Drive by James Sallis

Review published on July 28, 2015.

Drive is one of those books that packs a lot into a few short pages. Sallis’s taut, economical writing style adds a lot of pace and drama to what is a linear story about revenge, escape and redemption.

The lead character is called Driver, a man of few words, and even fewer possessions. The only real skill he has is what he can do behind the wheels of a car, as a driver, as a repairman, as a bank robber’s getaway driver, as a stunt driver and sometime actor on cheap, low budget films. When one of these jobs go wrong, Driver is left a loose end to be tidied up and disposed of. But he sees it in another way, it is a chance for him to avenge those who¬†betrayed him, and to avenge the death of his girlfriend, the only anchor in his world, which turned as quickly as jobs going wrong and demands not being met.

We can pretty much tell that the ending is not going to be a happy one, for either Driver, or the many secondary characters he meets. The world of get away drivers, film sets, and stunt car racing are well drawn, as is Driver’s essential loneliness, a result of both death and abandonment, but he deals with it in the best way that he can.

As both a character study, and as a thriller Drive works on all levels, and if you are after a thrill ride with enough noirish overtones, Drive, and the general work of James Sallis should be worth a look.

Ben Macnair

Drive by James Sallis is published in pbk by No Exit Press in 2011

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