I am not normally drawn to realistic murder mysteries. I prefer my murders nice and tidy, light on details, heavy on wit and atmosphere. If the crime took place a century ago and on another continent, then so much the better. Every once in a while, however, a more realistic mystery is recommended to me over and over again. It shows up on “Best of …” lists and I feel compelled to see what all the fuss is about. That is how I discovered Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.
Set in the small town of Chabot, Mississippi, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is the story of two men, one black and one white. They shared a brief but meaningful friendship when they were teenagers. This friendship ends, however, when a girl disappears and one of them is suspected of the crime. Twenty five years later, the men become reacquainted when another young girl disappears. While working to solve this new mystery, they discover secrets from their past that will either drive them apart or bring them together again.
This book was thoroughly enjoyable for a number of reasons. The characters were colorful and wonderfully flawed. The mysteries, past and present, unfolded slowly. And the mood of the location pervaded every scene. What I appreciated most about Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, however, was the beautifully subtle way in which the author dealt with relationships between races, between family members and between friends. In this book, as in life, things are rarely black or white. Usually, the most important things lie somewhere in between.