Monday, June 13, 2011

Gone Til' November: A Novel / by Wallace Stroby

New Jersey native Wallace Stroby's life shares much in common with that of notorious HBO villain Tony Soprano, or more accurately, that of the actor who plays him, James Gandolfini. It's one reason why many of his books cover themes associated with the infamous TV capo and those within the criminal element who are like him. Born in Long Branch, a town along the Jersey Shore, Stroby grew familiar with many of the archetype ruffians represented in his thrillers right up until he graduated from Rutgers (Gandolfini's alma mater). From there he worked as a reporter and editor for the Newark based Star-Ledger newspaper, a publication covering the greater part of New Jersey, until his novels broke it big in the mid-2000's. 2010's Gone Til' November is about a New Jersey contract killer who travels to Florida only to be confronted by sheriff's deputy Sara Cross, a cop and woman with her own problems.

Hopedale, FL sheriff's deputy Sara Cross' has a lot of problems. She's divorced to a deadbeat who won't pay his alimony, she gets migraines frequently, she's prone to bad relationships--she still has issues about her ex-boyfriend, also a sheriff's deputy on the same force--and her 6-year-old son's got leukemia. Still, Sara's never been one to back down from a confrontation, especially if it involves a questionable situation like the one her current case involves. Having stumbled onto the scene of a roadside shooting in an isolated, swampy portion of town, Sara immediately senses something's not quite right. She finds Billy Flynn (her former partner and ex) just after he's shot a twenty-two-year-old black man during a routine traffic stop. He claims it was self-defense, initiated when an altercation broke out after Billy asked to see inside the trunk which, upon examination, does contain a hefty assortment of illegal firearms. But Sara isn't so sure about Billy's story and her policing instincts instantly start to perk up as she begins investigating.

Meanwhile, New Jersey crime boss Mikey-Mike has a major drug deal about to go through down in Florida and doesn't want anything funny to happen. So he sends his man Morgan, an over-the-hill contract killer looking for one last paycheck, to "seal the deal". But even though Morgan's been there and done that all before, his instincts aren't as sharp as they once were, he's not as sharp, especially when he crosses paths with a snakey Sheriff's deputy who might be on to him. Stroby is a first-rate crime writer and this is another quality novel. Without revealing too much and never selling the plot short, the author weaves the story around characters who know the score and the stakes but, like the reader, seldom know what's about to hit them. Sara and Morgan as the two protagonists are both characters with a keen sense of when their luck will run out and yet they can't help track down the truth, even to their ultimate peril. In fact, they seem almost a perfect match, their mutually flawed character made bare and their numerous weakness exposed during every encounter. At no time is their an issue with whether their personal lives affect their professional choices because, as Stroby so brilliantly portrays, they always do. (MYS STROBY)

No comments: