Tag: Lee

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Posted May 20, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom FranklinTitle: Crooked Letter Crooked Letter (Goodreads)
Author: Tom Franklin
Published: Pan Macmillan, 2010
Pages: 318
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

When another girl disappears, suspicion falls on the suspect of a twenty year old missing persons case. Larry has been living a solitary life never being able to escape the whispers of suspicion, now another girl disappears, it is starting all over again. Old boyhood friend Salas is now in law enforcement and this new case forces both men to confront the past that they have buried for so long.

Tom Franklin lived in a small southern town in Alabama, and while struggling to make it as an author he went through multiple manual labour jobs and once worked for the city morgue. In 1997 he got his first break when his short story collection, Poachers was named Best First Book of Fiction by Esquire. Since then he has been having great success with southern crime novels, winning a few awards, including the Edgar Award (for Poachers, a short story found in the book of the same name) and The Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger (awarded for best crime novel of the year) for Crooked Letter Crooked Letter.

This novel has been compared to the works of Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard and Cormac McCarthy, so I went in to this novel expecting a good southern crime novel and this is what I got. Except there was a little more in this novel, while you have the elements you expect, I never expected the book to explore the idea of being misunderstood and isolation. From the beginning of the novel Larry is shot and yet he is sympathetic towards his mystery attacker. He even forgave him because “all monsters were misunderstood”.

The idea that Larry thinks of himself as a monster brings up some interesting concepts, which I really want to explore but that would lead to some spoilers. He even owns an old monster mask which is hugely symbolic when it comes to the concept of being a monster living within society. This mask plays a big role throughout the novel and what it represents within each scene it shows up in only served to increase my enjoyment in exploring Crooked Letter Crooked Letter.

The relationship between Larry and Salas is an interesting one; they were childhood friends living in Mississippi in 1970. Larry comes from a working class family while Salas is an African American, I was expecting a lot to do with racism around their friendship, being a southern novel but Franklin went a whole different route.  Instead he explored their changing relationship from kids to adults, with the pressure of the world and the suspicion placed on Larry. This was unexpected and it added a really interesting look into the two characters relationship.

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The title of this novel references an old American children’s song used to learn how to spell Mississippi and I’ve never heard of it. Being an Australian, it is odd that we were taught how to spell Mississippi as children as well; we were never expected to spell other American states so it seems weird. Though I was taught differently and I’ve found out my wife learnt it a different way to that too. Not really important to the novel except knowing where the book is set but it a interesting thought to have about the ways we learnt to spell this word.

This is a relatively morbid novel but I honestly was hoping for something as dark as The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (seriously I need more like this novel) but as far as melancholic books, this one is worth check out. Not only does it have some interesting themes that I think are worth exploring, I found the prose lyrical and in parts stunning. It is not without its flaws and I don’t want to go into those, for fear of spoilers but I still think highly of Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin; he seems to draw a lot from Cormac McCarthy’s style, so check it out.

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

Posted October 22, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy, Western / 0 Comments

The Dead of Winter by Lee CollinsTitle: The Dead of Winter (Goodreads)
Author: Lee Collins
Series: Cora Oglesby #1
Published: Angry Robot, 2012
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy, Western
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I didn’t know much about this book apart from the tag on the front of the book ‘True Grit meets True Blood’. This was enough to get my attention and I felt like a western paranormal urban fantasy novel might be a fun read. Cora and her husband Ben are hunters, but for things that should not exist in the world. When the Marshall of Leadville, Colorado calls her in to help with a series of mysterious deaths, Cora feels she may have finally met her match.

I’m not sure how to classify the novel; is it a Western, paranormal, dark fantasy or even urban fantasy novel? The Dark of Winter seems to mash all these elements into the one book, and it does a decent job at doing that. I was hoping that Cora would be as sassy as Mattie Ross in True Grit but she was just a bitch, plain and simple. In fact the only True Grit element in the book was that this book is a western. I felt a little disappointed in that, I wanted sassy, but I got bitchy. I did get over that pretty quickly and was able to settle in to enjoy the plot. The characters never seemed to be developed enough for me, but this may have been due to my expectations.

On the whole, I felt that there was just something missing from the book; the characters just didn’t come together properly, but there was some chemistry between Cora and the English hunter. The writing of this book was good and the pacing of the plot was decent enough but for some reason I still think the book needed something else to improve the story. I’m not sure if it needed the sass, or maybe some wit or humour but I think adding an extra element like these would have helped the book overall.

A Vampire Western novel seems very unique and there was a sense of mystery throughout the novel but there was always some cliches which counteracted the good parts. Its adventure elements were let down by the dialogue between the characters. It just felt like for every good element of this book, I had an issue with something else. I’m sure some people will really enjoy this book I just felt like the pros and cons of this book just equalled out to make it feel like an average read. I’m not sure if I’ll read the sequel when it comes out but I know I won’t be rushing out to get it.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Posted July 28, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper LeeTitle: To Kill A Mockingbird (Goodreads)
Author: Harper Lee
Published: Harper Collins, 1960
Pages: 323
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: Amazon (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

To celebrate 50 years of publication this month, The newly formed Literary Exploration Book Club decided to read Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The book has been described as a southern gothic novel which gave the book a certain appeal to me and was one of the main reasons I decided to read this book. What I found left me a little disappointed.  To begin with, I found the book didn’t start to get interesting till chapter 11. I know the back story was needed, it was a different time, but I didn’t much care for the childhood of Jean Louise, Jem or even Boo. To me it felt like it dragged on and could have used some cutting down, but some people like to hear about life in the 1930’s. When I did eventually get to chapter 11, I did start to enjoy the book a lot more and finally at chapter 17 we started to get into the real story of To Kill A Mockingbird; The Court Case.

Atticus was the only truly enjoyable character for me.  He was a wise and fair man, though he never wanted to take Tom Robinson case he did his upmost to make sure he was treated fairly and got the best representation possible. Atticus was the shining light throughout this book; he was a scholar and gentlemen through thick and thin. Once the court case was over and Atticus no longer had to deal with Tim Robinson the book again went back to its original slow pace and eventually fizzled out.

The book wasn’t all bad, it was well written and tackled some important topics, including racial injustice, class and even sexuality. I can see why this is a classic book and I think Harper Lee did a fantastic job at shedding light on some important social issues, the story just felt to slow for my liking, but I can understand why so many people enjoy this book.