Well it is a new year which only means one thing: time for more book reviews! I normally review recent releases, but the book I am reviewing today was released in 2010 and came highly recommended to me so I definitely wanted to see what it was all about. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a story that is based out of the small rural town of Chabot, Mississippi, the name of the book coming from the way kids in the south were taught how to spell the state’s long name.
The book begins by introducing the readers to Larry Ott, a very gentle and isolated man who lives alone in his parent’s house. Every day is the same until one day the past comes back to haunt him. Flash back 25 years, it is the 1970’s and Larry is the main suspect in a missing girl case. Cindy Walker, a neighbor of Larry’s, was last seen on a date with Larry and now nobody has seen or heard from her since. After months of investigating no body was ever found and Larry never confessed so the case was closed, but the people of that small town never forgot and as if Larry wasn’t enough of an outcast now he was branded with the nickname “Scary Larry.” Now back in present day the daughter of the richest family in Chabot, Tina Rutherford, has gone missing and all eyes point to Larry. Silas “32” Jones is the town’s constable, but he was once the only friend Larry had ever had as a young boy. The men haven’t crossed paths in years, but with the Rutherford girl missing the past is slowly coming back and secrets that they thought were buried will soon come to the surface.
When I first started this book I was expecting it to be your normal mystery book, but the missing girl is the starter that drives the main plot for how the whole story will unfold. There is so much more to the story than the missing girl case and you eventually begin to see that this story is about the people of this town and secrets from the past that even though are in the past can never be forgotten.
After the first couple of pages I was completely pulled in and anxious to see how it would all play out. The book continually flashes back between the past and the present. We get to see how Larry and Silas’ friendship first started and how they drifted apart. The boys couldn’t be more different. Larry is the son of lower middle-class white parents and Silas is the son of a poor, single black mother.
Franklin does an outstanding job of portraying the south during the 70’s. It was a rough time back then with poverty and racism and Franklin doesn’t sugarcoat anything, he shows you just what living in the rural south is like. The way Franklin portrays Larry is so sad and heartbreaking, the whole time I just felt so unbelievably sorry for him. All he wanted was for the other kids to like and accept him. He even had a hard time being accepted by his own father. After reading the way he grew up and everything he had to endure it definitely gave me a humbling feeling about my own childhood.
Franklin describes Silas as the kid that everyone knew about in town, the sports star; you know the one I’m talking about, they all have them. Now he is the constable, once again being in a position where everyone knows his name, but what people don’t know are all the secrets that Silas has kept tucked away for all these years.
Throughout the story I was able to guess how some of the mystery with the missing girls would play out, but then with other cases I was totally thrown for a loop. I was very impressed with how Franklin arranged everything and how detailed he got with the boy’s childhood. It’s definitely not pretty at times, but it’s the truth and you can’t ignore the truth. I really enjoyed how Franklin makes you think this story will be all about the mystery of the missing girls and then gives you something totally different. This book is about friendship and hope and what can happen when that disappears.
Overall I was very impressed with this story and I am glad I took the time to read it!