14 February 2011

Post 324: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. ISBN: 9780062048745 (eBook).

There are a few people in this world who are so passionate about their preferred entertainment/enrichment media that they can get me to read, watch, or otherwise consume almost anything. Nancy Pearl happens to be one of those individuals, and she tricked me with her tricky tricks into reading this murder mystery. My regular readers will know the issues I have with murder mysteries, but not only did Nancy Pearl's enthusiasm and energy for this novel make me interested in something I probably wouldn't have picked up for myself, but... she was right about it.

This is probably the best reason in the world to be widely read and to have professionals who are widely read. Just because I don't like mysteries as a genre, doesn't mean that I can't enjoy them occasionally. The things I don't like about mysteries don't apply to ALL mysteries, and so I was really glad that I got to hear Nancy Pearl talk about this title, because otherwise I would have just walked by it. It has a lot of the things I don't really get excited about (a southern setting, an emphasis on race relations, no female characters worth mentioning), and yet somehow seeing Nancy's face light up when talking about it made me scribble down the title in the back of my journal. If there's one thing that woman can sell, it's books, and she does a good job at it.

So what made this different from other murder mysteries, other than it was recommended by someone I trust and appreciate? Well, it is definitely more centered on character development, which is something I find most murder mysteries lack. Some authors actually have very well developed characters, but choose to feed us bits and pieces of character over the course of a 10+ book series so they can keeping milking said character, or they just reveal the same character traits over and over again.

Franklin also seems to actually love language. I mean really love it. The vocabulary in this book is strikingly rich and varied compared to similar novels. And you can tell he really enjoys his setting in the way that he describes the town, the trailer park, the stacks of mail and paperbacks in Larry Ott's home. I'll give you a sample, this is the second paragraph:
"It'd stormed the night before over much of the Southeast, flash floods on the news, trees snapped in half and pictures of trailer homes twisted apart. Larry, forty-one years old and single, lived alone in rural Mississippi in his parents' house, which was now his house, though he couldn't bring himself to think of it that way. He acted more like a curator, keeping the rooms clean, answering the mail and paying bills, turning on the television at the right times and smiling with the laugh tracks, eating his McDonald's or Kentucky Fried Chicken to what the networks presented him and then sitting on his front porch as the day bled out of the trees across the field and night settled in, each different, each the same." Page 1.
What wonderful words I would have missed out on if it hadn't been for Nancy Pearl. Is there someone out there whose recommendations you read even if it isn't in your chosen genre? What's the best/most surprising book they recommended for you?

There's an excellent book review by Bookmarks Magazine. I'm not sure why it repeats on their page, but you can also follow their reviews on Goodreads.
LibsNote: eBook downloaded from my library via Overdrive Media.

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