Saturday, November 20, 2010

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a beautifully written powerhouse thriller. From the first page Franklin introduces two incredibly compelling characters whose lives intersect in shocking and heartbreaking ways. 

Larry is a loner, the designated freak of his rural Mississippi town of Chabot.  Why Larry?  Twenty years prior, his neighbor and high school crush disappeared after Larry took her on a date.  Although Larry was never charged, everyone assumed he was guilty and treated him as such.  Now that another teen girl is missing, people are beginning to suspect the town freak might be up to no good once again.  How else can you explain a man who lives alone on his parent’s farm and reads Stephen King voraciously?  A freak.  Why would a man go to work each day when he knows no one would ever set foot in his establishment?  Something must be wrong with him. Franklin does a great job in creating Larry the boy and teenager who turns into Larry, Chabot’s own town freak.  The twists of fate that take an innocent, only child with a great imagination and turn him into a possible murderer are riveting.

Twists of fate take Silas “32” Jones from a fatherless African American boy to a high-school football star and, later, Chabot’s town constable.  After a football injury halts his plans for a football career, 32 drifts back to his normally sleepy hometown and ends up in the middle of a real, live crime wave.  As Larry is targeted as the main suspect, 32 recalls their friendship as children and the reasons behind their teen estrangement.  There is an incredible twist or two, which is sure to keep readers hooked until the last page. 

Tom Franklin creates sheer atmosphere in every page - the slow pace of small town Southern life and the unknown menace that may have caused two pretty teen girls to go missing.  He captures the darkness and weakness, as well as the goodness and frailty found in both Larry and 32, as well as everyone in Chabot. This thriller will both move you and keep you on the edge of your seat.

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