As he submerges us in the sweat of the South, Franklin's people...come alive, some of them with a vengeance. In a lesser writer's hands, the relationship between Larry and 32 —the heart of the novel—could have been black and white. Pardon the pun. But Franklin plays the literary equivalent of the blues, digging beneath the surface to reveal tangled emotion and intricate motivation.
Steve Bennett - San Antonio Express
Keeping the story's tension pulled tight, ...the writer's incredible talent emerges as he delves into the issue of race through exploring events that have formed each man. Descriptions of the town's other characters, including the families of the two missing girls, add to the flavor of the rural locale and help guide the plot.
Mary Popham - Louisville Courier- Journal
Franklin's third novel (after Smonk) is a meandering tale of an unlikely friendship marred by crime and racial strain in smalltown Mississippi. Silas Jones and Larry Ott have known each other since their late 1970s childhood when Silas lived with his mother in a cabin on land owned by Larry's father. At school they could barely acknowledge one another, Silas being black and Larry white, but they secretly formed a bond hunting, fishing, and just being boys in the woods. When a girl goes missing after going on a date with Larry, he is permanently marked as dangerous despite the lack of evidence linking him to her disappearance, and the two boys go their separate ways. Twenty-five years later, Silas is the local constable, and when another girl disappears, Larry, an auto mechanic with few customers and fewer friends, is once again a person of interest. The Southern atmosphere is rich, but while this novel has the makings of an engaging crime drama, the languid shifting from present to past, the tedious tangential yarns, and the heavy-handed reveal at the end generate far more fizz than pop.
(Starred review.) A ripping good mystery, this novel also has depth and a subtle literary side, as the local area comes to life through the writer’s cinematic descriptive phrases and a large and colorful cast of supporting characters. Highly recommended.
(Starred review.) Skin color didn’t matter to boyhood companions Silas Jones and Larry Ott...until the night a pretty local girl went on a date with Larry to the drive-in movies and was never heard from again.... [M]ore than 20 years later...the disappearance of another girl brings the two former friends back together, forcing them to come to terms with buried secrets and dark truths.... Luminous prose and a cast of compelling characters in this moody, masterful entry. —Allison Block
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