Friday, August 4, 2017

The Driver by Hart Hanson

Title: The Driver: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Hardcover; 336 pages
Publisher: Dutton (August 8, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1101986360
ISBN-13: 978-1101986363
Author's Website: n/a
Notes: I received an eARC from the publisher through Netgalley. Thank you.

Michael Skellig is a highly decorated war veteran. When he left the military he pursued a career in politics hoping to make a difference that would benefit injured and returning veterans. When he learned it would be years before anyone would reap the benefits of what he was doing, he quit politics, opened a limo service, and employed veterans who needed a hand up and not a hand out. To date he has three employees two of which are veterans. One is nicknamed Tinkertoy who is dealing with psychological issues among them PTSD and the other is Ripple, a double amputee dealing with the loss of his limbs and, subsequently, his wife. The third employee is an illegal immigrant whom Michael somehow managed to smuggled into the country from Afghanistan. All three depend on him and together have formed an unlikely bond for better or worse.

At first running a limo service seemed fairly simple and straightforward until one day, while waiting for a client, he heard trouble (literally and figuratively) whispering on the wind. When he goes to make sure his latest job isn't cut short by a killing, he stops an assassination attempt and, in doing so, gets caught in the middle of one deadly game. This is that story.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this one. A skateboarder hip-hop mogul? A limo driver? It seemed like a strange mix. Michael Skellig did not impress me all that much at first, but he sort of grew on me as the story progressed. He's a man who does what needs to be done and, unlike many, takes everything into account before acting.  He's also haunted by the ghosts of those he's killed so while he may have no regrets over what he's done, he's not totally unaffected either.

Bismarck Avila reminded me of a black rough and tough street punk version of Tony Hawk. I would have liked him to have had a little more depth to his character because I felt it would have enhanced and solidified the story more. He was portrayed as the stereotypical jerk who has more money than he knows what to do with who 'wants what he wants' and will do everything in his power to manipulate those around him to get it. While he held a major role in what was happening, he felt a little one dimensional to me.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and gave it 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was loaded with plenty of twists, turns, suspense, and drama. The main character was flawed but very likeable with his heart in the right place. The secondary characters were interesting and I look forward to getting to know them better and seeing them grow as the series--I'm assuming and hoping this is the first in a series--progresses. I have to confess, however, I would have liked to have seen this limo company be used as a sort of undercover capacity. Perhaps used to take down corrupt individuals/groups throughout the city? Possibly hired in a consultant type of manner to spy on subjects of interest? Since the employees are all former military with Michael having been part of a Special Ops unit I'm thinking he could have some mad skills in that area? I have a feeling, however, the author will make him into a hero/vigilante reminiscent of  the character Windsor Horne Lockwood III, aka "Win", from Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series. I guess we'll have to wait and see where this author will take this motley crew. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

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