Book Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

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A drama played out from childhood to adulthood, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter shows us two men who have to accept their past in order to face their future.

From Goodreads:
In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county— and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.

I’m kinda on the fence about this one. Well written with an interesting premiss, this book definitely has that 70’s feel. This book excels at taking you back to 1970’s small town Mississippi as the author paints pictures with words in regards to location and feeling. Unfortunately though, to me, it felt stifling and depressing.

This book teeters between childhood and adulthood and is told from the perspective of Larry and Silas, two childhood friends who grow apart due to circumstances beyond their control. Although the synopsis indicates a strong friendship, I had a hard time making this connection. Yes, they spent time together, but not enough to make me feel like they really liked each other or were best friends.

Larry’s whole life just made me sad. “Scary Larry” is constantly ill-treated and outcast by townspeople and harassed by authorities in his adult life even though he was never convicted of the murder they thought he committed.

For Silas, adulthood seemed kinder. Moving away after high school and returning to a job as constable, he ignores Larry until circumstances reunite them and they are forced to reconcile.

There’s a little mystery going on as to who recently killed another teenage girl and Larry is again a prime suspect. The mystery really isn’t the main focus and the outcome and the question of who did it are predictable.

Although information comes out that links Larry and Silas in more ways than one, there was no shocking moment of truth.

It’s a drama, and a good one, but not a feel good one. There’s no real mystery or life changing revelations, but it’s a good drama about how confronting your past can be painful but necessary.

View this book on Goodreads.

View this book on Amazon.

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