(4.5 / 5)
In Hart Hanson’s The Driver, Michael Skellig is a military veteran, Army Special Forces sergeant to be specific, turned limo driver in Los Angeles. He wants a normal life but hears (hallucinates?) the voices of the people he’s killed. While waiting for a client, he hears those whispers as a warning and, not taking any chances, moves into action. The whispers are accurate. Skellig’s client is under attack. Skellig saves his client from death by knucklehead, but is shot in the process, and since one of his client’s bodyguards is murdered, Skellig also becomes the prime suspect, setting off the mystery of who tried to kill Skellig’s client, and why. To muddy things up, Skellig is romantically interested in, and has a history with, both the police officer investigating the case and the public defender trying to get him off. That twist is added difficulty because those two ladies are best friends.
The plot is not overly complicated, but it is enthralling. Twists and turns abound and Skellig narrates the story in a semi-stream-of-consciousness style, with plenty of asides to fill you in on important details, while keeping the humorous snark at a maximum. Once sucked in to the story, you have to keep you turning the pages all the way to the surprising end.
What Hart Hansen truly excels at is creating interesting, realistic, flawed, believable, damaged characters that you can’t help but feel for as they are all drawn into Skellig’s problems. The characters are varied and original, including an illegal Afgani interpreter who also is a driver, a double amputee who acts as artist and dispatcher, and an emotionally damaged mechanic. Skellig is the leader of this little company. I hope The Driver is the first of many novels to come by Hart Hanson.