It’s November of 1963, and all Frank Guidry knows is that he dropped off a Cadillac El Dorado in a parking garage in Dallas as a job. Days later, John F. Kennedy is assassinated. The hit man has fled the scene in the same car, from the same parking garage. 

Lou Berney’s historical fiction debut, November Road (William Morrow) focuses on a major event in history and one of the speculated theories about this tragedy. It is an engaging page-turner that weaves together the perspectives of different characters on their way across the country to second chances, while trying to survive everything and everyone coming after them.

Guidry has spent his life as a high-ranking member of Carlo Marcello’s mob in New Orleans. He is a well-dressed, womanizing man, who has no queries about ratting out a friend if it saves his own skin. Carlo is one of the most ruthless mob bosses around, and also happens to have a personal, longtime feud with the Kennedy family.

Guidry knows that people in this business are expendable, but he has always thought he was valuable to Carlo, until now. When he figures out that he knows too much about the assassination, his world is turned upside down by the realization that he is a loose end, and is no longer safe. He takes off to Las Vegas to seek help from an old friend.

On his way, Guidry comes across Charlotte and her two daughters, with a broken-down car. He learns that Charlotte has taken her girls away from their small-town home and alcoholic father in Oklahoma, with hopes of a better life in California. After he realizes that posing as an insurance agent and traveling with a family will lessen his chances of being found by Carlo and his men, he convinces them to ride with him to Las Vegas, where he assures them they will have a car to continue to California.

As they set off on their journey, Guidry learns that Charlotte is smart and endearing, and finds himself longing for something that he has never had before – a relationship and a family. Charlotte, initially unsure about Guidry, finds that he is kind and wonderful with her daughters.

Barone is sent by Carlo on a cat-and-mouse chase across the country to catch Guidry. Following Guidry through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and finally to Las Vegas, Barone has no problem leaving a trail of bodies behind him and taking care of business. He is used to handling the Marcello family messes, and sees this mission no differently. However, he finds more roadblocks than usual along the way, and becomes aware that Guidry is smarter and more creative than most of his pursuits.

As Barone closes in, Guidry realizes that he has selfishly brought three innocent people, Charlotte and her two daughters, into danger, and he needs to make a choice.

Lou Berney has crafted a story that is powerful and shows great knowledge, articulation, and intensity. Berney’s previous novel, The Long and Faraway Gone, received high praise and was considered one of the best crime novels in 2015. November Road follows suit, and is a must-read that is remembered long after its finish. 

November Road is now available to purchase.

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Lou Berney is the author of November Road (a Washington Post Best Book of 2018), The Long and Faraway Gone (winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Macavity, and ALA awards), Whiplash River, and Gutshot Straight,all from William Morrow. He’s also written a collection of stories, The Road to Bobby Joe, and his short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He teaches in the MFA program at Oklahoma City University.