November Road by Lou Berney [8/10]

Heaven for a mystery buff is a treat like “November Road,” the fourth book from Oklahoman Lou Berney. He puts three memorable characters on the road from New Orleans to Las Vegas in the weeks after JFK’s assassination: a loyal Mafia gangster fleeing a mop-up operation; the hit man sent to track hm down (who chillingly reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s Chigurh); and a housewife fleeing her husband with two young daughters. In time-honored noir fashion, we know nothing good’s going to come out of the journey unless supreme sacrifices are made. Berney slaps us fully into the three lives and knits the crackerjack plot together with a sure hand and measured pace. I felt dread on my shoulders from the very first page. The writing is first rate: never verbose but gently comprehensive, with lovely phrasing and forward momentum. One of the standouts of 2018.

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