Review: It was all over in minutes. He understood then what had delayed the second man's attack. Elsa lay against the wall of an abandoned cafe, blood pumping from the wound beneath her breast. She had been trying to smile up at him as the light went out of her eyes. Driver can only assume that someone, something from his past is responsible for Elsa's death, that he should be the one dead not her, and sets out to find out who is behind it all in Driven, a crime novel by James Sallis.
Driver — he is given no name in the book — enlists the aid of a couple of close associates to back him up, but he knows that this is a mission he must undertake on his own. The puzzle is, he's been living a quiet life as Paul West for the past several years, and can't imagine why whatever is happening is happening now. And to do what he needs to do, to learn why someone wants him dead, he needs a car.
Back when Driver was first discovering his gift, first realizing that cars and his life were inextricably intertwined, whenever things went wrong, with the family, one of the kids, or within the community, Jorge's abuela would say, "You've seen the tip of the wolf's ear." Over the years he's seen his share of ear tips, and of wolves.
The men who attack him come in pairs … and Driver always leaves alone. Yet this time, the man is alone but the outcome is the same.
So for the moment this was what it came down to, perched with a failed killer at world's edge in the middle of the night, thinking about convictions. Had he ever had any? And what kind of lies was he telling himself, to think he might somehow find a way through all this?
The storyline in Driven is complex, but told in a spare manner. Indeed, the book is not of novel length — it is under 150 pages — but it doesn't need to be any longer to accomplish what it sets out to do. There is very little introduction to the character here, though his biography, as it were, is revealed in short vignettes over the course of the book; thus it's possible readers unfamiliar with Driver from the previous book, or the film adaptation of it, may find themselves a bit lost at first as to who he is or what he does or why, even, someone might want to kill him. But that quickly becomes secondary as the crisply written narrative, and darkly descriptive settings for the action, consume the reader's attention. There seems little doubt that this fine sequel to Drive will also find its way onto the big screen.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided an ARC of Driven for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Driven: Phoenix, Arizona
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Driven by James Sallis
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: April 2012
List Price: $19.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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