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Gone 'til November by Wallace Stroby
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312560249
Date: 19 January 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Sara Cross is a single mother whose adorable six-year-old son, Danny, is battling leukemia. She's also one of the finest deputies in Hopedale, Florida, a small redneck, Confederate-flag-flying community. She arrives on the scene of a shooting where fellow deputy and ex-boyfriend, Billy Flynn, has shot to death a young black man, Derek Willis. Billy claims self defense; however, Sara's investigation forces her to believe otherwise. For example, who stole the 350 gees that were hidden in the trunk of Derek's car?

Nathaniel Morgan is a ruthless, over-the-hill contract killer for gangsta drug lord Mikey-Mike of Newark, New Jersey. Mikey-Mike sends him on a road trip to Hopedale to find his 350 gees. Morgan plans on keeping all the money; he'll kill anyone who tries to stop him, and that includes Haitian thugs, redneck deputies and Mikey-Mike's own henchmen. A bloodbath ensues. Morgan has rare intestinal cancer and needs the money for medical treatment. Dr. Kinzler insists he begin immediate treatment. But Morgan has to take a trip first; he'll be gone 'til November.

Gone 'Til November is the latest mystery from Wallace Stroby. It is not your classic whodunnit. In fact, the reader will probably guess early on who killed Derek Willis and why. Instead, Gone 'Til November is a violent, action-packed crime drama that is highly emotional. As I read this novel, I thought, "This man [Wallace Stroby] is a damn good writer. I'll never write as well." The novel's characterization is what impressed me. Stroby's characters are very three-dimensional and lifelike.

The novel's central character or protagonist is obviously the affable, hard working Sara Cross. She is very trusting, too trusting. She sometimes lets her heart override her judgment. I knew right away that her ex-boyfriend, Billy Flynn, was slime. Why couldn't she see that for herself? But it was Sara's struggles with Danny's illness that drew me to really like her. She truly loves her son.

Sara is surrounded by two evil antagonists. The first is obviously the racist Billy who couldn't be faithful to Sara. The other is Nathaniel Morgan; his character is the novel's most complex and, perhaps, intriguing. On one hand, he is ruthless. On the other, he has a soft heart for women in trouble, especially women with ill children. A part of me despised Morgan, but a part of me also admired him. All of his victims were lawless thugs and one might rationalize they deserved to die. Morgan becomes almost an antihero. I kept hoping he'd find the money in order to save himself.

Yes, Wallace Stroby has a gift for good character development. He also has a gift for creating unique settings such as the beautiful, peaceful Florida everglades which serves as a contrasting environment to that of the gritty slums and ghettoes of Newark, New Jersey. There are other contrasts and conflicts in this novel: they occur between races, between male and female deputies, and between good and bad deputies.

Gone 'Til November is a fast-paced thrill ride that is guaranteed to please fans of shoot-'em-up crime drama. Wallace Stroby has a penchant for creating mysteries centered around the seedier elements of New Jersey. He has written two other character driven novels: The Barbed-Wire Kiss and its sequel, The Heartbreak Lounge. Both feature former state trooper Harry Rane who gets involved with gangsters in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Hopefully, there will be a sequel to Gone 'Til November that will feature Sara Cross who, like Harry Rane, refuses to back down and give up.

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