I sort of feel like I should apologize for writing so many book reviews lately. I have two reasons for this: first, I’m way behind on book reviews and want to get all of these books documented before the end of the year (part of the reason I blog is for my reading record), and second, a lot of the other stuff I’m thinking about these days is not crystallized well enough to make a good blog post out of it. I’ve been having a sort of quarter life crisis for about the past year and right now a lot of that is coming to decision points and I’d rather wait to see how it all shakes out before writing about it.
No worries, I’m not going crazy (at least not that I’m aware of!) or thinking about running away to live in a yurt in wildest Borneo or anything. Just basic life stuff and I don’t want to bore you.
SO. I’m here to talk to you about a really excellent mystery I read recently. I’m not normally a fan of mysteries, but this one grabbed me in part because the book also touched on themes that interest me like the nature of friendship, race relations, and identity.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is set in a very small town in Mississippi (hence the name of the book, taken from the rhyme about how to spell Mississippi “m-i-crooked letter-crooked letter-i-crooked letter-crooked letter-i-hump back-hump back-i”) and involves a white outcast, a black policeman, and a missing rich girl. The story unfolds from there and explores all the issues I named in the previous paragraph while also solving the mystery in a satisfying way.
The author, Tom Franklin, teaches at the MFA program at Ole Miss. His writing is so good that I found myself tempted to enroll in the MFA program at Ole Miss, but I would have to hogtie my Yankee husband to get him to move to the Deep South and that’s probably not worth it in the long run.
Since some regular readers here like to know about language and content issues before they read a book I will let you know that the book contains a lot of dialogue in a southern redneck dialect that includes a lot of casual toss-off swearing. It’s the sort of thing I just tune out. Also, the crimes committed against the missing girl are violent – they aren’t described in detail, but one character talks about thinking about it and that may be too much if you’re really sensitive to that.
Overall I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it, with the caveats above.
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