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Book Review by Julie: In the Company of Educated Men by Leonce Gaiter

by Julie Earhart-Cracchiolo

Back in 2005, I reviewed Leonce Gaiter’s Bourbon Street, a literary noir about the darker side of New Orleans’ most infamous street. Back then, I wrote of Gaiter’s debut novel, Oh that voice trumpets loud and long of a new talent surfacing in the literary world.”

Somewhere along the way, I missed a 2011 historical fiction novel that he wrote. Now, a decade after Bourbon Street, he’s back with a wonderful thriller that left me gasping—at one point I was so loud that I woke hubby up—in another room. There are so many twists and turns that I was breathless by the end of this quick-read.

Let’s start with the cover. It’s subtle. On first appearance, I thought I knew how this tale would unfold…boy was I wrong! I love to be wrong in areas like this. I’ve seen this abandoned/or almost abandoned gas station in many places across the United States.

I can’t talk too much about the plot…don’t want to give anything away and spoiler for other readers. It’s ultimately about a very long road trip and what happens to the three friends.

The story open with the Harvard graduation of three best friends: Lennie, Paul, and Louisa. Lennie is the alpha figure. Rich and in no need or hurry to find a job, he talks Paul and Louisa into an extended road trip. They head south and see poverty like they’ve never witnessed it. While disturbing, they move on. The trio winds itself back up and into Oklahoma where the novel explodes off the pages. I really can’t go any further. It’s too great of a ride to take the chance on spoiling it for anyone.

I can talk about the novel’s time frame. Graduation and ninety percent of the action takes place in 1980. Then the story jumps ten years with Lennie’s trying so hard to understand what happened, how it happened, and was he responsible. Then, in the last paragraph, it jumps thirty years.

I can talk about the writing and the voice. Gaiter has a gift. The action is ebbs and flows right on cue and explodes when the reader expects it. He paint wonderful pictures of the characters and the landscape. I felt as if I was in the car with the trio.

I would give this novel 10 stars if I could; I found it that good. 

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