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