I, like every other living Baby Boomer on earth, remember exactly where I was when I heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. The Warren Commission’s report, requested by President Lyndon Johnson, did very little to squelch the various conspiracy theories that arose almost immediately. Many people simply didn’t (and don’t) believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, at least not acting alone. This reviewer is staying silent. But author Lou Berney expressed his opinion, at least as far as his novel November Road goes.
The book’s protagonist Frank Guidry is a lieutenant in the New Orleans mob, answering to mob boss Carlos Marcello. As soon as he hears of the assassination, he realizes Kennedy’s murder was orchestrated by Marcello, and that he unknowingly played a role, though he didn’t know it at the time. Almost immediately, everyone involved in the assassination is being killed one at a time. No witnesses, no fear of being caught.
Guidry immediately begins running from the mob. He knows all their tricks, but he has friends of his own. Still, it’s the mob. As he makes his way to a friend that he thinks will help him, he comes across a car that is broken down on the side of the road carrying a woman and two children He realizes traveling with a woman and kids would be perfect cover.
Meanwhile, housewife Charlotte is living an unhappy life with her kind but alcoholic husband and two kids. She decides to make the big escape on Thanksgiving night as her husband is passed out. The three take the car and head towards LA, where Charlotte’s aunt lives. Their plans are thwarted when their car breaks down along the side of the road. They are rescued by a kind man. As for Frank, he lies completely about who he is and where he’s going.
But it isn’t long before Frank realizes that he actually does care about Charlotte and the kids, and that isn’t part of his plans at all.
Berney develops the story and the personalities of the main characters deliciously. This isn’t a love story, though love is involved. It’s the story of loyalty and greed and the need for love, told in such a way that this reader couldn’t put down the book. Reliving those days of confusion and fear following the assassination was scary, reminding me about that time when the unbelievable actually happened.