I read this book in one afternoon—it was that good! The title refers to the way that they teach children to spell Mississippi in the South (M, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, humpback, humpback, I). Given that information, it is not surprising that the story takes place in rural Mississippi. This is the intriguing story of two boys who grew up in the 1970s and were friends—one black and one white. One never leaves the town because he was accused of killing a girl in his high school when she disappeared, and the other leaves and comes back later to be the town constable. Did Larry Ott really kill the girl he dated and took to the drive-in movie? Why hasn’t her body ever been found? Why does he remain in the town and keep running the local gas station even though no one ever comes there? What about Silas, the constable? Why does he avoid Larry now even though they spent so much time together when they were growing up?
The book tackles many themes, the obvious ones are about racism, stereotypes and how “labeling” a person can ruin his life. The undercurrent themes include ethics, family secrets, and integrity. This sounds really deep, but the book was an easy, thrilling read. The story unfolds and we are riveted. There are many twists in the plot—crooked turns, let’s call them— and a lot of ground to cover. I don’t want to give too much away here because then it’s pointless to read the book. The opening scene is a killer, very graphic and sudden. There are many uncomfortable moments in the book that the reader has to endure, but in the end we leave with hope for these characters and hope for humankind in all walks of life. I highly recommend this book.Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,