Soon to be a major Hollywood film, directed by Lawrence Kasden (Star Wars), this is one of the best novels written around the Kennedy Assassination.
Why read it? _One of the best fiction books of the year in any genre. Yes, it uses the structure of a crime thriller, a rather conventional one at that. However, this is a genuine, believable story of redemption – reminiscent somewhat of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It also has a heart crushing love-story at its center. Inspiring and profound.
CAPSULE REVIEW: President Kennedy has been shot and we know right from the start who did it, a Mafia kingpin crime boss. The boss’ shooter in the job has gone rouge, so he must hire another hit-man – high up on the psychopathy scale – to take down the original shooter – and then hire a third shooter to take out the second, who starts acting weird and ambivalent. There is a truly wicked femma fetale in the plot and a quite innocent mother. In the midst of all the twists and turns, red herrings and surprises – enough to satisfy any crime aficionado – one of the main characters undergoes a profound transformation. This transformation, however, occurs slowly in carefully graded increments, with many downturns and much doubt, so much so that we hardly notice what is occurring – until a truly astonishing ending that ties everything up, removes all doubt and reveals all secrets with complete verisimilitude. This can only be accomplished by a master craftsman in full control of his material – pacing, plot, dramatic tension and above all, characterization. I was genuinely taken aback by the ending and it took me a moment to catch my breath. When I did so, all the pieces finally fell into place and it all felt exactly right. This redemption, it goes without saying, was not in the least trite, mawkish or sentimental. It was accompliahed with such subtlety of characterization, and such nuanced insignt into the soul striggles of human beings, that it comes upon the reader unawares. Lovr really does triumph is this masterly told tale.
From the publisher’s blurb:
Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.
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.
Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.
Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.
Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.
And it might get them both killed.