Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Thoughts - Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
published 10/2010
audiobook - read by Kevin Kenerly

Synopsis from publisher:

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.

My thoughts:

First Impression - 7/8/12

I don't normally feel inspired to write a longer, more detailed review of audiobooks, but this one has me engaged in a way I haven't yet experienced. The novel itself is, up to this point, well written and more than a bit suspenseful. But the narrator is remarkable - he IS these characters, completely and utterly. It feels like I am listening in on actual conversations. He nails the author's dry wit, and has had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

I'm also surprised at how much sympathy I feel for Larry. I'm not sure I can remember reading a character who has been so completely unable to catch  break - he's really kinda creepy, but as the story unfolds his weirdness begins to make so much sense. Both Silas and Larry have so many layers to their personalities - I am so interested to see what revelations come next.

Second Thoughts - 7/12/12

I have quite a few ideas about how I think the novel is going to progress, but I am also a sucker for a well-placed red herring, so I never really trust that I have things figured out. I did guess the true nature of Silas and Larry's relationship fairly early on, but even that doesn't give me too much confidence. There are several plot threads, however, that have me eager to find resolution. I am still so wrapped up in Larry's story - Franklin has captured his unfortunate-ness so perfectly. I don't see how things can wind up well for him, but I sure keep hoping they will.

This novel is such an interesting character study about the differences in the lives of these two men. Watching them dip and play in and out of each other's lives creates such tension - you can feel the pending explosion between the two men, but just can't quite place when it is coming. Franklin is a master at building slowly, developing the mood and feeling of the novel. Each time I listen I feel on edge, like something horrible is just around the corner. I almost find myself wishing for a longer commute!

Last Word - 7/19/12

Okay, so I figured it out! *grin* but really, I think anyone who was paying attention would have, and that doesn't take anything away from this wonderful novel. It is character study that just happens to contain a murder mystery, but the mystery is clearly not the reason to read Franklin's book. You should read it for the depth of character, the smart and intoxicating writing, the mood, the wit, the atmosphere. I want to find a physical copy and read it again so I can underline all of the beautiful passages I remember. This was a fantastic novel to listen too, but I'm sure it would be an equally wonderful experience to read on the page. Get a copy if you can - highly recommended!

Finished: 7/18/12
MPAA rating: R for language, violence, and adult situations
My rating: 8/10


bermudaonion said...

Wasn't this good? I read it with my book club and everyone enjoyed it.

Zibilee said...

I loved this book as well, and thought that it was one of my better reads last year. It has gotten a lot of hype, but all of it is deserved! Great review today, Elizabeth!

Ryan said...

I just skimmed your review. I've been hearing so much about this book and really want to read it. I meant to buy it the last time I made a Kindle order and forgot. I will not make that mistake again.