November Road. Finished 10-22-19, 4.5/5 stars, thriller, 299 pages, pub. 2018
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. from Goodreads
I’m always intrigued by stories set around the Kennedy assassination and was excited to see this one available to review for its paperback release today. The killing of the President is the impetus, but the characters and their stories quickly take over. The chapters alternate between Guidry, a likable mobbed up man on the run, Charolotte, a woman who has been nowhere and is trapped in a bad marriage, and Barone, a fixer. As the three make their way from Texas westward I was completely hooked. The pages turned fast and I was sad to see it end. Guidry saw a future fraught with hope and Charlotte became her own woman by making one hard decision after another to get her and her daughters where she wanted to be. I loved her. The story was mainly Guidry’s and his arc was perfect.
I didn’t realize until I read the interview with the author at the end of the book that Carlos Marcello was a real New Orleans mob boss and that this is one possible way the author sees the Kennedy story playing out for real. Kennedy enthusiast or thriller fan, this is a winner.
If you still need convincing the blurb on the cover is from Stephen King, “When people say they want to read a really good novel. the kind you just can’t put down, this is the kind of book they mean.” I concur.