Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
(William Morrow, 2010, 274 pages)
Two children – one white, Larry Ott, and one black, Silas “32” Jones – become friends in the Deep South during a time when interracial mingling is not the norm. At a young age Larry, who is usually antisocial and always has his head in a book, befriends Silas. They spend time frolicking around the woods on the Ott farm. Larry’s father moved the family to Chabot, Mississippi and became a car mechanic after falling on tough luck up North. Larry lacked athletic and mechanical skills which caused his father to shy away from him. One day while with his father they offer a ride to a black woman and her son who were walking in the rain. The kids keep their friendship a secret. As they grow up they grow apart, especially when Silas becomes the popular football player “32”. Franklin’s story takes a twist when a high school sweetheart goes missing after going on a date with Larry. The missing girl is nowhere to be found, but without enough evidence the authorities cannot charge Larry.
Fast forward—Larry’s father is gone, his mother is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s and he is a mechanic in his father’s garage. Another young woman has gone missing and the town folk believe it can be none other than Larry Ott. But someone shot Larry and he’s been hospitalized with serious injuries. Silas “32” is a local constable and is investigating the case and discovers that he and Larry have a surprising connection… The mystery unfolds and Silas reveals that all is not what it appears to be in the town of Chabot. Franklin tells a riveting tale that will keep you wanting more.