Friday, September 16, 2011

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (audio)

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel
by Tom Franklin
Narrated by Kevin Kenerly
Blackstone Audio, 2010
9 hours 30 minutes

Synopsis (from the publisher):

In a small Mississippi town, two men are torn apart by circumstance and reunited by tragedy in this resonant new novel from the award-winning author of the critically-acclaimed Hell at the Breech.
Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were unlikely boyhood friends. Larry was the child of lower middle-class white parents, Silas the son of a poor, single, black mother - their worlds as different as night and day. Yet a special bond developed between them in Chabot, Mississippi. But within a few years, tragedy struck. In high school, a girl who lived up the road from Larry had gone to the drive-in movie with him and nobody had seen her again. Her stepfather tried to have Larry arrested, but no body was found and Larry never confessed. The incident shook up the town, including Silas, and the bond the boys shared was irrevocably broken.
Almost 30 years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence in Chabot, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion, the looks of blame that have shadowed him. Silas left home to play college baseball, but now he’s Chabot’s constable. The men have few reasons to cross paths, and they rarely do - until fate intervenes again.
Another teenaged girl has disappeared, causing rumors to swirl once again. Now, two men who once called each other friend are finally forced to confront the painful past they’ve buried for too many years.

My thoughts:

When it comes to atmospheric appeal, you just can't beat southern fiction and, believe me, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter offers plenty. But atmosphere is only the beginning here. The characters are extremely well-drawn, the plot had my emotions rising and falling like a roller coaster, and, best of all, the writing is superb. As an added bonus, the novel also raises larger social issues that beg to be discussed. This is literary mystery at it's finest!

I began listening to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter on my iPod, sometimes before falling asleep. It became obvious early on that bedtime was not the optimal listening time for this particular title, so I burned CD's and started listening in the car. I couldn't get enough and found myself looking for excuses to drive around.

 My only regret is that I don't have quotes to include here. I stopped the audio many times to savor an especially beautiful or insightful passage... it would have been hard to select just one or two to share.

A note on the audio:
Kevin Kenerly, a narrator I was unfamiliar with, is excellent. His southern drawl was perfect (to my northern ears), with just the right edge in suspenseful sections, yet never melodramatic. Kenerly's reading added so much to the overall feeling and atmosphere - I could practically feel the humidity in his voice.

source: purchased

My rating:

Bottom line:
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is one of my favorite audios of the year - truly a must-listen!

Jen at Devourer of Books is collecting audiobook reviews every Friday for her Sound Bytes feature. Stop by and read her review, then click over to see what others have posted. Feel free to link up your own audiobook review, too.


  1. I am so happy you liked this one as much as I did. The character development was outstanding, and Larry Ott especially made an impact on me.

  2. Reviewsbylola - Larry Ott will stay with me for quite some time... such a wonderful book!

  3. Oooh -- I've heard of this book but haven't seen any reviews -- however -- wanting to drive around just to listen to the book more is pretty promising! I've added this to the TBR!

  4. I hate that too about audiobooks - the difficulty of getting quotes! But I am not above pulling over, pulling out paper and pen, and writing stuff down, backspace, write, backspace....

  5. LOL, I listened to Kevin Kenerly narrate A SIMPLE ACT OF VIOLENCE *right after* having listened to CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER, with the result that I keep thinking "32'" went on to become a DC cop! Maybe this is why I've been having trouble writing my review for this audiobook: need to sort things out a bit more!

    One of the things I loved about CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER was that it was not a traditional mystery. It was more like peeling back the layers of an onion to get at the truth. With each revelation, everything became more clearly complex!

  6. TBG and I liked this one a lot too!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  7. I read the ARC and enjoyed this one. Glad the audio was good as well.

  8. I've seen this book around plenty, but your review has convinced me to put it on my list. Sounds like its full of wonderful qualities.

  9. glad to hear you enjoyed this one- it seemed to be pretty popular. it's wonderful when you want to slow down the cd to capture favorite passages!

  10. Oh I loved this in print, I'm so glad the audio worked so well for you! It's such a great story.

  11. I loved this one! You're review is fantastic and once again you're making me rethink audio!

  12. I go back and forth on wanting to read this one.... Glad you enjoyed it. :)

  13. Audra - This is a fantastic audio! Hope you get to listen soon.

    Rhapsodyinbooks - You know, I though about pulling over and replaying a few sections. I'll have to get a copy from the library and find them... just loved this book!

    Dog eared copy - That's so funny!! I think the onion analogy s very apt... an amazing first novel.

    Kaye - I think my husband would enjoy this, too...even though he doesn't read much fiction.

    Diane - I can't wait to see what Franklin writes next!

    Melody - Oh, it is! Hope you get to read or listen soon.

    Marie - It can be hard for a book to live up to all the positive reviews, but Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter sure did for me!

    Victoria - It was such a great audio, but I really want to go back to the print copy and reread a few sections. I loved the writing!

    Staci - One of these days I just know you're going to get hooked on audios.

    Care - Listen to or read this soon... it's amazing!!

  14. This book seems o interesting in your review ! i would have to try English audio books to improve my goals !

  15. I listened to this last year and I totally agree. I need to listen to more of Kenerly's narration!

  16. Annie - Good idea! I think listening to audiobooks in another language would help improve skills.

    Jen - Not only will I be looking for Franklin's next novel, I'm adding Kenerly's narrations to my audio wishlist.

  17. Sounds great! I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

  18. Georgia Girls - Hope you decide to read/listen to this one... it was fantastic!

  19. I was so glad to read your endorsement this morning because when I started listening to this on the way in to work I wondered if it would be something that I like. I don't read a lot of mysteries but am glad you loved the writing so much. Have to admit I miss the narrator for Unbroken, though--thought he was fabulous.

  20. Trish - I wasn't convinced with this one until maybe the second disk. I'm not a big mystery fan either, but I ended up loving this so much that I immediately started another (and it was fabulous, too - What the Dead Know).

  21. Everyone is raving about this one. I'm glad to know that the audio is good since I have more time to listen than to read these days :)

  22. Stacybuckeye - It goes in streaks doesn't it? Sometimes there is more time to read and, at other times, listening fits in better with our lives. I had more listening time this summer, too.... think you'll enjoy this one!

  23. I can just imagine how wonderful listening to this would be. I felt I was in Mississippi just reading it alone! Tom Franklin did a remarkable job writing this novel. I'm glad you told me you'd read it as I missed this post. Now I'm off to add it to the links on mine. Thanks, JoAnn.


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