November Road by Lou Berney
Published: October 9, 2018, William Morrow, HarperCollins
Swathi’s Rating: 4/5
Verdict: a poignant and evocative crime plot tangled with a perfect American Love story.
Are you a fan of THE GODFATHER? Absurd question! The casual response will be “well, who isn’t!”
Do you like reading Historical Crime fiction with a complicated romance in between?
Well, this is the story that portrays the fierceness of the Godfather aka Carlos Marcello himself, and the crime of the century: JFK assassination! Such bold characters and terrific plots can’t be written easily, and it involves some serious writing skills and experience. Lou Berney, though, does it with ease!
Here is what the plot looks like.
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.
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 teaches at the University of Oklahoma and in the Red Earth MFA program at Oklahoma City University.
Find him on Twitter @Lou_Berney
I was put to a slow start getting to know Frank Guidry, his ties with Carlos and Charlotte’s family for a few chapters. This nice classical touch adds sentiment to the lead protagonists, making the readers melt for both of them. Soon the news of the President’s assassination is revealed, and Frank realises in his bloodstream that Carlos is ruling out every piece of thorn in his way, before the police could sniff it back to him.
Frank Guidry, top lieutenant in Carlos Marcello’s New Orleans based crime organization, realized he (unknowingly) helped to orchestrate the president’s murder by setting up an escape car for the JFK’s sniper just 2 blocks from the assassination site and now he’s a very real target to Carlos.
For Charlotte in small-town Oklahoma, she realises her marriage isn’t working anymore with her lazy good-for-nothing husband. She had to take her daughters and leave her husband. Who would have the guts to do such thing back in 1963? Women are meant to fall in love, get married, and stay married until one of them died. Written so meticulously are Charlotte’s hesitation and doubts about decision and worrying for her daughters’s unknown future.
At one point, the most anticipated meet happens, and everything changes instantaneously. Frank and Charlotte meet in a roadside hotel in New Mexico, and see in one another their only hope of safe escape.
Anything I say from this point of the story is a Spoiler, and I’m going to be tight lipped now! I can guarantee a heart warming romance, with a cat-and-mouse chase altogether making it the most irresistible story of the year! The pages automatically turn until the reader knows that they’re safe and well!!!
From the skillful hands of Lou Berney who crafts exceptionally human, nuanced characters, I am so thrilled to share my review on this fantastic book chosen as the HarperCollins Lead Read for Fall 2018. I strongly recommend this to my fellow readers everywhere, and hope you will love this book as much as I did.
Thanks to this publisher for the Advanced copy. All opinions are honest and they are my own.
Happy reading! XoXo!