Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Drive (at Amazon)
James Sallis

I picked up Drive in a Books-A-Million in Port Charlotte, Florida when I was really desperate for something to read. The first sentence sold me:

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.
That is a great sentence. It is very visual, you can imagine where he is, and it ends with a dryly ironic twist that made me want to find out more about Driver and his story.

Driver is a movie stunt driver and occasional getaway driver. All he does is drive
I don't take part, I don't know anyone, I don't carry weapons. I drive.
Then a job goes bad and Driver ends up holding the money. He doesn't want the money and would be happy to give it to the "right" bad guy. Unfortunately it isn't as easy as you might think and Driver is on the run, wanting to get rid of the money, and get back to his life.

The story moves around in time. The opening scene reads like the end but actually happens near the beginning of the book. Sallis does an excellent job of fitting in Driver's back-story amongst the action and while there might not have a linear flow to the story you don't mind.

The story of a job gone bad is entertaining enough but it is Sallis' style of writing that pulled me along. He writes in compact, well crafted sentences. In this he reminds me of Ken Bruen. Over on the Killer Year blog Sean Chercover wrote
What the rest of us need a page to say, Ken says in one sentence. One perfect little sentence that packs more emotional wallop than all the ham-fisted heaping of words upon words.
This is the way I feel about James Sallis.

Sallis is the author of the Lew Griffin private detective stories set in New Orleans.