Book Review: November Road by Lou Berney | More2Read Reviews
 

November Road by Lou Berney

 



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.



Praise:

“November Road is a remarkable and unforgettable reading experience… You will recommend it to friends. You will read it again. Berney is a writer to be read and admired. This is a staggeringly brilliant book and a flat-out terrific read.”
– Don Winslow, New York Times Bestselling Author

“From its first frenetic pages to its wrenching final ones, Lou Berney takes us on the ride of a lifetime…It’s a crime story, a love story, a deeply American story. With November Road, Berney proves beyond doubt that he’s one of the most talented crime novelists working today.”
– Megan Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of You Will Know Me

“Lou Berney has quickly become one of crime fiction’s stand-outs, a quietly subversive writer who can surprise the most jaded readers. November Road delivers everything we have come to expect from him — and then some.”
– Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of Sunburn

“November Road is a thriller that defies categorization. A triumph of plot and prose and a brilliant depiction of the contradictions of 1960s America, the innocence, the violence, and the longing.”
– Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

“Nothing less than an instant American classic. Haunting, thrilling—and indelible as a scar.”
– A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“November Road is an absolute gem of a crime novel. Utterly immersive and pitch perfect in every way.”
– Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew

“In November Road, Lou Berney shows you everything that crime fiction can be—a tightrope story that takes you across the entire landscape of America, lived by characters as real as anyone you’ve ever known… It’s the best book I’ve read this year—and second place isn’t even close.”
– Steve Hamilton, New York Times bestselling author and two-time Edgar winner

“Berney’s gentle, descriptive writing brilliantly reflects these times of both disillusionment and hope… Perfectly captures these few weeks at the end of 1963—all that was lost and all that lay tantalizingly and inevitably just beyond the horizon.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“Berney’s follow-up to The Long and Faraway Gone explores relationships between two complicated and realized characters. With depth and genre crossover appeal, this literary crime thriller will please fans of Dennis Lehane or George Pelecanos and also satisfy a wider audience.”
– Library Journal

“Berney creates nail-biting suspense by placing Marcello’s top hit man on Guidry’s trail, the book’s power derives from Charlotte, who finds hidden strength as she confronts unexpected challenges. This is much more than just another conspiracy thriller.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Berney bends his notes exquisitely, playing with the melody, building his marvelously rich characters while making us commit completely to the love story, even though we hear the melancholy refrain and see the noir cloud lurking in the sky. Pitch-perfect fiction.”
– Booklist


Review:

“Get rid of the Eldorado. And then get rid of the man who got rid of the Eldorado. Get rid of the man who knows about Dallas.”

“that first bullet in Dallas turned everything around.”

A November day it was, a month of one particular murder that shook the world, one Friday, November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m was the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States.

Carlos Marcello was once known as The Godfather and “The Little Man” a Italian-American mafioso who ruled the New Orleans crime family from 1947 until the late 1980s.
As wikipedia mentions, “Credible investigators, mob figures, Robert F. Kennedy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly believed Marcello masterminded the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in retaliation for federal prosecution that threatened his multi-billion dollar international organized crime empire.[1]

Very interesting.
This author goes with that theory in ways, and runs with one of two main characters, Frank Guidry, a man caught in a web, bad guy come man possibly with second chances, with some real love, and a different life.
Life can never be the same after that somber November day.
Frank Guidry, “..dark hair and olive skin, his lean build and dimpled chin, the Cajun slant to his green eyes.”
A sky-blue Cadillac Eldorado connected to the assassination, Frank Guidry connected to the Cadillac crosses paths with Charlotte with kids, running away from alcoholic husband, for a better life, all in the balance of life and death and in the scope of hitman on their chase a Mr. Paul Barone.

I loved 11/22/63 by Stephen King that also dealt with the JFK assassination and there is Libra by Don Delillo.
You never know maybe this book may have that once planned movie, Legacy of Secrecy, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro see the light of day.

The hit, the chase, the clean up shop, and then finding oneself in a tangled web and the weight of murder of the most famous, a president, and the bat shit craziness they find themselves in the facts that whirlwind around the whole myriad of conspiratorial complexities of American dreams corrupted.

A tantalizing memorable suspenseful tale done with a crisp and potent voice, with a noir sense of thrill, with love, death, and dreams in the balance.



Excerpts:

“Behold! The Big Easy in all its wicked splendor!
Frank Guidry paused at the corner of Toulouse to bask in the neon furnace glow. He’d lived in New Orleans the better part of his thirty-seven years on earth, but the dirty glitter and sizzle of the French Quarter still hit his bloodstream like a drug. Yokels and locals, muggers and hustlers, fire-eaters and magicians. A go-go girl was draped over the wrought-iron rail of a second-floor balcony, one boob sprung free from her sequined negligee and swaying like a metronome to the beat of the jazz trio inside. Bass, drums, piano, tearing through “Night and Day.” But that was New Orleans for you. Even the worst band in the crummiest clip joint in the city could swing, man, swing.”

“The art of the payoff. Guidry understood each man’s price, the right kicker to close the deal. A girl? A boy? A girl and a boy?”

“Charlotte remembered lying sprawled in the sun afterward, daydreaming about skyscrapers in New York City and movie premieres in Hollywood and jeeps on the African savanna, wondering which of many delightful and exotic futures awaited her. Anything was possible. Everything was possible.”


Carlos Marcello



 




 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 28 September 2018