Review: Gone ’til November by Wallace Stroby

The two protagonists in Gone ’til November are survivors.

In small-town Florida, Deputy Sara Cross, despite making just about every wrong decision imaginable when it comes to her love life, is an absolute fighter when it comes to her cancer-stricken six-year-old son, Danny.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, over-the-hill original gangsta Morgan is feeling every bit and more of his 57 years, most of which have been spent in the Life. He’s dealing with health problems, too–stomach tumors that are going to require intensive and expensive treatment.

Morgan’s current boss, drug lord Mikey-Mike, tries to open up a new supply channel by sending a driver with $350,000 and some guns down to a Haitian gang in Florida. Things go awry due to the interference of Sara’s fellow deputy and former lover, Billy Flynn, and the stage is set. Can either or both of these survivors survive this one?

Both Sara and Morgan are terrific characters. Sara’s shortcomings are frustrating, but all too human–we all know people who make the same sorts of mistakes she does, and we may even be one of those people. Morgan may do whatever it takes to survive, but he knows that what he does is evil and takes no joy in it.

Stroby sketches these characters, and many of the supporting players, with quick but subtle strokes–a song choice here, a photo on a shelf there–that give them depth without slowing the story down for a second.

This is crucial–all the great characters in the world can’t salvage a book with a poor story. Fortunately, Gone ’til November‘s story simply hums. I knocked out the first two acts in one sitting and could very well have finished it in that sitting had I not made a conscious decision to save some for later.

An excellent third novel from Wallace Stroby, which could make a great movie and may well someday. I’m looking forward to picking up his first two.

Note: Wallace Stroby is a great friend of this site. He’s a big Parker fan and has hooked me up with some sweet cover scans (not all posted yet, shamefully) and he is also the one who caught the error in the Mysterious Press and University of Chicago printings of The Man With the Getaway Face, for which we owe him a hearty thanks. That has not influenced this review. Ask my brother the musician how much a personal relationship influences my reviews. ;)

A very good book named after a very good song. Check it out.