Thursday, February 17, 2011


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

Larry Ott has learned to get through life one day at a time. He's been ostracized by the people of his rural Mississippi town ever since Cindy Walker went missing after their "date" back in high school. People don't talk to Larry, they don't patronize his service station and they certainly don't associate with him. However, when another young girl goes missing, the local law enforcement is more than happy to start looking right at Larry as the prime suspect.

CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is a book that hits me in one of the softest places in my heart: people's callous mistreatment of each other. Franklin handles the theme with kid gloves, making it all the more effective. Larry is a young man who has wanted nothing more from life than a friend, and this desire opens him up to the selfishness of others.

The crimes in this novel, the two missing girls, play a secondary role in the plot. Instead Franklin focuses on the interrelationships of the characters and how their environment influences those relationships. The richness of the characters, the dialogue, the setting development all contribute to the intensity of emotion Franklin is able to elicit from the reader.

Franklin's use of language is exquisite. The tone of the novel mimics the loneliness of Larry and the internal struggles of Silas, the town constable who is carrying around heavy secrets. Every so often, Franklin sneaks in some situational humor to contrast the "old boys" off-color and tasteless jokes.

Through these beautiful characters, Franklin reminds us of the ugliness humans can inflict on one another. CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is a highly emotional, eloquent study of the human spirit and one we can all stand to read regularly. Franklin is a true master and CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER should be considered required reading.

Kevin Kenerly narrated this audiobook from Blackstone Audio. I would imagine that authors like Tom Franklin are hard to do justice, but I believe Kenerly did a fine job. He brought out the tone of both the rural southern community and the lonely, aching outsider. Kenerly also did a commendable job with the various dialects and genders. He maintained a leisurely pace befitting Southern Mississippi while emphasizing elements of intense emotion or fear. The production of this audiobook pays a fine tribute to the beautiful story being read.

CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is available in print from William Morrow (ISBN: 978-0-060-59466-4) and on audio from Blackstone Audio (ISBN: 978-1-4417-6344-0)


rhapsodyinbooks February 17, 2011 at 8:28 AM  

I loved this book too. I was delighted to see it's on the Pulitzer consideration "long list" so it will get the additional attention it deserves!

Jenn's Bookshelves February 17, 2011 at 8:44 AM  

I've owned this book for what seems like ages, never having the time to get to it. Maybe audiobook is the route I should take!

Janel February 17, 2011 at 12:11 PM  

I enjoyed reading this book as well. His writing is really amazing. Glad to hear the audiobook version is well done as well.

Janet Rudolph February 17, 2011 at 4:05 PM  

Loved this book and put it on my top 10 for 2010!

Christine February 17, 2011 at 5:01 PM  

This is one I've been circling in the bookstores for a while, now I'm convinced I need to bring it home.

Thanks for this and great review, Jen.

Judy Bobalik February 18, 2011 at 9:12 AM  

I just finished this over the weekend. I loved it.

Beth F February 19, 2011 at 8:36 AM  

I have heard nothing but good about this title -- print and audio. I really need to give it a try.

JoAnn February 22, 2011 at 8:42 AM  

This book is definitely in my future... just can't decide whether to read or listen!

SuziQoregon February 27, 2011 at 8:11 PM  

I loved this book. I read it but I think I'm going to have to get the audio for a re-read. I've seen Kevin Kennerly perform onstage many times in many different roles at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival so his voice is very familiar to me. I'd love to hear him read this.

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP