The third shortlisted book for the CWA Gold Dagger Awards is Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which was also an Edgar Award nominee.Franklin weaves a mesmerising tale of two childhood friends who take very different paths in rural Mississippi (hence the Crooked Letter title ― if you don't know what I mean, Google it).
Silas Jones leaves his impoverished youth behind thanks to his skill at sports, returning to his hometown as the local constable. Larry Ott isn't so lucky. On his one date in high school, the girl he took to the movies disappeared, never to be seen again. Without any proof that he was involved a crime, Larry is never charged, but he becomes an outcast and the person the town loves to hate. Now another girl has disappeared. When Larry is shot by an unknown attacker, Silas finds himself dredging up the past while sifting through the present evidence.
In Crooked Letter, Franklin steeps an intoxicating brew of friendship and menace, capturing the small-town rural South, where a mirage of shimmering heat and the drone of insects lulls you into a a false sense of security so you don't see the snake in the grass (or the mailbox).
The true heart of this fantastic book, though, resides in the characters, who are so vibrant that I find myself thinking about them weeks after finishing the book. (2011 - HarperCollins)
When thinking of a snack to enjoy with Crooked Letter, I kept coming back to something with honey. Franklin's characters are right out of the rural South, where a honeyed drawl can hide the sting of painful words.
3/4 cup popcorn
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 quarts popped popcorn
1 1/2 cups peanuts
Melt butter in large saucepan. Stir in honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and let boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and soda. Place popcorn in a large bowl, then pour syrup over popcorn. Add peanuts and stir thoroughly. Turn onto 2 greased baking sheets. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes with a spatula. Remove from oven and cool before serving. (Recipe from the National Honey Board)