Oxford resident Tom Franklin has penned a real page turner in “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,” according to Emily Gatlin, manager of Gum Tree Books in Tupelo.
“It’s a mystery thriller that takes place in a small, fictional town in Mississippi,” she said. “I read it in a weekend and can’t recommend it enough. It’s for all ages. Gum Tree owner Jack Reed also recommends the book to everyone. It’s been a big seller here.”
The plot of the book involves a white man, Larry, and a black man, Silas, who are boyhood friends although their lives are very different. As a young man, Larry takes a girl on a date, after which she is missing and presumed murdered. He never confesses but lives under the cloud of suspicion until Silas returns 20 years later as the town’s constable and sets out to prove the innocence of his long-time friend.
Alabama native Franklin worked odd jobs while attending college, including heavy equipment operator, construction inspector, hospital morgue clerk and worker at a hazardous waste cleanup site. He is a graduate of the University of South Alabama and the University of Arkansas. He has been writer-in-residence at several universities, but when his term as Grisham writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi was over, he and his wife, poet Beth Ann Fennelly, decided to remain in Oxford.
The author of numerous short stories and essays, “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” is Franklin’s third novel. The first two books are “Smonk” and “Hell at the Breech.” He has been hailed as an extraordinary talent by such literary lights as Phillip Roth, Richard Ford and Lee Smith.
Gatlin said Gum Tree Books places an emphasis on Southern writers.