Fan Review: The Driver (No spoilers)

(Blog housekeeping: In a perfect world, where I had unlimited time and no need to sleep, I’d blog about every book I finish, every show I enjoy, every film I go see, and then, when bored, would make random observations about fandoms. Since we’re stuck with this world, but I do want to keep the blog going, I’ll be posting occasionally about…whatever catches my fancy. Read at your own risk.)

For many years now, the books I’ve looked forward to the most were the next installment in JD Robb’s In Death series, but that’s not quite been true in 2017. Since its upcoming publication was announced last fall, The Driver, by Bones showrunner Hart Hanson, has been the book I was most eagerly anticipating.

This is not solely due to Bones, but rather because I loved Backstrom and The Finder, and, for that matter, the Stargate SG:1 season one episode “The Nox,” which was also written by Hart way back in 1997-98.

Stories, regardless of medium, are about three things for me: tone, characters I can connect with, and relationships:

  • Tone: A mix of drama and humor works best. The humor doesn’t have to be over the top (lighter moments of comic relief are fine) and the drama can be anywhere on the spectrum, but for me to truly enjoy something, I need both.
  • Characters: Likable but flawed. There’s a continuum here, too, in that I don’t mind characters who are new to their journey of being their best selves as long as we see that potential early on. (I saw it with Backstrom, others apparently didn’t.)
  • Relationships: Those characters have to care about other people and/or have other people who care about them, or be working toward that.  Complicated is fine, new is fine, biological, non-biological, romantic, platonic…it’s all good, as long as it’s there.

In other words, Hart’s shows have always given me everything I enjoy the most in stories, so I was definitely looking forward to his first novel. This is particularly true given that as a rule, I prefer novels to film, anyway.

(One thing I find fascinating is that while I like his stories, quite often the shows and books Hart enjoys (based on comments on Twitter), don’t work for me.  I find this a bit baffling.)

Anyway, getting back to The Driver...having anticipated the book for months, I was not disappointed.

Michael Skellig is a wise-cracking vet/limo driver who hires other vets (and his former Afghan interpreter) for his limo company. Broken in different ways and to various degrees, they’re His People, and that alone is enough to have me falling a little bit in love with him.

And if that weren’t enough, Skellig speaks Snark – my native language – fluently. Seriously, how can I not love that?

Another thing that worked particularly well for me is that the book is written in first person, but not in a style I’m used to.  Last weekend, I finished the latest in a long-running cozy mystery series, and was thinking that first person should be the most intimate voice to read, because – in theory – it’s as if the main character is sitting next to you, telling you a story. Authors seldom seem to capitalize on that, though (or maybe I’m just reading the wrong first person stories) but Hart does, and I was delighted by Skellig’s asides. I have a friend who avoids first person altogether, so I can imagine readers who wouldn’t enjoy it, but for me, those comments upped my investment in what was going on even more.

For me, books fall into four categories: “Can’t put it down,” “I’m taking my time finishing it,” “Maybe I’ll get back to it some day,” and “I’m not going to make it to chapter four.” I finished The Driver in two days, while navigating a fairly complicated week on both the work front and the home front. (Who needs sleep? Seriously? Who needs it?) I was going to say that I’d read the sequel right now if it was available, but I’m afraid of jinxing things, so…I’m totally not saying that. Nope, not me. (Offers up a lament for stories that should have continued and didn’t.)

(Oh, and Bones fans? There’s a quote in there that’s nearly word for word something one of the main characters said on the show in season nine. Did you catch it?)





6 thoughts on “Fan Review: The Driver (No spoilers)

  1. Thanks for this review. Some of us are notoriously slow readers so it’s good that you can give us advance notice. So would you characterize the book as a murder mystery with colorful characters, or more about following the characters around? I guess I’m wondering: is it more about the case or the characters/world? Thanks!

    • Hmm. Interesting question. I think it’s more the latter, and would characterize it as a thriller/suspense, perhaps, rather than a murder mystery. There is a murder, but the focus is more on what happens as a result, and I think the environment, the characters, and their relationships are more important than clues to ‘who did it.’ Will be curious to hear if you agree with me!

  2. looking forward to the time this book and Kathy Reich’s new novel will be available at the library, but I may have to break down and buy this one before they make it into a movie.

  3. I preordered Harts book and started reading it right away. I loved his writing on Bones and figured this would be as good. You might try the “Andy Carpenter” series by David Rosenfelt. I download them from Audible, they are excellent. Just the right amount of snark and comedy.

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