– Sara Cross
Late one night St. Charles County, Florida Deputy Sheriff Sara Cross is dispatched to the scene of a traffic stop gone wrong. Upon her arrival at the deserted rural location where the stop occurred Cross finds Deputy Billy Flynn, a dead suspect, and the suspect’s car trunk stuffed full of illegal weapons.
Flynn indicates that despite it being a routine traffic stop the suspect was acting inordinately nervous so he asked him to open the trunk. Instead the suspect fled, and when commanded to stop turned and pulled a gun on Flynn who shot in self-defense. Sounds believable, and the evidence at the scene backs up Flynn’s story, so Internal Affairs clears Flynn in the shooting.
Sara isn’t entirely convinced, however, and the arrival of the dead man’s widow in town issuing threats of retribution from the people in New Jersey her husband was working for does little to ease Sara’s concerns that there is more to the situation than initially met the eye.
Her suspicions are confirmed when thugs from Jersey show up looking not for what was found in the trunk… but for what wasn’t. Lead by old-timer and career criminal Morgan, the gangsters make their presence known in a very violent manner that quickly turns the small, backwoods town upside down.
Author Wallace Stroby skillfully moves the story forward through alternating looks at the dilemmas facing Sara and Morgan. Sara wants to believe Flynn, with whom she was previously romantically involved, and Stroby does a masterful job portraying the internal conflict Sara wrestles with between her lingering feelings for a man she once loved and her desire to do her job objectively and pursue the truth no matter where it leads her.
Where it leads her, slowly but surely, is into direct conflict with Morgan. Recently diagnosed with cancer and needing serious money to pay for the treatment, Morgan is on his self-declared last assignment. Determined to get to the objective before his fellow gangsters and leverage the job for his own benefit, Morgan is willing to do whatever it takes and go through whoever stands in his way in order to secure his last big score.
Gone ‘Til November is an intense character study that explores the devastating consequences a single poor decision can have, not just on the life of the one who makes it but on the lives of everyone around them. Stroby has taken a relatively straightforward crime story and developed it into a wonderfully nuanced look at the terrible choices people have to make when confronted with situations that challenge their moral compass, especially when the easiest choice would be to do nothing at all.
There’s no dilemma about what choice you should make though. If you enjoy well written crime fiction with realistic, engaging characters you need to get Gone ‘Til November.
Gone ‘Til November is available from Minotaur Books (ISBN: 978-0312673192).