Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stroby truly gets it right, January 25, 2010
This review is from: Gone 'til November (Hardcover)
Two of my all-time favorite novels are THE BARBED-WIRE KISS and THE HEARTBREAK LOUNGE. Both are written by Wallace Stroby, and both are crime novels as dark and gritty a walk on the wild side that you can get without dirtying your shoes. Stroby has been absent from the literary scene for a while but returns with GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER, a somewhat different work from his previous titles, but one that demonstrates that he has not lost one iota of the magic that made his first two books instant classics.

While THE BARBED-WIRE KISS and THE HEARTBREAK LOUNGE were set in North Central New Jersey, GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER utilizes a bit of a change of scenery and makes readers who are familiar with Stroby's prior works sit up and take notice. The new book opens in central Florida where a nighttime traffic stop on a deserted rural highway goes horribly wrong for Derrick Willis, a motorist from New Jersey with a cache of guns in his trunk. Deputy Sheriff Sara Cross responds to a call only to find that Billy Flynn, her former partner and lover, has shot Willis at the scene. The shooting appears to be justifiable given the gun in Willis's hand, and the matter is considered closed even as the officers investigating the case have some lingering doubts.

But Willis's death sets wheels in motion, not only among some heavy-hitting Haitian criminals in South Florida but also for a Newark drug dealer who is suddenly out a fortune in money --- which seems to have disappeared from Willis's car --- that he needs for his ever-increasing legal defenses. An enforcer named Morgan is dispatched to Florida to recover the money by any means necessary. Morgan, as we learn very quickly in the alternate opening chapters of GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER, is a product of the rough streets of Newark, who is capable of sudden and extreme violence and yet adheres to a rough moral code.

Morgan needs the money as well, and the double-cross that he believes his employer is about to pull on him dovetails with the one he is about to spring on both his employer and the Haitian gang. In the meantime, Cross is slowly moving into the middle of what is about to become a hellacious crossfire as she begins to realize that the man with whom she was once involved --- and still loves --- is in over his head as he becomes entrenched in what's going on. Violent dramas are played out as North Jersey comes to Central Florida, and several parties learn that violence, greed and death are the same no matter where you are.

Stroby truly gets it right. If you were a fan of "The Wire" and impressed with how accurately Baltimore was portrayed on that series, you will be doubly impressed with GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER, wherein Stroby, armed with words, captures the essence of the streets of Newark, come to call on the back roads of Florida. If you love noir crime fiction or good, solid literature in general and don't read this book, then you haven't kissed the prettiest girl on the block.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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