November Road

by Lou Berney

Charlotte “Charlie” Roy and Frank Guidry should never have met.

Charlie, recently of Woodrow, OK, is running from her alcoholic husband, searching for somewhere she can be the photographer of her dreams “in a place where it wasn’t so hard to tell the past from the future.”

Frank Guidry is enjoying good times in New Orleans working for mob boss Carlos Marcello. He’s trying to shuffle a hungover stewardess out of his apartment when they catch the news of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on TV.

While she sobs her way into a cab, Frank realizes he’s in big trouble.

He delivered a sky-blue ’59 Cadillac Eldorado to a garage two blocks from Dealey Plaza in Dallas a week before the assassination. If Carlos, who hated the Kennedy brothers, had anything to do with the assassination, Frank is now a loose end. And Carlos doesn’t like loose ends.

Charlie and Frank cross paths in Santa Maria, NM, on Route 66. Charlie is headed for Los Angeles where she has an aunt. She fails to make an icy curve on the road and lands in a ditch. Frank is running from one of Carlos’s most lethal and focused assassins. He’s headed for Las Vegas where one of Carlos’ rivals may be able to help him. They happen to check into the same motel.

Always one to figure the angles, Frank (posing as insurance salesman Frank Wainwright) convinces Charlie to go with him to Las Vegas. He promises to replace her car or help her on to Los Angeles.

Traveling with a woman and two children, Frank figures, will be great cover. Charlie cautiously agrees. Her children, Rosemary, 7, and Joan, 8, accept Frank warmly because he’s charming, attentive and a good listener.

There’s just one thing Frank didn’t count on: falling in love with Charlie.

Thus begins an off-beat romance that can never end happily ever after.

Author Lou Berney has a gift for creating engaging, heart-touching characters. Here, he’s created a story that keeps you in suspense about what happens to all of these wonderful characters. When Berney brings the story to its end, it’s sad — and glows with love, courage, chivalry and sacrifice.

November Road won a well-deserved Anthony Award for Best Novel in November 2019 at Bouchercon. It also was listed among Notable Selections in an article on on the 10 best crime novels of the last decade.

About the Author: Lou Berney (1964 – )

Lou Berney is the author is the author of four novels, including The Long and Faraway Gone (2015), which won Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Macavity and ALA awards, and November Road, which was named a Washington Post Best Book of 2018. He also wrote Whiplash River, Gutshot Straight and a collection of stories, The Road to Bobby Joe.

Raised in Oklahoma City, he went to Loyola University in New Orleans and then attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At the age of 24, he sent a short story to the New Yorker, which published it. Editor Corlies “Cork” Smith signed him to a book contract to do a collection of stories called The Road to Bobby Joe, which was published before he finished his master of fine arts degree.

It was 19 years before his next book was published.  He met with rejection after rejection until he finally gave up writing books to teach creative writing in San Francisco. He wrote some movie scripts, only one of which got made.

He and his wife Christine returned to Oklahoma City in 2001 to help care for his father who had Alzheimer’s. He started Gutshot Straight as an escape from his father’s situation. The book is about a poker-playing getaway driver.  Whiplash River is the sequel. The two books won him comparisons to writers Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, if not large audiences.

The Long and Faraway Gone won a warmer reception that encouraged him. It helped show that he could write novels that reflect book the crime genre and more literary approaches.

He and his wife stayed in Oklahoma City even after both of Berney’s parents died.

He teaches in the Master of Fine Art Program at Oklahoma City University.



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