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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter Paperback – 1 Jul 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Jul 2011
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (1 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330533568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330533560
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 290,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Tom Franklin's heart-tuggingly melancholic Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter was a standout slice of beautiful writing. Superb dialogue, scuffed social realism and painterly description bring alive the Mississippi backwater where the tangled history between ostracised Larry Ott and popular police officer Silas Jones is exposed by the disappearance of a girl. Franklin's powerfully imagined characters are captivating, and the sadness of the story indelibly stains your soul. (Metro -Books of the Year)

This award winning crime novel that invited comparisons with To Kill A Mockingbird tells the story of white and black boyhood friends in rural Mississippi, separated by an apparent crime that changes their lives. A beautifully crafted thriller that explores the nature of friendship and bigotry. (Financial Times - Books of the Year)

Guilt suffuses the pages of Mississippi author Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter as well. Franklin's prose is startlingly beautiful, the novel worth reading purely for his evocation of Mississippi. But what sticks at the end is Franklin's shattering, heart-breaking depiction of loneliness. A deserving winner of the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year. (Observer - Best Books of the Year)

Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter deservedly won the Crime Writers' Association Golden Dagger for the year's best crime novel. It's a dark, brooding, beautifully written story of a cross-racial friendship dominated by two mysteries nearly two decades apart . . . Franklin's portrayal of small-town paranoia and racial politics is superb, as is his moving treatment of his main, damaged, characters. (The Times - Best Crime Books of the Year)

Elegantly plotted, deftly characterised, superbly written, not a word out of place. (Guardian)

Beautiful writing, a spot-on sense of place, wickedly funny dialogue, and an emotionally potent story charge this highly original, literary crime offering. (George Pelecanos)

A new Tom Franklin novel is always a reason to get excited, but Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is more a cause for celebration. What a great novel by a great novelist. (Dennis Lehane)

Long after the other 75 novels of suspense you've read this year merge in your memory, you'll vividly recall this novel. Franklin has written not just a thriller of the first order, but a very fine novel, indeed. (Richard Russo)

This harrowing tale, told with ease and control, tracks back and forth across the adult lives and harsh schooldays of two Southern boys . . . Among the tensions in the book are humiliating childhood incidents and countervailing adult insights slow learning of and from early crimes and misdemeanours? It's a literary crime-mystery for dark evenings. (Irish Times)

This book will have you enthralled for it is more than just another crime novel. Written in two timeframes, it explores the relationship between two young boys, the nature of suspicion and the solving of a mystery... The characters are engaging and there is just enough menace in the writing to keep you turning the pages. (Press Association)

This taut thriller, based around two murders 20 years apart, skilfully explores issues of race, friendship and class in rural America. Franklin has written a meticulously unravelled tale of dark family secrets that enthralls to the last paragraph. (Waterstone’s Book Quarterly)

Book Description

Universally lauded, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is the story of Larry Ott and Silas Jones. Larry Ott is the town pariah, in his teens he took a girl on a date and she was never seen again. Larry Ott swore he was innocent, and nothing was ever proved, but he lives an isolated life, with no friends and is often asked to no longer frequent certain shops and even churches. He stands in the community as a murderer and he serves a life sentence of their prejudice.

Now another girl has gone missing. All fingers point to Larry Ott. Then a body is found under his porch.

Silas Jones is the local cop. It's his job to find the missing girl, his job to investigate Larry Ott. But, he was once Larry Ott's boyhood friend, at a time when white boys and black boys didn't socially mix. Like the rest of the town, Larry makes him uncomfortable and like everybody else he has backed away. Faced with a fresh investigation Silas has to confront their shared past.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter has rave reviews on Amazon from Philip Roth to Dennis Lehane and is rated as five stars. I feel I am almost "wrong" in not having the same effusive reaction to it as such luminaries.

It isn't that the story isn't good, the novels big moments are really great, particularly the two reveals near the end, one of which is perhaps a bit guessable. It's just that I found two elements quite poor the connective tissue, the prose between event and event I often found a bit tedious. In addition this supposedly pivotal, deep bond between Larry and Silas is ultimately a very short lived and fractured friendship when set down on page, and doesn't seem to warrant the nostalgia each has for it before the secrets of the past are revealed.

I was quite disappointed in that. But, it is a good story nonetheless 7/10
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