TITLE: The Driver
AUTHOR: Hart Hanson
GENRE: Crime Fiction
PUBLISHED: 08 August 2017
PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon, Mobilism
Description: Michael Skellig is a limo driver waiting for his client in the alley behind an upscale hotel. He’s spent the past twenty-eight hours ferrying around Bismarck Avila, a celebrity skateboard mogul who isn’t going home any time soon. Suddenly the wind begins to speak to Skellig in the guttural accent of the Chechen torturer he shot through the eye in Yemen a decade ago: Troubletroubletrouble. Skellig has heard these warnings before—he’s an Army Special Forces sergeant whose limo company is staffed by a ragtag band of wounded veterans, including his Afghan interpreter—and he knows to listen carefully.
Skellig runs inside just in time to save Avila from two gunmen but too late for one of Avila’s bodyguards—and wakes up hours later in the hospital, the only person of interest in custody for the murder. Complicating matters further is the appearance of Detective Delilah Groopman of the LAPD, gorgeous and brash, for whom Skellig has always held a candle. As for Avila? He’s willing to help clear Skellig’s name under one peculiar condition: that Skellig become Avila’s personal chauffeur. A cushy gig for any driver, except for the fact that someone is clearly trying to kill Avila, and Skellig is literally the only person sitting between Avila and a bullet to the head.
Review: The Driver by Hart Hanson, creator of the TV show, Bones (Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs), is an odd mixture of suspense and darkly comic fiction -- with an emphasis on comic. First starting the book (I listened to the audio version narrated by Ari Fliakos) I thought I was going to be bored, the dialogue was wordy and drawn out like he was pulling out as many words from the thesaurus as he could (to be fair, apparently he attained a Ph.D. in Mathematics) for his main character Michael Skellig, who prefers just to be called Skellig. (The narrative is written in the first person.) As the narration and scene settings crisscrossed the California terrain I was wanting to continue and see what Hanson had done.
I found myself, after taking a SECOND go-around on the audio version, attempting to typecast the characters (envisioning who would play each character if given a screenplay treatment for the big screen). Seeing as Mr. Hanson made his name in Hollywood that imagining actually made this book a fun and ENJOYABLE delight cause I played this out as a movie in my mind. Skellig, an ex-soldier now a limo company owner/driver, came from privileged life, whose mother in the story is a state senator. His array of military background band of friends/employees: Tinkertoy, sergeant convoy mechanic and driver in the Army infantry, Ripple, Private Second Class (E-2) he lost his right leg from just above the knee and his left leg at the hip, and Lucky, Luqmaan Qadir Yosufzai, was his interpreter while he (Skellig) was in Afghanistan. With also a secondary cast of characters: Connie, Skellig's Lawyer and former love interest, "with occasional benefits" and Delilah Groopman, LAPD Detective, Connie's best friend this rounds out
Essentially being caught in the crossfire of an attempted hit on the client, Bismarck Avila, a skater/lifestyle business mogul, Skellig gets drawn into a game of modern-day cat & mouse with cops, lawyers, and other 'shady' people from Avila's past who, by all sorts, seem to be not bothered by anything at all (even the fact he could've died). This is an interesting approach cause even from any usual sense and having read a LOT of mysteries and for all I can remember, characters who survive an attempt on their life are scared out of their wits and just shy away from everything. Avila, who seems to bounce from being main cast to a secondary afterthought (cause remember, the focus and attention is on Skellig) but is still the main plot of the whole story as the past becomes his present is just "its all trivial, bruh." Hanson, I think, set out for the reader to hate Avila (my opinion) with his mantra and approach towards life (in honesty, I did hate him cause he didn't take anything seriously and had me like "UGH!, COME ON MAN! GIVE A DAMN FOR ONCE!").
The character interactions felt sincere, particularly between Skellig and his crew, possibly cause he set out in the world after he left the military to do some good for the veterans of the military through his lofty goal of working in DC. When that didn't work out, he became a limo driver and hired what some would call a mismatched band of employees. Towards the end of this book, I really felt a connection as the finale took place and punched me in the gut.