Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

by Tom Franklin

Debbie Weiss (03/19/12): I really thought that this was an excellent book. The plot has been discussed by Judy, Gail and Dale already so I will not elaborate any more on that. I would like to say that I saw the author, Tom Franklin, speak at the Roswell Reads luncheon last week and really enjoyed listening to what he had to say. While this book is not an autobiography, Tom sees a lot of himself in the character of Larry. Both were raised in the south where men were supposed to be hunters and "good with their hands," but both Larry and Tom were quiet, enjoying the solitude of reading. It is amazing how one incident and one lie can change a person's life forever.
Rating: ****

Dale Israel (03/04/12): Gail and Judy have done a nice job of summarizing this book I so I'll get straight to the chase: sorry ladies but I have to disagree with your glowing reviews. While I enjoyed reading this book and found it interesting, I didn't just LOVE it...like it? Yes. Did it engage me? Yes. However, I didn't find this to be an easy read and frequently found myself reading and re-reading passages. The author certainly has a way with words, but it didn't always "flow." At times, I wanted to shout "I got it! This is a small Southern town! Enough with the description already!" How would I rate this book? If we were grading using letters, I'd probably give it a "B" but with the current system I'd probably rate it a 3+. It's better than a 3 but less than a 4. That being said, I liked the book well enough to make plans to hear the author speak when he comes to town in a few weeks. Liked it, didn't love it.
Rating: ***+

Gail Reid (02/26/12): Silas "32" Jones moves back to a sleepy, Mississippi town to work as a constable about 25 years after he left for a college baseball scholarship. In racially-charged Mississippi during the 70's, a friendship between the black Silas and a white boy named Larry Ott was a secret with strange overtones. Silas's mother was a housekeeper for the Ott's before she became pregnant and ran off to Chicago. When Larry's first high school date Cindy disappears and is never found, the community judges Larry guilty and ostracizes him for decades.

When another teenager disappears, the now 40-year old reclusive Larry is assumed again to be the killer until Constable Jones unravels both crimes with keen insight and personal revelation.

The author, Tom Franklin, is a southerner who does a bang-up job writing of rural Mississippi, racial prejudice, family dysfunction and poverty. The unsolved crime is pervasive throughout the novel and makes for a page-turning experience. Great reading and great writing equal a 5 star book.
Rating: *****

Judy Stanton (02/26/12): The Roswell Read of the year, Crooked Letter/Crooked Letter is an interesting study of life in the South in the l970s, and a story that merits a book-club type discussion. But it's more than just a story of whites not accepting blacks and blacks not accepting whites. In fact, nothing is "black and white" in the story...as in life, there are lots of shades of gray. It is a well-written story set in a small town in Mississippi that takes on difficult issues including bullying; domestic abuse; friendship; the justice system; and family relationships. In many ways, I feel like it is reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird....the secretive, quiet man that no one knows who is really a kindly soul; people willing to place blame without evidence; and lead characters determining how to "do! the right thing." A very good read. 4+
Rating: ****+

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