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Drive Hardcover – September 1, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. I drive. That's what I do. All I do." So declares the enigmatic Driver in this masterfully convoluted neo-noir, which ranges from the dive bars and flyblown motels of Los Angeles to seedy strip malls dotting the Arizona desert. A stunt driver for movies, Driver finds more excitement as a wheelman during robberies, but when a heist goes sour, a contract is put on his head and his survival skills burn up the pavement. Author of the popular six-novel series set in New Orleans featuring detective Lew Griffin (The Long-Legged Fly, etc.) and such stand-alone crime novels as Cypress Grove, Sallis won't disappoint fans who enjoy his usual quirky literary stylings. Reading a crime paperback, Driver covers "a few more lines till he fetched up on the word desuetude. What the hell kind of word was that?" Lines such as "Time went by, which is what time does, what it is" provide the perfect existential touch. In this short novel, expanded from his story in Dennis McMillan's monumental anthology Measures of Poison, Sallis gives us his most tightly written mystery to date, worthy of comparison to the compact, exciting oeuvre of French noir giant Jean-Patrick Manchette.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

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.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590581814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590581810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been thinking about this book a bit lately and I've put off reviewing the book for a week because I wanted some time to collect my thoughts. First of all, most people who know me know how much I love the old hard-boiled and noir novels. But modern noir has been a little off putting for me simply because I never feel they can get the tone and style right and for the most part, they don't. Now when I think of James Sallis' Drive, I don't think this at all. To put it simply, I love and adore the way he went about writing this book.

Drive tells the story of a man simply known throughout the book as Driver; a stunt driver for Hollywood and a getaway driver on the side. This book is so non-linear that I do worry if I tell more about the story I might be giving away something that should be discovered by reading this book. This is a short novel that is jammed pack full of a fantastic noir story that could hold its own against Noir greats like The Postman Always Rings Twice or The Killer Inside Me.

There was so much to like about this book but there were also some things that really bugged me as well. Driver is a mysterious protagonist but I felt he talked far too much for something that would have been more suited as the strong silent type. I'm not sure if he was supposed to be written that way but for me, the impression I received from the character and whenever he spoke, didn't seem to fit my image of him. There has been a recent movie made about this book and I'm keen to see it but I have a feeling there will be a huge difference between the book and movie. I can see a linear story (which I'm ok with) but I can also see them doing the Hollywood thing and try to make a romantic connection between Driver and one of the women from this book. All in all, this book is well worth reading and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Driven.(less)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I saw the film before the book, guilty as charged. The film was majestically dark, elegantly offbeat, with beautiful cinematography and it had the best soundtrack of 2012. The only thing the movie has in common with the book are the name of the characters, a line of dialogue in the beginning of the book, an action sequence in the motel where the chick from AMC's Madmen dies, and the ending of the book; that's not a spoiler by any means, that's just something that fans of the movie should know right upfront. Driver (the character's "name") in this novel isn't the quiet, cool guy that Gosling played in the film; this Driver is talkative, witty, smart, sometimes even obnoxious. I actually prefer the Gosling counterpart, but that's me.

Okay, so now let me talk about the book without comparing it to the movie. I think James Sallis was going for a Godfather-esque, noir story, but the plot was just so simplistic that the author had to scramble the scenes around like eggs; it wasn't necessarily hard to know if a scene took place in the past or present or future, but at the same, it wasn't necessary either. In fact, the first chapter in this novel was repeated in another chapter later on--word for word (or at least, almost word for word--because the narrative was repeating what had already happened in the beginning).

I think Sallis tries to write like McCarthy, but he ends up sounding amateurish. He tends to miss words in sentences; for instance: Instead of, "The dog ran into the street to fetch the ball," Sallis would write, "Dog ran into street to fetch ball"--some of that works, but Sallis overuses this writing method to shorten sentences . . . it was almost as if he was trying to get below a certain word count, so he deleted a lot of words.
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Format: Hardcover
A few paragraphs in and you can smell the musty 40s. Gooseneck lamps, gently rounded cars, double-breasted suits. Everyone smoked. Everyone drank. Everyone ate steak.

But it's the modern day in LA. Driver leaves his foster home at 16. Makes it to L.A. Becomes a stunt driver. Along the way he develops a sideline of driving getaway cars.

A robbery goes wrong. Driver escapes with the loot and a woman robber. Someone tries to kill Driver: doesn't succeed, but takes out the woman.

Driver is a gentle soul. I drive, that's all is his ethic. But someone wants more and Driver doesn't like anyone on his trail.

Sallis is a master of noir. In 158 pages, he bangs out a complete morality play in which there is no good, no bad: just is, just what is there. Driver doesn't have a past or a future. Just a moment that demands certain things be done. Rootless, but not souless, Sallis paints his portrait in subtle strokes, all the more telling for that.

Sallis dedicates this work to Ed McBain, Donald Westlake and Larry Block, three great American writers. Sallis is, in my opinion, matched only by Block. McBain was great, but Sallis is better at noir.

"Drive" is a pleasant escape into a different reality, a true gem.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every word counts in this "sunshine noir" by noted mystery writer James Sallis. Drive is that rare thing, the proverbial novel you cannot put down. Yet, Sallis never cheats by loading up on worn plot devices. Instead, this slim volume pares the story down to its barest essestials, just plot and character, stripped of artifice. And drive. Yes, the story hurtles along, moving fast, but always under control. Do you think you have seen it all with noir? If you think so, then you owe it to yourself to pick up Drive. Sallis uses some familiar devices, but the story he tells and the character he tells it through, the "Driver," are new. Drive will keep you hanging until the last sentence. That's drive enough for anyone.
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