Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Books: Driven by James Sallis

DrivenDriven by James Sallis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 2004, James Sallis wrote the short novel Drive, which I think is one of the most perfect pieces of crime fiction ever written. It had everything: plot, characterization, action and style. Shorn of everything ornamental, it was unstoppable and I thought would be the only of its kind. But after that story was surprisingly made into a movie, Sallis gives us a sequel - just as haunting, riveting and enigmatic as the first book. This no cash in, however, he is the master storyteller twisting multiple characters and plot lines like a strand of DNA helix. The challenge of the story is part of the pleasure, there are no kid gloves here and the melancholy sadness of the story reveals itself without a drop of sentimentality. The un-named Driver has come a long way since the first book. It's revealed that he became a successful businessman for a few years, but the past has a way of catching up with you, especially when you have left as many bodies behind as Driver has. Gunmen come for him and murder his girlfriend before he has the chance to dispatch them. And we're off on an extraordinary roller coaster ride that is a complex puzzle, an enigma: who tried to kill Driver? Who is sending men to chase him around the desert is his hopped up Ford? Sallis has a signature style that is all his own, characters drift in and out of the narrative focus with little or no warning. Scenes shift hypnotically with flashes of extraordinary violence. Like its predecessor, this book is under 200 pages, and every word is etched in stone like a master craftsman had chiseled a perfect statue from a block of granite. Challenging, harrowing and always thoughtful, this is a book that must be read.
Driven - amazon.com

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