Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Title: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Author: Tom Franklin
ISBN: 9780062048745
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2010
eBook, 304 pages
Genre: Thriller
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased from Barnes and Noble.

First Line: The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.

The last thing Larry Ott needed was finding that monster because his life has been one very long row to hoe. Only child of lower-middle-class white parents, Larry has always been on the outside looking in. Bad at sports, preferring books and trivia... the only time Larry ever felt as though he belonged was the fleeting few months back in the late 1970s when he became friends with Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. Things happened, words were spoken; the two boys grew apart. Silas became known as "32" due to his talent on the playing field, and Larry was the kid everyone laughed at until the night that he took a girl out on a date.

Larry's date never came home. Her body was never found. Teenaged Larry kept telling the police that he didn't have anything to do with the girl's disappearance, but the whispers grew, and the fingers kept pointing. Larry is growing old under the heavy, mildewed blanket of suspicion while former friend Silas is a police officer in town. When another girl disappears, the small town sages nod their heads, whisper, point their fingers-- and once again Larry hears footsteps coming up to his front door. But this time, this girl's disappearance is going to make Larry and Silas dig up and expose a past that they've kept buried for decades.

Author Tom Franklin swiftly introduced me to Larry Ott, misfit and social outcast. By stockpiling the minutiae of Ott's life, Franklin not only got me acquainted with a very sympathetic character, he showed me how a life can be forcibly reduced and shrunken bit by bit-- each detail fitting carefully into place like the last section of bricks in a wall. The contrast between Ott's life and that of Silas could not be greater, but as their stories are told, the facts don't quite add up. The wrong mortar has been used in building the wall around Ott. That wall needs to come down; the truth needs to come to light. The fight may have been leeched out of Larry, but will Silas have the strength to do what's right?

The language, the setting, the story, and the two characters of Larry and Silas held me captive until I finished this book. I was able to piece together what had happened to the girl who disappeared when Larry was a teenager, so that came as no surprise. What held me was needing to know what Silas would do. In many ways Silas had a brick wall built around him, too. That's the type of thing that hatred and prejudice and suspicion does. It takes real courage to make the wall topple. I knew that Larry wasn't strong enough to send his wall tumbling down, and I wasn't convinced that Silas could do it either.I had to keep reading so that I could know for sure.

Two characters that make you care about them. The ability to right an old wrong. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is very good reading.



10 comments:

  1. Cathy - What a wonderful book, and I'm glad you liked it as much as you did. For me, the real pull of the novel was the way Franklin explores alienation and racism without losing sight of the main plot points. And the characters and atmosphere are, I think, very well-drawn.

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    1. That is one of its strengths-- everyone who reads it can pull something different from it. Alienation is a very strong theme here, and Franklin made me feel it.

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  2. I really liked this book too. I read it with my book club and everyone enjoyed it.

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    1. I think it would be very difficult not to like it, although I'm sure there was a person or two who didn't. As a wise soul once said: "No two people read the same book."

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  3. I have to agree..this was a very good read.

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    1. I have to admit that the major reason why I read it was due to the reviews from fellow book bloggers that I'd read!

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  4. I've had this one on my wish list forever because I've read such good reviews. I love a book with characters you care about and a meaningful issue involved. Must get it and read it.

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    1. I think you'd really enjoy it, Barbara.

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  5. Everyone seems to like this book. I already have a copy, just need time to read it.

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    1. Time and/or a second pair of eyes? Know the feeling!

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