Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin


Thursdays With Maureen Book Club's July selection was Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter winner of the 2010 LA Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller.  Strangely (to me anyway) some of the group did not know the reference to "crooked letter crooked letter" which is how children are taught to spell the word "Mississippi".  I suppose that if you didn't learn that as a child you wouldn't know from the title that this book is set in Mississippi.

It's classified as a mystery but the murder mystery is secondary to the unlikely friendship between the two main characters, one black, the other white.  Bookreporter says "like all great works, it transcends any particular genre to stand on it's own".

Ron Charles in his Washington Post review said  "Franklin, an Edgar-winning writer of atmospheric tales, deserves an audience to match the praise he's attracted for Poachers, Hell at the Breech and Smonk.  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".  

Tom Franklin's writing has been compared to that of Harper Lee, William Faulkner and Elmore Leonard.  He is currently Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing at Ole Miss. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Willie Morris Prize for Southern Fiction.

There is something about reading a Southern novel during the hottest days of summer.  This summer in the Midwest offered up many days over 90 degrees with temps as high as 103.  So, the hot steamy days seemed just right for getting to know Larry Ott, the town oddball, who prayed that God would deliver a friend for him.  The town thinks he had something to do with a missing girl back when he was in high school so he remains a permanent outcast.  His childhood friend, Silas "32" Jones, now the town constable, also shuns Larry.  When another girl goes missing it forces the two estranged friends to confront their past.  Take in the rich Southern atmosphere created by one of our best contemporary writers.

 By the way, this Southern state is spelled "m,i,crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, humpback, humpback, i". 

Author Tom Franklin

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