"Gone 'Til November" by Wallace Stroby: Book Review

"Gone 'Til November" by Wallace Stroby
Minotaur, 294 pp., $24.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James

For those who favor a lean, tautly written police procedural-- with an accent on firearms and plenty of them-- then Wallace Stroby's third novel will come as something in which to revel.

Actually, the "bad guys" are as much in evidence as "the good guys" herein, to employ the parlance of a recent vice-presidential candidate.

Stroby's plot centers on a large cash transaction between a drug lord in Newark, New Jersey (the author resides in that state), and a drug-dealing group (this one Haitian) in Welst Palm Beach, Florida.

That strand of story is wrapped around that of a suspicious shooting death involving a police officer in backwater St. Charles County, (mid-peninsula) Florida.

Although the author introduces members of that county's Sheriff Office, as well as the head guy himself (a Vietnam vet originally from Mississippi), including a romance-gone-sour (yet lingering, like an extended hangover) between officers Sara Cross and Billy Flynn, it's the action back on the streets of Newark, in the alleys between the boarded-up brownstones, that really grabs the reader's attention.

In that regard, Stroby swerves along the edges of pulp fiction, giving the reader pause and cause for supporting an aging (and sickly) hoodlum named, simply, Morgan, who's called upon to retrieve the missing cash from the druglords' botched transaction.

Morgan is not without his soft spots, his tender moments, which also induce the reader to root for this antihero.

Furthermore, the Sara/Billy relationship emerges as so onesided in his favor that the reader is compelled to question her emotional stability, as well as her rudimentary mental health. She's oh-so-by-the-book; however, does that mean she should be on the force in the first place? How many times must she allow him to cast her out and reel her back before she decides to tip over what passes for their love boat, then let the gators snack on him?

The author exhibits a talent for pacing his story and building its momentum. There's nary a dull moment herein, with the action abounding throughout, particularly when the story focuses on Morgan. Indeed, the reader leaves the novel wishing that it were the setup for a series built around that character.

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