Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

by
3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  21,192 ratings  ·  3,421 reviews
Tom Franklin's narrative power and flair for characterization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.

Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far; an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pal

...more
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by William Morrow (first published October 5th 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Great Books of Southern Fiction
19th out of 162 books — 324 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
433rd out of 4,240 books — 9,838 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
karen

it is totally okay to float old reviews when you suddenly have a picture of yourself and the author to attach to them. also, when you are bored. but only once a day. anything more than that becomes boring. or desperate.



one of the best books i have read, ever.

and exactly what i was looking for when i posted my query in my very own readers' advisory group. so, thank you, james, this is a perfect suggestion to the kind of book i was looking for. and i am going to immerse myself in tom franklin's ba...more
Stephen
Gorgeous...

Gorgeous and dripping with emotion and ache...

This story OWNED ME from the opening page and LARRY OTT is among the most endearing, heart-wrenching characters I've come across in a long, long time. That I connected so well with both the story and its main character surprised me because, being born and raised in Vegas, my own life experience is so vastly different from both Larry and the town of Chabot, Mississippi, where the story takes place. I give heaping mounds of credit to author...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 09, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I.--How southern children are taught to spell Mississippi

Photobucket
Tom Franklin

My wife's family is from Prentiss, Mississippi not far from where the action of this book takes place. When her grandmother died a few years ago we went down for the funeral. This was my first time in Mississippi and I remember a couple of things about the experience. First, this is small town USA and there were two funeral homes. O...more
Nataliya
Sep 24, 2012 Nataliya rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nataliya by: Countless positive GR reviews
Oh, small-town, rural America, why must you scare me so? Why must this book, written about you, kill something inside me with every page? Why does it, and you by proxy, need to crush me with loneliness and sadness and desperation?



This is a profoundly sad book about sadness in life, which is sad. And I'm not even being a brat here when I say that. There's nothing about this story that's even remotely optimistic, even the quasi-hopeful ending is very sad, if you think about it.

And why wouldn't i...more
Kemper
The geeks may have seized a nice chunk of pop culture these days, but it’s too easy to forget that it wasn’t that long ago when reading and collecting comic books made you a bit odd. Long before remaking ’70s slasher films with as much blood as possible was considered mainstream entertainment, liking Stephen King novels or other horror books and movies might get your folks a closed door session with your teacher. Before Lord of the Rings made a gazillion dollars and won Oscars, you probably woul...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 14, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Jeffrey Keeten
It’s got a lot of heart, dark and dramatic with ambience in spades, does a great job depicting rural Mississippi. "A few paved roads and a lot of dirt ones, a land of sewer ditches and gullies stripped of their timber and houses and single-wides speckled back in the clear-cut like moles revealed by a haircut."
The point of view alternates between Silas Jones & Larry Ott, flashing back to their boyhood friendship - a friendship that ends when Larry is suspected of murder. Now Silas is back in...more
Jason
I want to be clear on the 3-star rating, folks. I liked this book. I swear. I just don’t believe it lived up to the potential I arbitrarily ascribed to it when I saw on the shelf of my local Stop & Shop’s aisle 7.

Guys, I can’t review books anymore. I don’t know if “reviewer burnout” is a real thing or if I’m just miserable because it’s only the second week of July and I am going to die from this heat, or if I’m rip roaring drunk (which I somewhat am), but I came home from visiting some frien...more
Nancy
It was Kemper's review that made me add this book to my shelf. It was Stephen's that made me rush to the library after work and grab a copy.

After reading Shine and Winter's Bone, I was hesitant about reading another depressing story set in the south, but I’m so glad I did.

Larry Ott had a tough childhood growing up in rural Mississippi. He was sickly and he had a stutter. He never quite fit in among his classmates, usually the butt of a joke or the target of a bully. His dad was cold, distant a...more
Mike
Jun 14, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: If Franklin writes it, I read it
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: Thoughts following a second reading

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

Read that first sentence. What? It doesn't grab you? Keep reading. It's like that long slow climb up to the peak of that first drop on the roller coaster. Hear the click of the chain pulling you to the top? After you hit the top, you're in for a ride.

Photobucket

First came this mean little collection of a novella and...more
Trudi
Guh! This book ... (flails helplessly) ... it is a gut puncher, heart-wrencher. Franklin is a poet, his prose sings, his characters walk off the page, and he puts the reader into a time and place that absolutely resonates with a vibrancy and brutal honesty all its own.

I was so sad -- so emotionally invested -- that I found the reading painful to bear at times. Franklin's descriptions of human isolation and loneliness are so raw and uncompromising I forced myself to take breathers between readin...more
Melki
My son came home from school last week with his outrageously overpriced yearbook. A lot of people had a lot of nice things to say about him, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. One kid wrote something that struck me as particularly nice:

In a few years I see you with a house, wife, and babies.
They will be stupendous, and we'll still be friends.


What I liked, besides the kid's use of the word "stupendous," was the "still be friends" part.
Will they still be friends? Who knows? Like much o...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Pearl Ruled: CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER by TOM FRANKLIN (p96)

Rating: one grudging star of five

This review has been revised and can be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.
Greg
I'm fairly certain that my reaction to books is dependent on things going on outside of the text itself. Certain books read at certain times of my life affected me in ways that I can't imagine they would affect me now. Other times the shit that is going on in my life makes me unable to give a book that I might otherwise really enjoy the kind of attention, or mood, or something that it really deserves.

Is this one of those books?

Maybe.

I see gushing reviews for this. And I went into expecting to...more
Will Byrnes
Worst first date ever. Poor Larry Ott, the bookish kid, the weak one, a smallish white boy, the bully-target at school, takes out the girl of his dreams, returns home alone, and gets blamed for her presumed rape and murder. Decades later, ostracized by the town, living alone in the same house he grew up in, tending his late, abusive father’s garage, another girl goes missing and all fingers point his way. Did he or didn’t he?

But Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells of two twisted lives. As a kid...more
Kathy
There are books that you read as you drift off to sleep, setting them aside and then coming back to them the next night. This is not that type of book. Based on my experience, this is the kind of book that you pick up at night and then read straight through, getting up several times to avoid sleep, in order to keep reading. From the first line, I was transfixed. While the book is well plotted and interesting, it was the characters that kept me turning the pages late last night. Larry Ott, town b...more
Bill
I didn't sleep well last night.

It was one of the very rare occurrences where I finish a book in bed without another one to pick up right away. You see, I hate being between books. When I finish one, I immediately choose another and begin it right away. But last night was an anomaly. Just the way things worked out.

So. Turning out the light immediately after finishing this left me
thinking about the whole thing for much of the night. I kept going over what it was that Franklin did that made me care...more
Gary
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
New York: HarperCollins, Publishers
$24.99 - 274 pages

“MI crooked letter, crooked letter I, crooked letter, crooked letter I, humpback, humpback, I”

(how southern children are taught to spell Mississippi.)

How many times have you heard the lament, “They don’t write southern novels the way they used to”? This statement is usually followed by a catalog of classics like To Kill a Mockingbird along with a few reverent references to Truman Capote, Carson McC...more
Reese
Aug 04, 2011 Reese rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Reese by: Kathy & Kristi
To write a review of this book, I had to consciously give myself permission not "to do it justice" because I'm not up to the challenge. Sorry -- especially since CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER puts the impact of injustice in the reader's face, belly, and heart. Besides injustice, Tom Franklin's novel is about finding missing pieces and putting them together, not about taking the whole apart. And so I won't explore pieces that scream "ANALYZE THIS" -- the novel's epigraph, its structure, the name...more
Tfitoby
Deceptively good.

Town outcast, missing teen girl, the obvious happens in the minds and attitudes of the townsfolk, cops get involved.

That's basically what they would have you believe this book was about. It's not, that's just stuff that happens in the background of the story of two middle aged men, former childhood friends, whose lives were changed by an unsavoury incident in their youth and how they come to deal with who they are and what they've done. In other words, literature.

I wanted to lov...more
Madeline
Something I learned about myself while reading this book: I am incapable of reading books that include a murder mystery but don't focus on the mystery aspect.

Look guys, I love detective novels. I love seeing how an author puts together a crime, presents the circumstances, and shows us the investigation process while disguising the real solution until the moment they're ready to give us the answer. It's fun to read about mysteries, so when I get a book that features a mystery but tries to distrac...more
Dem
Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin is a gripping and extremely well written mystery novel.

The story is set in a small town in Mississippi where boyhood pals Larry Ott and Silas 32 attend school. Larry was the child of lower white class white parents and Silas the son of a poor, black single mother. Larry took a girl to a drive in movie and she was never seen o heard from again. He never confessed and was never charged. More than twenty years pass and another girl has disappeared, forc...more
Becky
This was another Audible sale gem, though I had wanted to read it for more than two years before I found it there, so I'm not sure if I should count it.

I also followed along in the ebook copy while I listened, though, and I'm glad that I did. First, because the audio was... wonky, and it would sporadically go completely silent, like the recording stopped, or there were gaps or something, not like it was just a reader pause. There's a difference in the sound of that silence, and this was definit...more
Ed
4.5 Stars. Wow. Masterful characterization, multi-layered plot, eloquent prose, clear-eyed descriptions --- what's not to love about this top-drawer Southern literary crime novel? (The quirky title is taken from a nursery rhyme used to remember the correct spelling of Mississippi: "M-I-crooked letter, crooked letter...") At first, I was put off by the slow start, but I could see later why the full set up was necessary to the narrative. The tale of male friendship reminds me of Larry Brown's earl...more
Jennifer
The pain one feels while reading a sad story is not unwelcome. So many emotions branch off that sensation: love, understanding, longing, hope, and gratitude. Pain awakens us, we are alert and aware. We feel empathy for all of those who suffer. This was one of those heartbreaking stories. It takes place in a small town in rural Mississippi, where racism is still very much alive. The population is mostly black and Larry happens to be one of the few white boys in town. He was an outcast from the be...more
Chad Sayban
A mechanic living a solitary existence in a rural town in southeastern Mississippi, Larry Ott is surrounded by a town that despises him for his involvement in the disappearance of a girl twenty years earlier. Silas Jones was Larry’s only pal when they were in school. Now he is the town constable and when another girl suddenly goes missing, Silas is not just forced to confront the possibility that Larry was once again involved, he must confront his own past – which is swiftly catching up with him...more
Petertpc
One of the best books I have read in a long time. I don't even know how to begin describing the impact this had on me. It's a small-town mystery set in Mississippi, but it is really a story of people with damaged pasts that are having a difficult time living in their present. The characters come to life and feel so genuine and real that the pain they go through just makes you hurt inside. Definitely a book I think everyone should read.
Maciek
Smalltown America! This is the mythical land which has inspired and devoured so many souls. From the rural poverty and backwardness of the rural regions from all these horror movies, through the suface glitter and underbelly ugliness of Peyton Place, the riches of Stepford and the creepiness of Twin Peaks. Countless novels, movies and television series have been and continue to be set in such small towns, and are concerned with the lives and interactions of their inhabitants. And the land is mos...more
David
Mar 19, 2012 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poor white boys, poor black boys, Mississippians
This is a good ol' Southern mystery that really isn't that much of a mystery, since we know who the culprits are (and aren't) nearly as soon as they are introduced. However, there are some twists and revelations along the way. What this story is really about, though, is not a whodunnit, but the two characters who are inextricably and unwillingly tied to events that happened in both the present day and nearly 30 years ago.

The first of our protagonists, Larry Ott, gets shot in chapter one. From th...more
Ana Lopes
Oh. My .God. It happened. I knew it would happen. Reading the Faever books did make me stupid. It's the only thing I can think of to explain how, against all of the glowing praise this novel gets here, I found it to be so, so boring. I can't even say I read it, I literally skimmed through it.

What can I do to get my brain back,people? It seems to have shriveled up and died after I read those 5 pseudo fantasy porn books. Will I have bad taste in novels forever now? Will I dislike a book if it doe...more
Shaun
I enjoyed this. The writing is quite good and the author weaves an intricate web that takes place in a small rural Mississippi town and includes one date gone very bad, several well-drawn characters, a smattering of hidden family secrets, one whacked serial killer in the making, more than a few slithering snakes, lots of kudzu and tension, and just enough romance and mystery to keep it interesting.

So that's what I liked.

What I didn't like was the use of Larry's POV to go back in time, especially...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter 4 58 Jun 26, 2014 05:15PM  
Southern Lit Lovers: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Spoilers Possible) 52 96 Apr 14, 2014 01:41AM  
Pavement Album 8 31 Jan 15, 2014 10:55PM  
Seminole County P...: Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin 1 5 Jun 24, 2013 11:46PM  
Seminole County P...: Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin 1 8 May 18, 2013 09:22PM  
after reading 27 350 Apr 14, 2013 03:51PM  
Topeka & Shaw...: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter 1 10 Mar 25, 2013 07:13PM  
  • Provinces of Night
  • Bent Road
  • Kentucky Straight: Stories
  • The Scent of Rain and Lightning
  • The Lock Artist
  • One Foot in Eden
  • A Single Shot
  • The Death of Sweet Mister
  • Last Call for the Living
  • The Last Kind Words
  • Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories
  • A Land More Kind Than Home
  • Father and Son
  • The Bottoms
  • A Good Hard Look
  • The Gendarme
  • The Devil All the Time
  • I'd Know You Anywhere
125736
Tom Franklin was born and raised in Dickinson, Alabama. He held various jobs as a struggling writer living in South Alabama, including working as a heavy-equipment operator in a grit factory, a construction inspector in a chemical plant and a clerk in a hospital morgue. In 1997 he received his MFA from the University of Arkansas. His first book, Poachers was named as a Best First Book of Fiction b...more
More about Tom Franklin...
The Tilted World Hell at the Breech Poachers Smonk The Alumni Grill II: Anthology of Southern Writers

Share This Book

“Was that what childhood was? Things rushing by out a window, the trees connected by motion, going too fast for him to notice the consequences?” 8 likes
“Maybe Larry was wrong about the word friend, maybe he'd been shoved away from everybody for so long all he was was a sponge for the wrongs other people did.” 7 likes
More quotes…