s intention to craft the novel that way.

This certainly is an interesting novel in terms of plot and characterization, but it’s really Franklin’s beautiful writing and his ability to turn a phrase that make Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter worth reading.  I can’t praise the perfect atmosphere that Franklin created highly enough.  I will definitely be keeping my eye out for Franklin’s next novel.

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Comments

  1. Also, for any audio lovers out there, it is fabulous in the hands of Kevin Kennerly as narrator. I’m thrilled to see it still getting awards, and it is deserved. One person in our book club complained about loose plot threads, but that is so not what it is about, as you said. And Franklin couldn’t be a nicer guy. Can’t wait for his next project that he is working on with his wife!

  2. Also, for any audio lovers out there, it is fabulous in the hands of Kevin Kennerly as narrator. I’m thrilled to see it still getting awards, and it is deserved. One person in our book club complained about loose plot threads, but that is so not what it is about, as you said. And Franklin couldn’t be a nicer guy. Can’t wait for his next project that he is working on with his wife!

  3. I have this on my shelf and am not sure why I haven’t picked it up. Thanks for the review I’ve moved it up my TBR list.

  4. I have this on my shelf and am not sure why I haven’t picked it up. Thanks for the review I’ve moved it up my TBR list.

  5. I’ve been meaning to do a reread of this in audio. I agree it’s the writing and the relationship between Larry and Silas that grab you, more than the mystery.

  6. I’ve been meaning to do a reread of this in audio. I agree it’s the writing and the relationship between Larry and Silas that grab you, more than the mystery.

  7. Larry made my heart ache. I just felt so bad for him! I loved this book!

  8. Larry made my heart ache. I just felt so bad for him! I loved this book!

  9. I just posted my review on this one today too! I completely agree that the atmosphere was just wonderful. It’s a perfect book to read before a trip to Mississippi. Great review!

  10. I just posted my review on this one today too! I completely agree that the atmosphere was just wonderful. It’s a perfect book to read before a trip to Mississippi. Great review!

  11. I really liked this book and thought it highlighted the worst of small town living.

  12. I really liked this book and thought it highlighted the worst of small town living.

  13. I really enjoyed this one, and the very complex relationship between Larry and Silas. It was, at times, almost painful to read about how Larry was treated, and my sense of injustice really flared up at times. Your review on this one was wonderful, and I feel that you really captured the spirit of the story and the slowly meandering ambiance that characterized it. Fantastic review today!

  14. I really enjoyed this one, and the very complex relationship between Larry and Silas. It was, at times, almost painful to read about how Larry was treated, and my sense of injustice really flared up at times. Your review on this one was wonderful, and I feel that you really captured the spirit of the story and the slowly meandering ambiance that characterized it. Fantastic review today!

  15. Sounds interesting. I thought about picking this one up.

  16. Sounds interesting. I thought about picking this one up.

  17. I love when readers and reviewers pick up on the setting as a character in and of itself! I actually wrote my last blog entry about the North Carolina setting being key in my books. Great review!

  18. I love when readers and reviewers pick up on the setting as a character in and of itself! I actually wrote my last blog entry about the North Carolina setting being key in my books. Great review!

  19. I think I’m going to check the library for the audio of this one. I’ve not read a bad review.
    Thanks for a thoughtful review

  20. I think I’m going to check the library for the audio of this one. I’ve not read a bad review.
    Thanks for a thoughtful review

  21. I have been hearing a lot about this book, but still haven’t tried to read it myself. I had it out from the library one time, but it didn’t get read. One day I will try!

  22. I have been hearing a lot about this book, but still haven’t tried to read it myself. I had it out from the library one time, but it didn’t get read. One day I will try!

  23. Great review! I really liked this book too – I agree with you that the author did a great job of making the atmosphere one of the most important elements of the story.

  24. Great review! I really liked this book too – I agree with you that the author did a great job of making the atmosphere one of the most important elements of the story.

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