Review: November Road by Lou Berney

About November Road

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (October 9, 2018)

Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

Guidry knows that the first rule of running is “don’t stop,” but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.

For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.

It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.

Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.

Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.

And it might get them both killed.

Review:

I generally don’t read a ton of historical fiction novels that have a mystery at the forefront, but like so many others I’ve always been fascinated by the Kennedy family so this one captured my attention immediately. I’m also enamored with the sixties and having the assassination of JFK as the catalyst for events in the characters lives was so interesting for me.

This switches back and forth from Frank and Charlotte’s point of view as they both escape demons in their lives and is such a classic game of cat and mouse written by a truly gifted writer. This is multifaceted with so many deep layers, it’s rich with history, both true and fictional and it’s also a crime novel, but you can’t downplay the romance either. The characterization is fantastic as well, love them or hate them they are highly memorable and authentic. Recommended for fans of books that leap across genres, there’s something for everyone here.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

© Brandon Michael Smith

About Lou Berney

Lou Berney is the author of three previous novels, Gutshot Straight, Whiplash River, and multiple prize-winning The Long and Faraway Gone. His short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Find out more about Lou at his website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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