November Road, by Lou Berney
HarperCollins ISBN-10: 0008309337
November Road unfolds in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination. Frank Guidry knows everyone—as a loyal and long-serving lieutenant to New Orleans Mob boss, Carlo Marcello, it’s what he’s paid to do. He’s a self-aware hedonist intent on enjoying every minute of life, and his talent for deception has served him well. Then President Kennedy is assassinated, and Guidry realises he knows too much. Conspiracy theories about JFK’s assassination abound, but in November Road, Marcello planned and arranged the shooting, then set about erasing anything or anyone that might link him to the crime (and there is support for this version of events). Which is bad news for Frank Guidry, who suspects he’s next on the list, leaving him with two options: run, or die.
Charlotte is on the run, too—from a stultifying marriage to a hopeless drunk. A housewife from small town Oklahoma, she takes the brave decision to head west to California in the hope of making a better life for herself and her two young daughters. Guidry, like the manipulative narcissist he is, feels no compunction in using the little family to disguise and shield himself from the ruthless and unstoppable killer sent after him. But Charlotte is no ordinary housewife, and Guidry begins to appreciate her wit, intelligence and strength. November Road could be described as a road trip novel, even a romance of sorts—albeit a tense and suspenseful one, set as it is against a backdrop of mafia affiliations, political shenanigans, and psychopaths who own yachts and ranch houses, and have the means to make people disappear in horrifying ways. But it is much, much more than this. In his clever, stylish, atmospheric and immersive novel, Lou Berney explores the influence of the past on our future, the redemptive power of goodness, and the possibility of second chances. Masterfully written, beautifully filmic, this novel is a must-read for 2019.