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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Paperback – 7 Jan 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (7 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230753051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230753051
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.2 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 839,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Unforgettable characters populate Tom Franklin's latest crime novel, which is lyrical, wickedly funny and deeply satisfying. A superbly crafted and profoundly moving read; it might just be his best yet.'

'Franklin has a superb ear for dialogue and a perfect sense of place... An absolutely brilliant novel.' --Reader's Digest

'This masterful crime novel is distinguished by its brilliant plotting and unforgettable characters' --Northants News

'Southern gothic is alive and well. Nothing's happened in Amos, Mississippi, since a teenage girl disappeared after a date with Larry Ott, some 20 years ago. He was never proved guilty. Decades later, it all turns ugly.' --The Mirror - 4 stars

'The perfect combination of beautiful prose and plot intrigue' --Esquire Esquire Esquire

'The characters jump off the page and into your thoughts.' --Prima magazine

'Think Cormac McCarthy with some light let in, or Annie Poulx.' --Transmitter magazine

'It is one of those stories that wraps you in its setting, ties you to its characters, and imprisons you until its end. One of the best books of the year, whatever else happens in the next 10 months.' --irresistibletargets and Crime Time blogs

'Both Larry and Silas are superbly drawn and fully fleshed characters, their personalities and conflict chthonic to rural Mississippi but luminously relevant, in Franklin's hands, to any locale on the planet... Factor in a mesmerising evocation of rural Mississippi, language of sinuous and shimmering elegance, and a finely tuned ear for the nuances of dialogue, and you have a novel that is an early contender for one of the great novels of the year.' --Declan Burke, Irish Times

`Larry and Silas, white and black, boyhood friends in rural Mississippi 30 years ago, are separated by an apparent crime that changes their lives. This beautifully crafted thriller has a powerful sense of time and place, and explores the nature of friendship and bigotry. One the year's finest novels.'
--Financial Times

From the Back Cover

'Superb. Dark, brooding, beautifully written' The Times Books of the Year

Amos, Mississippi, is a quiet town. Silas Jones is its sole law enforcement officer. The last excitement here was nearly twenty years ago, when a teenage girl disappeared on a date with Larry Ott, Silas's one-time boyhood friend. The law couldn't prove Larry guilty, but Amos's residents have shunned him ever since.

Then the town's peace is shattered when someone tries to kill the reclusive Ott, another young woman goes missing, and the town's drug dealer is murdered. Woven through the tautly written mystery is the unspoken secret that hangs over the lives of two men - one black, one white.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year, is a masterful novel, sizzling with deep Southern menace.

'A beautifully crafted thriller. This award-winning crime novel invited comparisons with To Kill A Mockingbird' Financial Times Books of the Year

'Franklin's prose is startlingly beautiful . . . But what sticks at the end is Franklin's shattering, heartbreaking depiction of loneliness' Observer Books of the Year

'Beautiful writing, a spot-on sense of place and an emotionally potent story charge this highly original, literary crime offering' George Pelecanos

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anderton on 17 Mar 2011
Format: Paperback
I've never written a review before but this book has moved me to do so. It was recommended to me by an American lady whom I met on holiday - we swapped British and USA authors. This is a really memorable book - I won't go into the nitty gritty as Gail Cooke has captured the essence so well and articulately in another review. What I will say that it's such a cleverly written novel and reveals twists and turns on a need-to-know basis that there's always something exciting happening. The characters are well-drawn and believable - the main characters have foibles unlike the characters in many bestsellers. I couldn't put this book down and it remained with me for days I urge you to read it.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Oct 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
"The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house." With the first sentence it's clear that CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER will be a humdinger of a thriller. What it takes two or three pages to realize is that not only is it a first-rate thriller, but also a beautiful, trenchant observation of rural Mississippi some 30 years ago. Tom Franklin's Southern dialogue is pinpoint perfection, his scenes painterly, bringing to our mind's eye Chabot, a small decaying town and its inhabitants, so vivid it is as if we were seeing everything and everyone in wide screen color.

Yet it is the story that holds us as it is told through the eyes of Larry and Silas, alternating between the days of their youth and adulthood. As a boy Larry is a loner, ostracized and bullied by his classmates because all he does is read (Stephen King and other horror stories), belittled by his father, Carl, whom Larry understood to like "most everyone except him. From an early bout of stuttering, through a sickly, asthmatic childhood, through hay fever and allergies, frequent bloody noses, glasses he kept breaking, he'd inched into the shambling, stoop-shouldered pudginess of the dead uncles on his mother's side." Called "Scary Larry" by schoolmates he was not a pretty picture, yet he remained a gentle soul.

Each night when his mother prayed with him at bedtime she asked for a friend for Larry, someone just for him. And then then an unlikely friend appeared - Silas, an African-American son of a poor single mother who worked two jobs. Their friendship was brief, just a few months, ending when Larry had his first date. He took a girl to a drive-in movie, and she apparently disappeared.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Maxine Clarke VINE VOICE on 10 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a marvellous book; one that, after you have read it, makes you want to go out and buy multi-copies to give to all your friends for Christmas, and one which inspires the sentiment: "if you only read one novel this year, make it this one". Since its original publication in the USA, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter has been a bestseller as well as being extremely well reviewed. I hadn't paid it any attention, though, until it won this year's CWA Gold Dagger award the day before I spotted a copy in my local library - so I thought I'd give it a try.

The novel is set in rural Mississippi, telling the tale, switching back and forth in time, of two boys - Silas Jones, a baseball player who becomes a poorly paid traffic cop, and Larry Ott, an ostracised countryman and car mechanic. The first chapter pulls the reader in straight away, describing Larry's lonely lifestyle in his parents' house; his childhood memories of family tensions; the jobs he's devised at home and "work"; and his strange welcoming of what seems to be a certain death.

The story unfolds of Larry's past as he grew up in the impoverished hamlet of Chabot, which boasts a lumber mill and not much else in terms of employment prospects. Larry's father runs Ottomotive, a car repair shop, but is disappointed in his son's lack of mechanical ability and treats him as if he's a wimp because he is always reading (largely horror stories and comics). Larry is very close to his mother, but never manages to make friends at school. His parents have a few hundred acres of land, which do not seem to be used for anything agricultural apart from supporting some chickens. The nearest cabin is owned by Cecil Walker, another drunk who is on permanent disability after a long-ago accident at the mill.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Will on 31 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Along with Philip Meyer's American Rust and Willy Vlautin's Lean on Pete, this is one of the most memorable, rewarding and moving novels to come out of America in recent years. Although it falls in that difficult territory - a literary thriller (and will probably suffer because of it, in terms of sales) - it deserves to find a significant readership: this is fiction with real heart and soul, and two characters, in Larry and Silas, who will stay with you for a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. A. B. Moulson on 15 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book because unusually it had good characterisation of the main characters. It had a good story and the action took place over a period of years. It is set in Mississippi with great attention to the detail of the setting. It is beautifully written and I did not have any idea who the perpetrator of the murders was until the very end. A very good read.
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