Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"The classic trifecta of talent, heart, and a bone-deep sense of storytelling....A masterful performance, deftly rendered and deeply satisfying. For days on end, I woke with this story on my mind."
-- David Wroblewski

"A new Tom Franklin novel is always a reason to get excited, but Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is more--a cause for celebration. What a great novel by a great novelist."
--Dennis Lehane

A powerful and resonant novel from Tom Franklin--critically acclaimed author of Smonk and Hell at the Breech--Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells the riveting story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. An extraordinary novel that seamlessly blends elements of crime and Southern literary fiction, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a must for readers of Larry Brown, Pete Dexter, Ron Rash, and Dennis Lehane.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2010.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060594664
Characteristics: 274 p. ; 24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 11, 2018

loved everything about this novel - writing, setting and memorable characters.

CRRL_MegRaymond Oct 09, 2017

Two very different boys were friends in the late 1970s. When a girl disappears, one is blamed and one leaves town. Twenty years later, another girl disappears. Is history repeating itself?

CatherineG_1 Sep 13, 2016

Thornhill Village Thursday Evening Book Club
Thursday, November 10th, 2016
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Jul 12, 2016

I sped through this book and once it was over I re-read a few of the descriptions again. He is a beautiful writer, and his characters are heartbreakingly real. I have just put another book of his on hold.

May 15, 2016

I am always up for dramatic Southern fiction. Are Southern writers just touched with something special, or do they have better writing teachers down there? Tom Ford's story is so beautifully written and engrossing, you don't even have a chance to stop and wonder if you CARE. There is no question: you will care. If the story of Larry and Silas doesn't rip your heart out, check to see if you have one! A very satisfying story about friendship, race, and secrets that separate us from one another.

Apr 03, 2016

I don't know that I've read a book where I felt more sympathy toward a main character as I did while reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Larry Ott's story broke my heart to the point I often had to remind myself it was just fiction! In my mind, that's a good sign of powerful, skilled storytelling by Tom Franklin.

Nov 04, 2015

New author for me - enjoyable read.

Nov 08, 2013

Enjoyed the story and the characters. It did feel that the story was an edited version made for TV or the movies where there is only so much time to develop the characters and certain scenes have been edited out. You know that movie you watched and want to read the book to find out what you missed

Jul 16, 2013

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin is much more than a simple mystery, this atmospheric story touches on the racism that is still very prevalent today and tells the story of two men of different races that share a past and secrets that are about to come bubbling to the surface.

Jul 11, 2013

Surprised to find out that this is an Edgar-Award-winning writer. The murder mystery is the weakest aspect to this novel of a rural southern town which still holds a grudge against poor misfut Larry Ott, suspected-but-not-convicted of the disappearance/murder of a teen girl many years before and still admires the high school baseball skills of Silas '32' Jones who has returned as constable. Very slow narration, unsatisfying 'solution' to the mystery, and mostly unlikable characters make this one hard to go down. Interesting that the black/white dynamic is turned inside out here as the pariah is white and the 'hero' is black. Haunting, tragic portrait of Larry is the only thing that saves this mostly mess of a read.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

Apr 03, 2016

vv8 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Algonquin_Lisa Mar 14, 2011

Algonquin_Lisa thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

Nov 11, 2013

A nubile co-ed is missing from the same small, rural Mississippi town where another young woman had disappeared twenty-five years earlier—the mystery unsolved, her body never found. So begins Tom Franklin’s stellar novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

Socially-awkward Larry Ott was 16 years old when Cindy Walker, both beautiful and popular, asked him out on a date. That momentous occasion—at least through Larry’s eyes—was the point when his young life began a downward slide from which it would not recover. Walker was never seen again. Although no evidence was ever found connecting him to the girl’s disappearance, the townspeople unanimously convicted Larry without the benefit of any trial. Shunned and taunted, he became the local pariah.

Years later when Tina Rutherford also disappears, “Scary” Larry is the prime suspect. But there’s a major problem--Larry is discovered in his house with a bullet wound to the chest. Barely alive, he’s transported to the hospital where he remains in a coma. The popular theory around town is that Larry’s guilt precipitated his own suicide attempt.

Although he mostly kept to himself while growing up, Larry had had one important but short friendship. That friend, Silas Jones, known as “32” from his impressive baseball days, is the town’s deputy constable. As a teen, Silas had eventually distanced himself from Larry. When the second girl evaporates into thin air, Silas knows his former friend could not have committed the unthinkable crime. He also knows he must come clean about Cindy Walker’s disappearance all those years ago.

A “crooked letter” was a mnemonic device used to help children with spelling the difficult word Mississippi—m, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, humpback (p), humpback (p), i.


Add a Quote

Jul 03, 2012

Was that what childhood was? Things rushing by out a window, the trees connected by motion, going too fast for him to notice the consequences?


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PDL

To Top