William Morrow, New York, 2010
I borrowed this one from the library. This is the second book to knock me off the TBR Dare, it was worth it.
This is a novel I could not stop reading. It is a mystery, but so much more than that.
Silas “32” Jones has returned to the tiny town of Chabot, Mississippi and is the town constable. Larry Ott, an auto mechanic has been ostracized by the community ever since he was suspected in the disappearance of a high school acquaintance. Now another girl has disappeared and Larry is the prime suspect.
It is a great story, a fine mystery, and the issue of friendship tinged by racism make it even stronger. But it is Franklin’s writing that held me and has me wanting to read more of his work. The narration moves back and forth in time and the depth of feeling Franklin shows between Larry and Silas as boys, and the distance that has come between them as men, is the main theme of this story, even as the mystery is built up around them.
They rolled the push mower out of the barn and into the sunlight and Larry showed him how to check the oil and the gas and how to prime the pump, how to pull the cord to crank it. Then, yelling over the noise, Larry showed him how to adjust the motor speed and push the mower in rows, narrowing towards a center. Silas snatched the handle and said okay, his turn. He loved it, the buzz of the motor, hot fresh cut grass in the air, between his bare toes, wild onion sizzling on the frame, the bar vibrating in his fists and the occasional mangled stick flung from the vent. When he was a kid one time, Larry yelled, walking alongside Silas, Larry’s daddy was cutting grass and Larry watching and his daddy ran over a rock that shot like a bullet and bounced off Larry’s bare stomach and left a red imprint of itself. Larry’s daddy had laughed real hard. Even took a Polaroid and laughed every time he looked at it. You had to be careful of where you let the vent aim, was Larry’s point. You didn’t want to spray any rocks out towards any cars or towards people, see? Silas turned and left Larry standing and mowed rows and rows and kept mowing, loving the design he was making. It felt good, like combing his hair..From page 151.
There is innocence here, mixed with the struggles of growing up, and the pressure from adults to copy beliefs and prejudices. It is a beautifully drawn story and will be one of my favorites of the year.
Have you read and reviewed this novel? Leave a comment and I will add your link.