The Tilted World
by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly
HarperCollins, 2013. 300 pgs. Fiction
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which flooded 27,000 square miles and buried 1.5 million acres under water, is the setting of this deeply literary mystery/romance/historical novel. Ham Johnson and Ted Ingersoll are revenuers, sent by soon-to-be president Herbert Hoover himself to find out what happened to two missing agents in (fictional) Hobnob, Mississippi. Amid the constant threat of overtopped levees and relentless precipitation, the two encounter the additional complication of discovering a baby at a crime scene, both parents dead. Ingersoll delivers the baby to a recently-bereaved mother, little knowing that her husband may well be the key to the missing agents. Tension rises with the river, as a plot to blow the levee emerges and Ingersoll must decide whether to give his all to the investigation and perhaps save many lives, or to try to save the woman he has come to love. Beautifully well written, The Tilted World is a fascinating look at an oddly forgotten moment of American history, during the worst flood we have ever had.