It’s not often a book insinuates itself into my “Favorite Books Ever” list; I’ve read some amazing literature over the decades, and I hold many titles dear: The Mists of Avalon, Ender’s Game, The Help, Contact, Dances with Wolves, Going After Cacciato, Ishmael, Snow Crash… so many others that don’t come immediately to the weary mind.
Now, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin joins the ranks of the favorites. I love his voice, I love his descriptions, I love his varied sentence structure. Here’s the opening:
“THE RUTHERFORD GIRL had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.
Two of my favorite books from the last year have taken place in Mississippi, and both have been about race relations, told mostly from a black protagonist’s perspective.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a multiple-murder mystery set in a small Mississippi mill town in the present day. We see the story mostly from the perspective of Silas, the town constable, an immensely likable and rich character. Occasionally, we take the perspective of Larry, the town outcast.
The writing is superb, the characters detailed and vivid, with few exceptions. Franklin gives the reader sufficient hints to figure things out and still feel pretty good for having done so, without completely telegraphing the entire story too early on. In one review I read prior to the book itself, the reviewer wrote of a “deeply satisfying ending,” and I could not agree more.
There are certainly enough opportunities for things to go horribly awry and make for an unhappy ending for any number of characters, but Franklin manages to keep the reader’s faith and attention, and carries on to what is, indeed, a really satisfying ending. A sentence more would have been too much, a paragraph less wouldn’t have been enough.
It’s not a vast, sweeping, epic tale like The Mists of Avalon, but it is a really good book.
I can’t say much more without stealing some of the pleasure of the read from anyone who might pick the book up, and I certainly don’t want to do that. What I do want to do, though, is to encourage you to buy or borrow this book soon. It’s a short and sweet read, less than 250 pages – one afternoon’s dalliance, perhaps two. You won’t be sorry you took that time, and I bet you might even search out Franklin’s other titles, as I have done.