Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Franklin, Tom

  12 Reviews

Set in Mississippi, this is a novel deeply rooted in its rural landscape. Larry Ott, white and middle class and Silas Jones, poor and black, were once childhood friends, their paths converging again years later when a young girl disappears in similar circumstances to events in their youth.

With its superbly developed characters, its challenges to Southern stereotypes, and a storyline alternating between the 1970s and the present, this is a murder mystery with a difference. Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Winner 2011.

Comments from Groups

Most members really enjoyed this book. They liked the style of writing and the way the characters came alive. Tapawera 001

A great little book with a real twist at the finish. Makes you glad that we live in good old NZ & not in the USA! Winton 001

Our entire group enjoyed reading this book. Even though there were lots of questions to answer we had a lively discussion. We could sympathise with the 2 main characters. Geraldine 002

Simple but descriptive prose and detail. Small town prejudice, tension, victimisation, racial/moral issues. Enjoyed by all but a sad, depressing story. Wellington 107

We all enjoyed this book. It made us think of `To Kill a Mockingbird`. Te Puke 001

We all thoroughly enjoyed this book which prompted a long and deep discussion. A stimulating and thought provoking read. This is the first book for our club, and we were pleasantly surprised as none of us would have chosen to read it. Dunedin 085

Crooked letter, crooked letter, of all the books, one of the better. A bit of mystery, a hidden crime, not today, but back in time. When racism was still rife, it was a different way of life. Secrets kept and truths untold, saw a young man's future stole'd. Friendships made were friendships lost, to save oneself but at what cost. It made us muse, it made us talk, of different roads that people walk. And as we like to talk and muse, this book we'd recommend, to choose! Nelson 063

We loved this book. We thought the characterisation and plot were very well worked out with the tension remaining to the end. A number of us wish to read other books by Tom Franklin. Good psychological development of how different personalities evolve and why. Wellington 062

....The racial tensions were well-drawn, and the plot managed to unfold with smooth flashbacks to the childhood events that had far-reaching outcomes for the future of both the main characters ,Larry and Silas. A thoroughly well-crafted mystery with believable characters. Auckland 037

We all rated this book highly. The plot had lots of themes and twists and turns that kept you guessing until the end. We found the rural American setting and the racial insights/tension very interesting. Christchurch 312

Some felt it took time to get into the story, but once in, we were hooked. We felt very sad for Larry - a wasted life for a very good-hearted young man; and very cross with Silas for not coming 'clean' earlier.We think the two will work things out however, and become the best of 'brothers'! Recommended for sure. Tauranga 051

Enjoyed by the majority of the group, but not entirely to the taste of some, mainly because it was a book that required almost continuous attention - not one that could be read a few pages at a time. Nevertheless, we can recommend this to other groups for the quality of the writing and its portrayal of inter-racial relationships and tensions in the southern states. Whangarei 015

Tom Franklin's book about hard times in Mississippi provided excellent discussion on several topics including racial bias versus enculturation, and what constitutes masculine behaviour. Relationships as portrayed here were discussed with enthusiasm, especially family relationships and friendships. The structure of the story was carefully and cleverly built up, but some readers found the book hard to get into, enjoying the second half more than the first half! Some members read it twice, and enjoyed it far more the second time.The author's writing style was detailed yet spare, establishing clear visuals in the mind of the reader, and the characterisation was established with pleasing realism. As a murder story it was quite unusual, and often the reader almost forgot that he/she was in pursuit of the guilty one, since the vagaries of the characters were so enthralling. We all greatly enjoyed the discussion, but not all of us would recommend this book to our friends. Readers need a good amount of perseverance in order to enjoy all that this writer has to offer, in our view! Whitby 005



WELL 206
A good read for our group. We enjoyed the story, characters and writing style.
CHCH 010
We all enjoyed the writing of this book with its great descriptions, especially of the Southern State and the characters. There was a lot of discussion about the lives and relationships of Silas and Larry, with agreement and disagreement about betrayal and the reason it happened, and how/if it can be overcome.
CHCH 480
Enjoyed by all members of group. And we all know how to spell Mississippi now, if we didn't before. Members felt drawn into the story as if part of it. They appreciated that the writer allowed the reader to make own decisions about the issues raised. The writer provoked individual thought without imposing own view.
WELL 086
We really loved this book - a breath of fresh (and exciting) air. Great start to the year.
Very popular book which many found hard to put down. Cleverly written with many twists and turns in the plot. Great characterisation meant the reader could sympathise with the main characters, Larry and Silas. Provoked plenty of thought and good discussion.
This book was enjoyed by all members. One member described it as well crafted. Half of us found it a bit hard to get into, but we enjoyed it and the descriptions of places and the character portrayals. We related some of the themes to our own knowledge of growing up in those times.
AUCK 344
This book generated one of the most in-depth discussions we have ever had. 2 people found it difficult to get into and abandoned it. Most, however, loved Tom Franklin's writing. Larry Ott is a character that stays with you long after you have finished the book.
Very wide range of reaction to this book. General agreement that it was well-written with vivid portrayals of both the physical and emotional landscapes. The content was too raw, sad and confronting (also an illustration of the vivid writing!) for some. Others want to read more of Franklin's books given his remarkable gift for describing people and places.
ASHB 004
Very engaging story. We liked the detail of the setting in the Southern States. Characters were well drawn and we were kept guessing.
AUCK 240
Everyone enjoyed this easy read. Good plot. Nicely written.
All enjoyed this book, and it generated one of the best discussions we have had. We loved the descriptive and provcative writing, which truly painted a picture.
ROTO 010
This book is aptly named, despite the origin of the title being somewhat more pedestrian than its darker content. Described by one reviewer as "Southern gothic" it was a indeed a mystery with twisted events and behaviours abhorrent to some of our readers. Not all our group enjoyed the read. One person remarked on the mass of detail presented. It was generally agreed that some of the characters lived pitiable unstable lives and the story was horribly believable.