Here’s another book recommendation for you. I already missed one day and if I go two days without telling you all about a good book or movie, then it’s all over with. This would just hurt you ’cause if I recommend it, then it’s worth checking out. That’s a fact.
“In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32″ Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.
More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other “friend” to confront a past they’ve buried for decades.”
At first I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start another small town, rural murder mystery as I had just finished Joe R. Lansdale’s A Fine Dark Line and The Bottoms back-to-back (I’ll talk about those two later). But what the hell, you only live once, right? Besides, ever since I’ve purchased me a Kindle (which you can too for the low, low price of $79), the time it takes for me to read books seems to have decreased dramatically.
After reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, I now have another author to add to my watch list. The plot isn’t overly complicated or so complex that you are left scratching your head or ignoring plot-holes after reading, even though it does shift between time periods and point of views.
The past is told from the viewpoint of the reclusive Larry Ott, or as the townsfolk like to call him, “Scary Larry,” when he was an awkward, socially inept boy with a love for comic books and horror novels. The exact opposite of his father who doesn’t even attempt to disguise the disgust and disappointment he harbors towards the boy. Larry’s tale is largely tragic and unfair yet presented in such a believable fashion that I swear to God he will remind you of those quiet, strange kids you probably remember from school.
The present is told from Silas Jones’ perspective as the town’s constable investigating a young girl’s disappearance that may have ties to a missing girl he and Larry once knew when they were kids. Larry and Silas were exact opposites. Larry white, Silas black. Larry into reading horror stories, Silas into football. Larry unable to make a friend, Silas the star of the school’s football team. But the two click for a brief period of their lives, each taking from the other what they lacked in themselves, forming a secret, short lived friendship that would affect their entire life.
As the story progresses, you are fed chunks of the boy’s past history and their strange friendship that help you understand why Larry is the introverted horror fan he is, the only employee at his father’s garage that no one ever visits, and why Silas has never, in 20 years, attempted to contact Larry ever since the night Larry took a neighbor out to a movie and she was never seen or heard from again.
It’s not hard to figure out exactly what is going on in Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, the mystery of the missing girls and the secret Silas keeps that stops him from rekindling his childhood friendship with Larry becoming pretty obvious early on. But it was refreshing to have a good idea of where the story was headed, like a mountain in the horizon, and just sitting back to enjoy the ride. Franklin really nails the atmosphere of a small, Southern town and those of you who experienced it will probably agree. He does just as well with showing the complexities of how friendships are kindled and how they are broken, while touching on loyalty and the need for companionship.
Even though Publisher’s Weekly said the ending was “heavy-handed,” I felt it was the only ending that would do the story justice. This book had just enough mystery, thrills, and just damn good writing to keep me reading on the toilet long after I had finished using it. Seriously, you can’t get a better recommendation than that. Pick up Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter in all the usual formats; Hardcover, paperback, the Mighty Kindle for only $2.99, and even an audiobook.
Next up, especially with Halloween approaching, I’ll talk about some great horror movies you may have missed.Tags: book, cracked spine, Crime, Crooked Letter Crooked Letter, Mystery, review, thriller, Tom Franklin