Excerpt from November Road by Lou Berney, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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November Road

by Lou Berney

November Road by Lou Berney X
November Road by Lou Berney
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2018, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2019, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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3

Sunlight slid over Guidry, and the dream he'd been having jerked and blurred like film jumping off the sprockets of a movie projector. Five seconds later he couldn't remember much about the dream. A bridge. A house in the middle of the bridge, where no house should be. Guidry had been standing at a window of the house, or maybe he was on a balcony, peering down at the water and trying to spot a ripple.

He flopped out of bed, his head as huge and tender as a rotten pumpkin. Aspirin. Two glasses of water. He was prepared, now, to pull on his pants and negotiate the hallway. Art Pepper. That was Guidry's favorite cure for a hangover. He slid Smack Up from the cardboard sleeve and placed it on the turntable. "How Can You Lose" was his favorite tune on the album. He felt better already.

It was two o'clock in the afternoon, or what residents of the French Quarter called the crack of dawn. Guidry made a pot of scalding-hot coffee and filled two mugs, topping off his with a healthy shot of Macallan. Scotch was his other favorite cure for a hangover. He took a swallow and listened to Pepper's saxophone weaving in and out of the melody like a dog dodging traffic.

The redhead was still knocked out, the sheet on her side of the bed kicked away and one arm flung over her head. But wait a second. She was a brunette now, no longer a redhead. Fuller lips, no freckles. How had that happened? He remained perplexed—was he still dreaming?—until he remembered that today was Friday, not Thursday, and the redhead had been the night before last.

Too bad. He could've dined out on that story for weeks, how he was so good in the sack that he'd banged the freckles right off a girl.

Jane? Jennifer? Guidry had forgotten the brunette's name. She worked for TWA. Or maybe that had been the redhead before her. Julia?

"Rise and shine, sunshine," he said.

She turned to him with a sleepy smile, her lipstick flaking off. "What time is it?"

He handed her a mug. "Time for you to beat it."

In the shower he lathered up and planned his day. Seraphine first, find out what she had for him. After that he'd get started on the deal that Sam Saia's boy had brought him at the Carousel the other night. Was Saia's boy steady? Everything Guidry had heard about him said so, but better to ask around and make sure before he committed himself.

What else? Pop into the bar across from the courthouse to buy a few rounds and soak up the scuttlebutt. Dinner with Al LaBruzzo, God help us all. LaBruzzo had his heart set on buying a go-go joint. Guidry would have to handle him delicately—he was Sam's brother, and Sam was Carlos's driver. By the end of dinner, Guidry would have to convince Al to convince himself that no, no, he didn't want Guidry's money after all, would refuse even if Guidry got down on his knees and begged him to take it.

Guidry shaved, trimmed his nails, browsed the closet. He picked a brown windowpane suit with slim notched lapels and a Continental cut. Cream-colored shirt, green tie. Green tie? No. Thanksgiving was less than a week away, and he wanted to get into the spirit of the season. He swapped the green tie for one the deep, dusty orange of an autumn sunset.

When he stepped into the living room, he saw that the brunette was still there. She was curled up on the sofa—not even dressed yet, ye gods—watching the television.

He went over to the window and found her skirt and her blouse on the floor where they'd fallen the night before, her bra hanging on the bar cart. He tossed the clothes at her.

"One Mississippi," he said. "Two Mississippi. I'll give you till five."

"He's gone." She didn't even look at Guidry. "I can't believe it." Guidry realized that she was crying. "Who?"

Excerpted from November Road by Lou Berney. Copyright © 2018 by Lou Berney. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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