Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
African-American Constable Silas Jones must confront his white former friend Larry Ott, who has lived under suspicion for 20 years since a girl disappeared while on a date with him, after another girl disappears and Larry is blamed once again. By the Edgar Award-winning author of
Tom Franklin's extraordinary talent has been hailed by the leading lights of contemporary literature?Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Lee Smith, and Dennis Lehane. Reviewers have called his fiction "ingenious" (USA Today) and "compulsively readable" (Memphis Commercial Appeal). His narrative power and flair for character-ization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.
Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far?an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county?and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.
More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.
African-American Constable Silas Jones must confront his white former friend Larry Ott, who has lived under suspicion for twenty years since a girl disappeared while on a date with him, after another girl disappears and Larry is blamed once again.
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A nubile co-ed is missing from the same small, rural Mississippi town where another young woman had disappeared twenty-five years earlier—the mystery unsolved, her body never found. So begins Tom Franklin’s stellar novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Socially-awkward Larry Ott was 16 years old when Cindy Walker, both beautiful and popular, asked him out on a date. That momentous occasion—at least through Larry’s eyes—was the point when his young life began a downward slide from which it would not recover. Walker was never seen again. Although no evidence was ever found connecting him to the girl’s disappearance, the townspeople unanimously convicted Larry without the benefit of any trial. Shunned and taunted, he became the local pariah. Years later when Tina Rutherford also disappears, “Scary” Larry is the prime suspect. But there’s a major problem--Larry is discovered in his house with a bullet wound to the chest. Barely alive, he’s transported to the hospital where he remains in a coma. The popular theory around town is that Larry’s guilt precipitated his own suicide attempt. Although he mostly kept to himself while growing up, Larry had had one important but short friendship. That friend, Silas Jones, known as “32” from his impressive baseball days, is the town’s deputy constable. As a teen, Silas had eventually distanced himself from Larry. When the second girl evaporates into thin air, Silas knows his former friend could not have committed the unthinkable crime. He also knows he must come clean about Cindy Walker’s disappearance all those years ago. A “crooked letter” was a mnemonic device used to help children with spelling the difficult word Mississippi—m, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, humpback (p), humpback (p), i.
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