As the country searches for answers following the assassination of JFK, two individuals searching for a new beginning cross paths and take an instant interest in one another.
Frank Guidry learns the hard way that when it comes to the criminal underworld, everyone is expendable. After years of serving Carlos Marcello, a prominent New Orleans crime lord, Frank’s usefulness has finally run its course. Then again, so has everyone else’s, as those connected to the mob boss all begin turning up dead after America’s beloved president is publicly murdered.
After dumping a car that was supposed to play a role in the shooting in Dallas, Frank discovers that Paul Barone, a skilled hitman with a devastatingly lethal resumé, has been tasked with killing him before anyone uncovers the link between the assassination and Marcello. Forced to go on the run, Frank’s only chance at survival is to get all the way to Las Vegas and link up with one of Carlos Marcello’s rivals, who not only hates the New Orleans mob man enough to help Frank disappear, but has the resources to make sure nobody ever finds him.
While Frank needs to disappear, Charlotte Roy, meanwhile, wants to disappear. After another Sunday dinner where Dooly, her drunk and useless husband, puts on a good show for his parents, Charlotte decides she’s had enough. Packing up essentials for herself and her two daughters, Joan and Rosemary, Charlotte loads everything up in the car, grabs her girls, and hits the road. With only nine hundred bucks and dreams of a better life to her name, Charlotte takes the first step towards creating a better future for her girls in California. Her poorly planned getaway takes a turn for the worse, though, after her car breaks down.
Frank, still determined to get out of dodge, can’t help but stop to help the pretty mother stranded on the side of the road with her girls. So, pretending to be an insurance salesman on his way to Los Angeles to help his fictitious New York-based company “conquer the world,” Frank helps Charlotte out. Almost immediately, it hits him that the best way to camouflage his movement is to travel with Charlotte and her daughters.
Knowing that Barone is looking for a single man on the run, Guidry decides to use Charlotte and her girls, getting close to them over the following days in order to pose as a family journeying west together. What starts as a selfish charade quickly turns into something unexpected when Frank and Charlotte begin to show feelings for each other. They’re each attracted to the other’s qualities and outlook on life. But each also has closely guarded secrets, and as those begin to come out, the story takes one unexpected turn after another. Frank soon realizes he must decide if he’d rather keep running and disappear before Barone catches up with him. . . or take a chance on actually living alongside Charlotte and her girls.
Using the backdrop of JFK’s assassination was a brilliant move by Berney, who then uses the uncertainty of the moment to merge two lives together in a way that’s oddly beautiful. Normally, readers might not find it easy to root for a guy who might have, kinda sorta, had a small hand in Kennedy’s murder. And yet, with Frank Guidry, Lou Berney delivers a masterful tale of redemption, running parallel to Charlotte’s inspiring message of hope. On their own, they’re entertaining, but together they’re incredibly uplifting. And by having a killer lurking in the shadows hot on their trail, threatening their newfound happiness, Berney keeps the suspense red-lining throughout.
Incredibly well-written and deftly plotted, Lou Berney’s November Road is one of the year’s best novels. . . and a story readers will be talking about for a very long time.
Author: Lou Berney
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.