Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Franklin, Tom

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Baker & Taylor
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 Hell at the Breech. 35,000 first printing.


“The classic trifecta of talent, heart, and a bone-deep sense of storytelling….A masterful performance, deftly rendered and deeply satisfying. For days on end, I woke with this story on my mind.”
— David Wroblewski

“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

A powerful and resonant novel from Tom Franklin—critically acclaimed author of Smonk and Hell at the BreechCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells the riveting story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. An extraordinary novel that seamlessly blends elements of crime and Southern literary fiction, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a must for readers of Larry Brown, Pete Dexter, Ron Rash, and Dennis Lehane.

& Taylor

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.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060594664
Branch Call Number: FIC F
Characteristics: 274 p. ; 24 cm.


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Nov 08, 2013
  • mrs_sweeney rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Enjoyed the story and the characters. It did feel that the story was an edited version made for TV or the movies where there is only so much time to develop the characters and certain scenes have been edited out. You know that movie you watched and want to read the book to find out what you missed

Jul 16, 2013
  • DeltaQueen50 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin is much more than a simple mystery, this atmospheric story touches on the racism that is still very prevalent today and tells the story of two men of different races that share a past and secrets that are about to come bubbling to the surface.

Jul 11, 2013
  • hellandback rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Surprised to find out that this is an Edgar-Award-winning writer. The murder mystery is the weakest aspect to this novel of a rural southern town which still holds a grudge against poor misfut Larry Ott, suspected-but-not-convicted of the disappearance/murder of a teen girl many years before and still admires the high school baseball skills of Silas '32' Jones who has returned as constable. Very slow narration, unsatisfying 'solution' to the mystery, and mostly unlikable characters make this one hard to go down. Interesting that the black/white dynamic is turned inside out here as the pariah is white and the 'hero' is black. Haunting, tragic portrait of Larry is the only thing that saves this mostly mess of a read.

May 25, 2013
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The book was okay – but not one of my favorites.

May 09, 2013
  • JCLGreggW rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Sometimes you come across a book that not only you enjoy, but one that really stays with you for a while. CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is a wonderful, haunting, elegantly written novel about two boys who cross paths in rural Mississippi and how their lives connect back again as adults. The main character, 32 Jones, was a baseball star in high school but is now a local constable, at the bottom of the police ladder, directing traffic and writing parking tickets after being raised by a single mom who worked double shifts to keep the family afloat. Childhood friend Larry Ott grew up in a two-parent home, and now runs his father's auto repair shop, but lives a solitary existence after being the main suspect in the disappearance of a teen girl years ago that was never conclusively proven - he's lived under the shadow of that ever since. The two reconnect after another local girl goes missing, digging up loads of history and hidden connections between them as 32 gets drawn into the case. Franklin has an immaculate sense of place - rural Mississippi is a character unto itself, and Franklin creates characters and speech that feel genuine and real. Like I said, this book is one of those that sticks with you long after you put it back on the shelf, and is worth seeking out. If you're interested in other literary mystery novels with strong characters and an equally strong sense of place, check out THE NIGHT GARDENER by George Pelecanos or THE POACHER'S SON by Paul Doiron.

Feb 27, 2013
  • Lucchesa rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is a being billed as a mystery, and if that gets people to read it, fantastic, because it is much more than that. Tom Franklin knows this slice of the rural South, its weaknesses and its grace, and he writes beautifully about the woods, the food, the auto repair shop no one patronizes, the police department with its token black officer.

The book goes back and forth in time between a girl's disappearance when the main characters were in high school and a possibly related shooting in the present, a couple of decades later. His characterizations are pitch perfect, heartrending - the horror-fiction-obsessed nerd's disastrous first and only date, the star athlete's failure of courage. It is ultimately a meditation on race, ostracism, and friendship, and Franklin packs a lot of humanity into 300 pages.

Dec 17, 2012
  • fcalvillo rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is one of the best novels I've read in some time. It's a crime novel, yes, but equally compelling is the story of the relationship between two men. Beautifully written, touching and suspenseful, with a strong sense of place (the Deep South). Highly recommended!

Aug 03, 2012
  • DL7173 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A very enjoyable and interesting story and characters, set in rural Mississipi.

Jul 24, 2012
  • mkmoores rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Enjoyed this book so much, I've checked out Hell at the Breech.

Jun 04, 2012
  • smc01 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This novel's two main characters are very well developed, and the story line is compelling. The sense of place is well portrayed - very small town Mississippi. The relationship between Larry and Silas is complex and touching. This would be a great summer weekend read.

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Mar 14, 2011
  • Algonquin_Lisa rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Algonquin_Lisa thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Nov 11, 2013
  • spotSYgirl rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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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Jul 03, 2012
  • Sirimarie rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Was that what childhood was? Things rushing by out a window, the trees connected by motion, going too fast for him to notice the consequences?


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