by Tom Franklin
narrated by Kevin Kenerly
Larry Ott is a total loser: a weirdo, a loner and really, really creepy. Then his date "disappears" on him and, while no one can prove it, you just know he's guilty of something nasty. Thirty years later and another local girl disappears and everyone in the small town of Chabot, MS is out for blood. That the Stephen King-reading pervert is still breathing is an injustice...
But everything is not so black-and-white, either figuratively or literally. The concretized legend of Larry Ott is deconstructed, not though a basic linear narrative; but by peeling back the layers of time, attitudes and people to get at the truth. The keel of this story, the line upon which the narrative hangs, is the relationship between Larry Ott, a poor white trash mechanic and; Silas "32" Jones, a black deputy sheriff. Erstwhile childhood friends who allow racism and self interest to divide them, they are forced to confront themselves and each other after a thirty-year estrangement. Courage is required from both men to broker a difficult entente and confront the devil they don't know. This is not a traditional mystery in terms of structure or content. While a straightforward whodunit or police procedural might have been an easy way to tell the story; the sifting of fact from fiction in Chabot, MS is more realistically presented within the context of real time and people's morally complex natures.
Kevin Kenerly narrates Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter with an amazing facility for both white and black characters, and with rich vocal legacies for all. Whether it's the slow and easy cadence of "32," the relatively more nasal qualities of a redneck or, the emotional rhythms of 32's romantic interest, Tom Franklin's characters resonate from the page to the speakers with a lushness that reflects the heat of Mississippi and the tensions of the South.
Other Stuff: I borrowed a library edition CD from Blackstone Audio, Inc.
This post is part of the Murder, Monsters, Mayhem feature being hosted by Jennifer L. at www.jennsbookshelves.com
This book qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is set in the fictional small rural town of Chabot, Mississippi.
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"But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail."
-- Lady Macbeth from "Macbeth," Act 1, Scene 7, lines 59-61; by William Shakespeare