The Driver

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by Hart Hanson

Hart Hanson’s action-packed thriller opens with limousine driver and Special Forces veteran Michael Skellig foiling an assassination attempt on his client, skateboarding hip-hop mogul Avila Bismarck.

Skellig is tough.  As an emergency room doctor observes about him, he’s “been blown up, savaged by a dog, stabbed and shot three times.  And those are only the injuries visible to the naked eye. Your X-rays are a horror show.”

When Avila tells Skellig he wants to hire him, Skellig finds himself in a tight place. He doesn’t want to work for Avila, but what Avila’s bodyguards say about Skellig’s role in the foiled assassination attempt will mean the difference between being a person of interest with the police for a long, long time or coming out a hero.

As soon as he takes the job, Skellig realizes that Avila is a “person of interest” to a tribe of people ranging from a sadistic, crooked sheriff’s deputy to a psychotic criminal and his merry band of minions (which includes the two teen skateboarders who tried kill Avila in the first place).

Avila’s enemies quickly become Skellig’s and that puts his loyal team at Oasis Limo Services in danger as well.

One of the real pleasures of this book are the eccentric characters: Skellig; his employees Tinkertoy, Ripple and Lucky; the unrequited love of his life attorney Constanta “Connie” Candide; and her best friend, Los Angeles Police Detective Delilah Groopman, who is more than half in love with Skellig. These aren’t just whacky cartoons moving around on stage; they are fully drawn, complex characters that share the work in keeping the story moving at a rapid pace.

The characters speak with distinct voices and the bantering dialog is a joy to read.

Hanson, a resident of Los Angeles, also does an excellent job of drawing the various places where the story takes place. This includes an actual abandoned shopping mall that is taken over in the story by gangs of teenage skateboarders, bikers and runaways.

In the middle of the book, Delilah tells Skellig: “There’s two kinds of people. People who work on the surface of the earth and people who fly above us all and change history.”

Connie, she explains, is a high flyer. She worked her way up from nothing to earning a law degree while in the U.S. Navy to a career in prestigious Century City firm — and now is working on her political ambitions. Connie has already explained to Skellig that their relationship has no future; as a Latina woman with political ambitions, she can’t marry a gringo.

As Delilah explains it, “The flying people spend their lives fixing big problems, and to do that they mostly ignore, or never see, smaller problems, like the people around them or their families.  Then there’s the people who walk on the ground, take care of their families and the people they love, and let history take care of itself.”

Skellig and his team have seen more than their share of evil and cruelty, but they haven’t turned sour and cynical. Their love and loyalty to each other shine like candles in the dark. The story is hard-boiled and brutally violent in places, but the primary characters are all ones you’d want to meet and hang out with.

The Author: Hart Hanson (1957 – )

Hart Hanson was a television script writer in Canada before moving to Los Angeles.  Although born in the U.S., his family moved to Canada when he was a child. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and a master of fine arts degree from the University of British Columbia, where he taught briefly.

He worked on various TV programs before creating the series “Bones,” a crime procedural drama that aired from 2005 to 2017. Based on forensic anthropology and forensic archeology, each episode focuses on an FBI case file. It is loosely based on the fictional series by author Kathy Reichs. “Bones” was the longest-running, one-hour drama series produced by 20th Century Fox Television.
Married with two sons, Hanson lives with his wife in Venice, California.
The Driver is his first novel and was named by the New York Times as one of the best crime novels of 2017.


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