"Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake. Later still, of course, there'd be no doubt. But for now Driver is, as they say, in the moment. And the moment includes this blood lapping toward him, the pressure of dawn's late light at windows and door, traffic sounds from the interstate nearby, the sound of someone weeping in the next room...."
Thus begins Drive by one of the nation's most respected and honored authors. Set mostly in Arizona and L.A., the story is, according to Sallis, "about a guy who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night. In classic noir fashion, he is double-crossed and, though never before has he participated in the violence (I drive. That's all.), he goes after the ones who double-crossed and tried to kill him."
I drive. That's what I do. All I do." So declares the enigmatic Driver in this masterfully convoluted neo-noir, which ranges from the dive bars and flyblown motels of Los Angeles to seedy strip malls dotting the Arizona desert. A stunt driver for movies, Driver finds more excitement as a wheelman during robberies, but when a heist goes sour, a contract is put on his head and his survival skills burn up the pavement. Author of the popular six-novel series set in New Orleans featuring detective Lew Griffin (The Long-Legged Fly, etc.) and such stand-alone crime novels as Cypress Grove, Sallis won't disappoint fans who enjoy his usual quirky literary stylings. Reading a crime paperback, Driver covers "a few more lines till he fetched up on the word desuetude. What the hell kind of word was that?" Lines such as "Time went by, which is what time does, what it is" provide the perfect existential touch. In this short novel, expanded from his story in Dennis McMillan's monumental anthology Measures of Poison, Sallis gives us his most tightly written mystery to date, worthy of comparison to the compact, exciting oeuvre of French noir giant Jean-Patrick Manchette.
Excellent, if brief, neo-noir
This is a brilliant book that really mastered the art of switching time periods (once you get used to it). Characters have logical motivations and are well developed. The story hooks you in pretty early but knows when to slow down and speed up again. It’s engaging throughout and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The action/violent sequences are written beautifully, giving clear and vivid imagery without getting creepy with it. Would recommend.
It’s short, sweet, and without filler. My new personal favorite book.