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The Driver


The Driver

You know the work of Hart Hanson even if you have not read his debut novel. Hanson is the creator of “Bones,” the crime procedural (and occasionally comedic) drama that was a staple of network television for 12 years and probably could have run for another 12. THE DRIVER has some of the elements of “Bones” --- complicated romantic attraction, occasional humor, smart dialogue and tons of action --- but is very much its own story. The genesis for the book apparently was the result of Hanson being stuck in traffic in Los Angeles and realizing that each of his fellow drivers has a story.

The driver of the title has plenty of stories indeed, including an extremely interesting backstory. Michael Skellig is a retired Army Special Forces sergeant who, now back in the world known as Los Angeles, owns Oasis Limo, a struggling three-vehicle limousine company. His staff includes three veterans who are damaged in tragic but unique ways, and his Afghan interpreter (who goes by the name “Lucky”) interprets far more than words. Skellig also has a somewhat unique alarm system consisting of the voices of people he has killed in combat and otherwise. Whether these are real or the sum of his imagination and a highly developed perceptive skill set is a question that is not answered in THE DRIVER and probably never will be.

"Skellig’s personal and professional lives are complex and entertaining, and there are more than a few twists and turns for him to negotiate before he reaches his destination at the story’s conclusion."

We first encounter one of these voices when we meet Skellig, who is waiting for a client, a somewhat obnoxious skateboarding superstar named Bismarck Avila. Thanks to the warning from the disembodied voice, Skellig is able to rescue Avila, even though one of the skateboarder’s bodyguards is killed in the melee. Skellig is initially considered a person of interest in the crime, but is in the clear after Avila agrees to help him on the condition that Skellig become his full-time personal chauffeur. As Skellig discovers, this involves much more than driving. Avila has a number of people angry at him, including a very crooked cop, federal law enforcement, and whoever hired the original assassins who botched the job. Everyone seems to want some barrels, or their contents, which Avila denies having. However, there are layers to Avila that are slowly revealed as Skellig undertakes his job of getting him from Point A to Point B quickly and without getting killed, not necessarily in that order.

Skellig also has a somewhat complicated personal life. He has a relationship of sorts with his attorney while being attracted to her best friend, a police lieutenant who wants to put Avila away to advance her job, as well as having a nodding interest in an emergency room physician who knows both women. Skellig’s personal and professional lives are complex and entertaining, and there are more than a few twists and turns for him to negotiate before he reaches his destination at the story’s conclusion.

THE DRIVER is a straight novel --- it wasn’t dashed off from a potential screenplay --- and Hanson quickly finds Skellig’s first person, understated wise guy voice within the first page or so. He gives the reader a lot of background in this introductory title, so it may not be as streamlined as one might expect, but he never loses his way or lets the story falter. The last page left me full but wanting more of Skellig and company. Get on board the limo now.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 11, 2017

The Driver
by Hart Hanson

  • Publication Date: August 8, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton
  • ISBN-10: 1101986360
  • ISBN-13: 9781101986363