November Road by Lou Berney
US Review Copy
Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel – 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 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. Suspecting he’s next, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas. When he spots a beautiful housewife and her two young daughters stranded on the side of the road, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his trail.
The two strangers share the open road west – and find each other on the way. But Guidry’s relentless hunters are closing in on him, and now he doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.
Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love. And it might get them both killed.
November Road is an atmospheric novel set amongst the backdrop of the JFK assassination. I am a huge fan of American Noir and historical fiction, so I couldn’t wait to get started on this novel. I am new to Lou Berney’s writing but will be keeping an eye out for future titles by the author.
The novel opens in 1963 New Orleans, with one of our central character Frank Guidry. Frank currently works for mob boss Carlos Marcello, but fears after the assassination of JFK, he himself will be left for dead.
‘Someone shot him. Someone shot President Kennedy’
Franks possibly involvement and links to the assassination is all fully explored within his narrative. You actually begin to become quite attached to Frank, as he desperately seeks to leave town before he is killed. . .
‘Bobby Kennedy and the FBI wouldn’t stop until they’d turned over every goddamn rock’
The other central is mother of two young daughters Charlie (Charlotte). Charlie is a photographer by trade, she is married to a deadbeat alcoholic named Dooley. They are behind on their mortgage and struggling financially. In a moment of madness, she packs up her and her daughter’s Rosemary and Joan’s possessions and leaves town. Charlie seeks a better life for her daughter’s, than the life she has lived. She knows the only way to achieve this, is to break free of Dooley.
But Dooley might not be quite so keen to see her leave. . .
‘Divorce was the edge of a cliff. Once you flung yourself into the great blue yonder, there was no going back’
The lives of Frank and Charlie collide, and this is when the novel really shines. We are show the narratives of Frank, Charlie and those hunting Guidry.
It amps up the intensity of the novel and threat to Guidry’s life.
‘He couldn’t chase the idea from his head that maybe, just maybe, Seraphine and Carlos planned to kill him’
Through Charlie’s eyes we learn what life was truly like in the 1960s. An era that would go on to be the beginning of the female sexual revolution. But also, one where divorce was considered a scandal of the highest order.
Between Charlie and Frank, a meeting of minds develops, an unusual pairing but both desperately fleeing uncertain circumstances.
The era and background history really add to the story.
Fantastic historical American noir 4*