Publishers Weekly Review
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. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Rural Mississippi in the 1970s was rife with racial tension, but skin color didn't matter to boyhood companions Silas Jones and Larry Ott. Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother, and Larry, the child of white lower-middle-class parents, were both outsiders, Silas because of his color, Larry because he was quiet and a little odd, his nose always buried in horror novels. The young men's bond strengthened over time, until the night a pretty local girl went on a date with Larry to the drive-in movies and was never heard from again. No body was found and Larry never confessed, but that didn't keep the townspeople from suspecting him. Estranged from his friend, Silas heads off to college in Oxford, Mississippi, and more than 20 years later, returns to take a job as town constable. He sees no reason to contact Larry, who's settled into a lonely existence as a mechanic, unable to escape the relentless whispers and dirty looks. The disappearance of another girl brings the two former friends back together, forcing them to come to terms with buried secrets and dark truths. Edgar Award winner Franklin (Hell at the Breech, 2003) renders luminous prose and a cast of compelling characters in this moody, masterful entry.--Block, Allison Copyright 2010 Booklist