A nubile co-ed is missing from the same small, rural Mississippi town where another young woman had disappeared twenty-five years earlier—the mystery unsolved, her body never found. So begins Tom Franklin’s stellar novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.
Socially-awkward Larry Ott was 16 years old when Cindy Walker, both beautiful and popular, asked him out on a date. That momentous occasion—at least through Larry’s eyes—was the point when his young life began a downward slide from which it would not recover. Walker was never seen again. Although no evidence was ever found connecting him to the girl’s disappearance, the townspeople unanimously convicted Larry without the benefit of any trial. Shunned and taunted, he became the local pariah.
Years later when Tina Rutherford also disappears, “Scary” Larry is the prime suspect. But there’s a major problem--Larry is discovered in his house with a bullet wound to the chest. Barely alive, he’s transported to the hospital where he remains in a coma. The popular theory around town is that Larry’s guilt precipitated his own suicide attempt.
Although he mostly kept to himself while growing up, Larry had had one important but short friendship. That friend, Silas Jones, known as “32” from his impressive baseball days, is the town’s deputy constable. As a teen, Silas had eventually distanced himself from Larry. When the second girl evaporates into thin air, Silas knows his former friend could not have committed the unthinkable crime. He also knows he must come clean about Cindy Walker’s disappearance all those years ago.
A “crooked letter” was a mnemonic device used to help children with spelling the difficult word Mississippi—m, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, humpback (p), humpback (p), i.