Moonshine, Murder and the Great Mississippi Floods
by Jon Page - October 24th, 2013
I loved Tom Franklin’s award winning Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter but it was with a bit of hesitation that I picked up his latest book. Not because the story didn’t appeal to me (it did) but because he has teamed up with his wife to write this book and I am not sure about co-authored books.
I can’t remember reading a dual authored book before and for some reason felt a reluctance to do so. I’m not even sure how the process works. Do co-authors alternate chapters or write different parts? Or do they write different characters’ points of view and meld everything together. There are probably a myriad of different ways it is done and with The Titled World it is impossible to tell as it is written and reads seamlessly.
Franklin and Fennelly tap into the world of bootlegging which seems to be making a comeback in crime fiction at the moment on the back of Boardwalk Empire. Set in the fictional town of Hobnob on the banks of the Mississippi during the great floods of 1927. Bootlegging has been rife in the community and when two revenue agents go missing aspiring Presidential candidate Herbert Hoover sends his two most trusted agents in to investigate. Posing as engineers they soon get caught up in the efforts to save the town from the flood waters. The town’s levees are threatening to break, either through the huge build up of water or at the hands of saboteurs down river.
The story is told from the one of the revenue agents’ point of view, Teddy Ingersoll, and that of bootlegging, house wife Dixie Clay (this maybe where the authors alternate but I couldn’t detect any changes in style or tone). Their lives and fates become entangled over an orphaned baby and when the levee eventually breaks their worlds are literally and figuratively turned upside down.
While The Tilted World doesn’t reach the heights or trawl the depths that Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter did I still thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I’m not sure it has cured me of my reluctance to read co-authored books but I will be a little more willing in the future.