Summary and book reviews of November Road by Lou Berney

November Road

by Lou Berney

November Road by Lou Berney X
November Road by Lou Berney
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2018, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2019, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

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.

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...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Gripping novels are founded on brilliant characterization and/or a nail-biting plot. November Road's portrait of Guidry falls into the usual "criminal with a heart of gold" cliche-ridden trap but Charlotte's slow evolution into a woman realizing her own power is a thing of beauty. Author Lou Berney is an Edgar-award winner and it shows. The story moves along at a compulsive clip and is powered by crisp and sharp writing...continued

Full Review (645 words).

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(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Edgar-winner Berney (The Long and Faraway Gone) takes a familiar plot in unexpected directions in this moving novel... This is much more than just another conspiracy thriller.

Booklist
Starred Review. Breakout novel is an overused phrase, but it just may fit this much-buzzed-about jewel from a writer who easily reaches across the aisle separating thrillers and literary fiction.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Perfectly captures these few weeks at the end of 1963 - all that was lost and all that lay tantalizingly and inevitably just beyond the horizon.

Library Journal (starred review)
Berney's follow-up to The Long and Faraway Gone explores relationships between two complicated and realized characters. With depth and genre crossover appeal, this literary crime thriller will please fans of Dennis Lehane or George Pelecanos and also satisfy a wider audience.

Author Blurb Don Winslow, New York Times bestselling author
November Road is a remarkable and unforgettable reading experience... You will recommend it to friends. You will read it again. Berney is a writer to be read and admired. This is a staggeringly brilliant book and a flat-out terrific read.

Author Blurb Megan Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of You Will Know Me
It's a crime story, a love story, a deeply American story. With November Road, Berney proves beyond doubt that he's one of the most talented crime novelists working today.

Author Blurb Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of Sunburn
Lou Berney has quickly become one of crime fiction's stand-outs, a quietly subversive writer who can surprise the most jaded readers. November Road delivers everything we have come to expect from him - and then some.

Author Blurb Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
November Road is a thriller that defies categorization. A triumph of plot and prose and a brilliant depiction of the contradictions of 1960s America, the innocence, the violence, and the longing.

Author Blurb A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Nothing less than an instant American classic. Haunting, thrilling - and indelible as a scar.

Author Blurb Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew
November Road is an absolute gem of a crime novel. Utterly immersive and pitch perfect in every way.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Three JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories

November Road is based on one of the conspiracy theories behind President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Although outwardly, the Warren Commission that investigated the crime stated that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole perpetrator in Dallas, it did not lay to rest the theories that have been fueled and fed since that infamous date in 1964.

Theory 1 Alleged Culprit: Mob boss Carlos Marcello

Jack RubySince Oswald was subsequently shot dead by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, and since Jack Ruby had ties to New Orleans mob boss, Carlos Marcello, there's speculation that the gangster had commissioned the assassination. By then, Marcello had had a long history of run-ins with both President Kennedy and his brother, Senator Robert Kennedy. In...

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