four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
21-Mar-Apr-2006
By: 
James Sallis
user_rating: 
0

A-DriveA stunt driver for Hollywood films by day and a getaway driver by night, the aptly named Driver finds himself in a bind when a bank robbery goes wrong—another car, gunshots, a bag of dough that isn’t his. And somebody wants it back. Double-crossed, Driver lands in a sleazy Motel 6 just north of Phoenix with three blood-soaked corpses. Trouble is, he was supposed to die, too. To stay alive, he must embark on an unyielding quest for revenge—and remain outside the law.
Poisoned Pen Press. 158 pages. $19.95. ISBN: 1590581814

Entertainment Weekly 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Sallis’s riveting novella reads the way a Tarantino or Soderbergh neo-noir plays, artfully weaving through Driver’s haunted memory and fueled by confident storytelling and keen observations about moviemaking, low-life living, and, yes, driving. Short and not so sweet, Drive is one lean, mean, masterful machine." Jeff Jensen

NY Times Book Review 4.5 of 5 Stars
"James Sallis has written a perfect piece of noir fiction. … This master stylist uses a cinematic idiom of jump-cut, nonsequential scenes to focus on those hollowed-out moments when a man’s moral landscape suddenly shifts and he’s plunged into darkness." Marilyn Stasio

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"In his latest crime novel, James Sallis has combined the plot of a pulp novel from the ‘40s with the atmosphere of a French film noir into one stark and stunning tale. … For those who have not yet had to chance to read one of crime fiction’s most underappreciated writers, now is the perfect opportunity." David J. Montgomery

Knight Ridder Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Sallis remains a cult writer whose works may not have the same mass appeal of more commercial authors, but who is an infinitely more intelligent writer. … Sallis says all he needs to—and more—in just 158 pages." Oline H. Cogdill

Tampa Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Mesmerizing, amoral protagonists have peopled modern novels for some time, but refinement of such characters has taken on new dimensions. … Drive is a dark, poetic action tale that can’t help but draw comparison to noir books of the ‘40s and ‘50s." H. P. Albarelli

Critical Summary

Critics agree that James Sallis, author of the Lew Griffin mystery series, "may be one of the best mystery writers that most readers have never heard of" (Knight Ridder Tribune). In Drive, he combines murder, treachery, and payback in a sinister plot resembling 1940s pulp fiction and film noir. Told through a complex, cinematic narrative that weaves back and forth through time and place, the story explores Driver’s near-existential moral foundations while revisiting its root cause: his hardscrabble, troubled childhood. Dark and gripping, Drive packs a powerful punch.

Also by the Author

The Long-Legged Fly (1992): The first in the Lew Griffin series. Sallis chronicles four missing-persons cases in the career of black New Orleans detective Lew Griffin, each set in a different year: 1964, 1970, 1984, and 1990. There is no grand connection between the cases, but together they reveal much about Griffin’s character.