I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.November Road by Lou Berney
Published by William Morrow & Company on October 9, 2018
Genres: Adult, Historical, Mafia, Murder, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Road Trip
Source: TLC Book Tours
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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.
With three people on the road across America for very different reasons, historical thriller November Road is a gripping novel set during the time of the JFK assassination. Charlotte has had enough of her simple life in Oklahoma, married to an alcoholic that treats her and her daughters well, but she can’t be more than a wife, a mother, and have a dead-end job in their small town. She finally gets the opportunity to leave, and she does–taking the kids and dog, driving west to California where she has an aunt that she’s barely spoken to over the years. But they have car trouble in New Mexico that leaves them stranded, and a kindly stranger gets into their good graces and offers to drive them where they need to go since he’s headed that way as well.
Frank Guidry is well-connected and highly respected in Carlos Marcello’s organization. He’s a successful, respected, and handsome late-thirties guy that just happens to work for one of the most dangerous mob bosses of the 1960s. When he’s tasked with disposing of a vehicle that’s parked a few blocks away from where the president was assassinated, there’s no way he can say no. But doing so has now made him a liability and a marked man, so he’s fleeing Dallas and running for his life. He needs to blend in when he knows that a hit man is hot on his tail, and when he finds and attractive woman traveling alone with her young daughters that just so happen to need some help, he seizes the opportunity. But neither Charlotte or Frank ever thought that they would get personally involved or that this relationship would put them in danger.
Paul Barone has been tasked with finding Frank and ending him. Paul is ruthless, efficient, and does what is asked of him without much thought. But Frank turns out to be the biggest challenge of his professional life, and hunting him down puts not only other people in danger, but also the hit man himself as he travels into enemy territory in search of his clever mark.
With alternating chapters between these three characters’ points of view, I really enjoyed the cat and mouse game as Frank crisscrossed the country as he ran for his life. Frank is charming, smart, and resourceful, while Charlotte is well-suited for Frank in those same regards. But Charlotte has her children to worry about, but she’s also taking a little time to be selfish and put herself first for once. The hit man Paul is shockingly brutal and one-track minded, and he won’t stop until he’s found Frank and his new female companions.
I give November Road a four out of five. Set against the backdrop of the JFK assassination, this historical thriller was a bit of a slow burn for me, but I really enjoyed it once the story and pacing picked up over the last half. Since it’s set in the 1960s, hot topics like segregation, female’s doing most of the child rearing, and women’s lack of work prospects were deftly explored. Second chances play a big part in November Road, and both Charlotte and Frank see their road trip as second chances in their lives. Charlotte can start a new life in California with her daughters, hopefully with a fulfilling career while Frank hopes to have a loving, committed relationship with Charlotte and her girls–the type of family that he’s never known. It was nice to get an epilogue with Charlotte’s children to see how everyone turned out. The narrative style and writing was smooth and descriptive, and I was easily imagining the trip right along with them.
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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.
Connect with Lou Berney
Lou Berney’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for NOVEMBER ROAD:
Tuesday, October 9th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats
Wednesday, October 10th: Instagram: @reading.betweenthewines
Thursday, October 11th: Instagram: @dropandgivemenerdy
Friday, October 12th: Instagram: @throneofshatteredbooks
Saturday, October 13th: Instagram: @thepagesinbetween
Sunday, October 14th: Instagram: @oddandbookish
Tuesday, October 16th: Instagram: @readingbetweenthe__wines
Wednesday, October 10th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, October 12th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, October 15th: Thoughts From a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Tuesday, October 16th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Wednesday, October 17th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, October 18th: TBR, etc.
Friday, October 19th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, October 22nd: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, October 22nd: Instagram: @girlsinbooks
Tuesday, October 23rd: Instagram: @writersdream
Wednesday, October 24th: Literary Quicksand
Thursday, October 25th: The Pages In-Between
Friday, October 26th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, October 29th: Novel Gossip
Wednesday, October 31st: Jessicamap Reviews
Thursday, November 1st: The Paperback Pilgrim
Thursday, November 1st: Dreams, Etc.
Friday, November 2nd: Instagram: @reading.wanderwoman