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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

CWA: Tom Franklin wins the CWA Gold Dagger 2011

Tom Franklin was named winner of the 2011 CWA Gold Dagger, for “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” published by Macmillan. The announcement was made at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards.

The judges explained why they had chosen this book: “A disturbing crime lies at the heart of this mesmerising tale, an evocative and thought-provoking exposure of entrenched views of racial tensions, childhood trauma & adult prejudices in small town Mississippi; handled sensitively, exquisite writing, this is a novel you never want to end and leaves you drained but ultimately enriched for the experience.”

Synopsis: Amos, Mississippi, is a quiet town. Silas Jones is its sole law enforcement officer. The last excitement here was nearly twenty years ago, when a teenage girl disappeared on a date with Larry Ott, Silas’s one-time boyhood friend. The law couldn’t prove Larry guilty, but the whole town has shunned him ever since.

Then the town’s peace is shattered when someone tries to kill the reclusive Ott, another young woman goes missing, and the town’s drug dealer is murdered. Woven through the tautly written murder story is the unspoken secret that hangs over the lives of two men – one black, one white.

Judges’ comments: Larry and Silas, white and black, boyhood friends in rural Mississippi thirty years ago, are separated by an apparent crime that changes their lives. A poignant suspense novel drenched in the languid atmosphere of small-town Mississippi where police investigate the murder of a local teenage girl. The novel explores fractured friendships and families as the legacy of racism, poverty, loneliness and misplaced suspicion from decades back.

Tom Franklin is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA programme and lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their children.