by Tom Franklin (Macmillan) ISBN 978-0-230-75305-1
Winner of the Edgar Award for Mystery Writers, Tom Franklin brings us a novel of suspense set in small town Mississippi.
The title refers to a mnemonic that aids children in the southern states of the USA to spell the name of this state. The book deals with the relationship between boyhood friends, one white, the reclusive Larry Ott, and one black, the former baseball hero, now constable Silas ‘32’ Jones.
The story is set against the background of two cases of teenage girls who disappeared twenty years apart. Larry is a suspect in both cases. Silas is involved in solving the second. Matters become complicated when Larry is shot and only lives because Silas saves him.
The story is well crafted and beautifully written and yet I didn’t really get into it. I found it lacking in real suspense, the pace too slow. For me the two characters and their relationship lacked spark and depth, which is surprising considering the revelations about their past.
The pace might reflect the Mississippi pace with the extensive descriptions of people and surroundings. It does present a vivid picture of life in the rural South in the early ’80s and the early 2000s. This makes it an entertaining, but not thrilling, read.