November Road
by Berney, Lou

"From Edgar Award-winning author Lou Berney, a poignant and evocative crime novel featuring a cat-and-mouse chase across 1960's America in the wake of the Kennedy assassination"-

*Starred Review* Library shelves are already bulging with novels about the JFK assassination in all its permutations. So what makes Berney's take so different and so unforgettable? For starters, it's not really about the assassination. There are no grassy knolls and no ballistic analyses. Yes, the assassination is the engine that starts the story, and, yes, those days in the wake of that history-changing moment set the book's tone, but what follows is essentially a road novel mixed with a romance-and a noir chaser. Frank Guidry, a soldier in New Orleans mobster Carlos Marcello's family, happens to know something he shouldn't about what happened in Dallas-something he would give anything not to know. But he does know it, and that means he's a loose end. Nothing to do but run, which Frank does, heading west and harboring the unlikely dream of reaching that chimerical frontier where Marcello's boys can't find him. On the road, he meets another would-be escapee, Charlotte Roy, running from an abusive husband and standing with her two young daughters beside their broken-down car. What great cover, Frank thinks, traveling with a woman, two kids, even a dog. So begins a road trip across midcentury Middle America in which a man, a woman, and two children all have their very different expectations about what awaits them upended completely. Berney bends his notes exquisitely, playing with the melody, building his marvelously rich characters while making us commit completely to the love story, even though we hear the melancholy refrain and see the noir cloud lurking in the sky. Pitch-perfect fiction. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: 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. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

As a shocked nation mourns the assassination of John F. Kennedy, two lost souls looking for a new chance at life find each other along the wide-open Western highways. In Berney's (The Long and Faraway Gone, 2015, etc.) latest, Frank Guidry's skills have made him an invaluable part of Carlos Marcello's illegal New Orleans empire, but they don't protect him when he becomes a loose end. On the run and struggling to stay one step ahead of a terrifyingly proficient hit man, Frank meets Charlotte Roy and her two daughters. Charlotte has made the impulsive decision to leave her alcoholic husband and her claustrophobic hometown and start a new life in California when she runs her car into a ditch. With a well-honed sense of self-preservation, Frank realizes that traveling as a man with a family would be the perfect cover, so he skillfully manipulates himself into the role of savior. As he and Charlotte begin to care for each other, Frank has to decide whether he can safely take her a nd the girls with him on his escape. Charlotte, for her part, is no delicate flower; she'll do whatever it takes to provide opportunities for her daughters to grow up as strong, independent women. Any novel that invokes the era following the death of JFK inevitably illustrates the moment our country's zeitgeist changed. The 1960s, of course, were rife with revolution and change, from music to relations between men and women to the start of the Vietnam War. Berney's gentle, descriptive writing brilliantly reflects these times of both disillusionment and hope. The men in the novel, including Frank and Barone, the hit man, also symbolize the Romantic notion of a time that has come to an end. As the title suggests, there is an autumnal, melancholic sense of loss at the heart of the novel, yet still, the loss is not destructive or debilitating. It is the kind of loss that gives way to a new world order. 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. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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