Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: "The Driver" by Hart Hanson

When I saw that Hart Hanson, creator of the television show Bones, had written a thriller, I jumped on it pretty quickly. And while there are certainly similarities between the show and the book, particularly the smart-ass banter between the characters, The Driver is a rip-roaring, complex, humorous, and satisfying thrill ride, with some fantastically memorable characters.

Michael Skellig is a limo driver, the owner of his own limousine company. A former Army Special Forces officer who has seen and done things he doesn't like to talk or think about, he hears voices on the wind of those he has killed in the past. But strangely, these voices don't mean him harm, they warn him of impending danger, and sometimes force him to wise up before something goes totally awry. Skellig's employees are all fellow veterans, each with their own set of issues to deal with, whether physical, emotional, or cultural.

"I don't know for absolute sure whether the voices I hear in the wind are supernatural or if they're just in my head. Do they tell me things I don't know or things I just don't know consciously? Are those voices my own guilty subconscious trying to tell me something and the only way to get my attention is to speak to me in the voices of those whose lives I've taken? Or do ghosts actually exist?"

Skellig has spent more than a day driving Bismarck Avila, a skateboard star-turned-business mogul, from place to place. While waiting for Avila to come out of a hotel, he is waiting with his car in an alley when the voice of one of his victims warns him that trouble is on the way. He rushes into the hotel and is able to thwart an attack on Avila's life, although in the process one of Avila's bodyguards is killed. And when Skellig wakes up in the hospital a few hours later, he finds himself the only suspect in the bodyguard's murder.

Being at the right and wrong place at the right and wrong time throws Skellig into the midst of Avila's problems, which further intensify around the time he blackmails Skellig into becoming his personal driver. People around Avila keep winding up dead, and Skellig is too curious and too noble just to let things unfold around him. And as the danger mounts for Skellig and his colleagues, it also causes friction in his relationships with his sometime-girlfriend (and attorney), Connie, and his friend and periodic nemesis, Detective Delilah Groopman, Connie's best friend, with whom Skellig has always been a bit infatuated.

The Driver is a wild ride which will make one hell of a movie. Hanson has created some complex characters whom I hope to see more of, and as you might imagine, he has a knack for memorable dialogue and some pretty fantastic action scenes. He throws in some gimmicks as well which irritated me a little—in trying to describe how one character speaks, he writes many of the words this character says In Capital Letters, and another tends to talk in fragments, so. He writes. That way. (See what I mean?)

But those quirks aside, I really enjoyed this book and hope it's just the start of a long relationship with Skellig and his ragtag band of compatriots. This is a fun, cool read, and hopefully it marks the start of a fantastic writing career for Hanson.

NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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