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THE DRIVER by Hart Hanson: Book Review

The Driver is, in turn, comic, tragic, uplifting, profane, and suspenseful.  In short, it’s a wild and worthwhile ride, but it’s not your typical mystery novel.

The driver is Michael Skellig, who served in the Afghanistan war.  He’s returned to California, his home state, and opened a limo service, hiring three fellow veterans he met overseas.

The only woman at Oasis Limo Services is Tinkertoy, the company’s mechanic.  She suffers from post-traumatic stress paranoia, having been the victim of multiple rapes and unimaginable torture.  Ripple is the dispatcher, now using a wheelchair since he lost half of one leg to a sniper and all of his other leg to a vehicle that accidentally ran over him.  And Luqmann Qaid Yosufzai, nicknamed Lucky for obvious reasons, was the driver’s interpreter when Michael worked with the anti-Taliban forces.

Bismarck Avila is a world-famous skateboarder, winning the X Games at the age of fourteen.  The day that Avila hires Michael to drive him to a hotel for a meeting Michael foils an attempt on Avila’s life, and the impressed skateboarder employs Skellig to be his permanent driver.  Why would someone want to kill the young man, or at least threaten him so dramatically?  And, if Avila really doesn’t know why anyone would want to harm him, why is he so insistent on Michael becoming his new driver/bodyguard?

When Michael arrives at Avila’s mansion the following day, he’s met by a Los Angeles County Sheriff Department deputy, Detective Willeniec, who is brandishing a warrant to search the extensive grounds for barrels.  Willeniec doesn’t explain what he expects to find in the barrels, and, in fact, he discovers none on the huge property.

But he tells Skellig and Avila he’s not done with them, the warrant extending to several other properties the skateboarder owns, and Skellig, Avila, and Willeniec drive to one of Avila’s storage units.  The detective finds nothing there either, but he threateningly tells Avila he’s not finished with him yet.

The Driver is definitely a unique read.  The story is told in the first person, so we learn everything from Michael’s point of view.  He’s a kind, generous man who knows how to handle himself in tough situations, although he doesn’t go looking for them.  His love-life is torn between his involvement with his attorney, Connie Candide, and his desire for her best friend, Detective Delilah Groopman.  His life is complicated indeed.

Although this is his first novel, Hart Hanson’s literary output is impressive.  He’s the creator of Bones, which just finished its twelfth and final season on Fox television, as well as being the creator and script writer of several other shows.  It looks as if this book may be the first entry in a new direction for him, one that definitely will please the readers of The Driver.

You can read more Hart Hanson at various Internet websites.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.