Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
By Tom Franklin
(William Morrow Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780060594671, 304pp.)
Publication Date: June 2011
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In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.
More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other "friend" to confront a past they've buried for decades.
Tom Franklin is the author of Hell at the Breech and Poachers. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their three children. He teaches at the University of Mississippi.
The title of Tom Franklin's new book is Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. If you know what that means, then you can also probably imagine the Deep South small town, the legacy of racism and the economic despair that shape the characters. Guest host Rebecca Roberts speaks with Franklin about his novel, part crime drama, part coming-of-age story and part portrait of a small town largely left behind by the 21st century. More at NPR.org
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- The epigraph reveals the origins of the novel's title. Why do you think Tom Franklin chose to use "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter"? What significance does it hold for the story?
“A ripping good mystery, this novel also has depth and a subtle literary side, as the local area comes to life through the writer’s cinematic descriptive phrases and a large and colorful cast of supporting characters. Highly recommended.”
-Library Journal (starred review)
“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.”
“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.”
“Beautiful writing, a spot-on sense of place, wickedly funny dialogue, and an emotionally potent story charge this highly original, literary crime offering from master stylist Tom Franklin.”
“A masterful performance, deftly rendered and deeply satisfying. For days on end, I woke with this story on my mind.”
“[A] terrific new novel….If you’re looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is your next book.”