The Driver by Hart Hanson

The Driver

Hart Hanson

From the creator of the hit Fox television show "Bones", a thrilling story with an unforgettable cast of characters and an engaging, wry first-person voice.

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From the creator of the TV show Bones comes a “riveting, smart and funny” (Harlan Coben) debut thriller. 

“Everything a great thriller should be—always smart, often funny, and relentlessly exciting. I loved every page.”—Scott Turow
 
Michael Skellig is a limo driver waiting for his client in the alley behind an upscale hotel. He’s spent the past twenty-eight hours ferrying around Bismarck Avila, a celebrity skateboard mogul who isn’t going home any time soon. Suddenly the wind begins to speak to Skellig in the guttural accent of the Chechen torturer he shot through the eye in Yemen a decade ago: Troubletroubletrouble. Skellig has heard these warnings before—he’s an Army Special Forces sergeant whose limo company is staffed by a ragtag band of wounded veterans, including his Afghan interpreter—and he knows to listen carefully.

Skellig runs inside just in time to save Avila from two gunmen but too late for one of Avila’s bodyguards—and wakes up hours later in the hospital, the only person of interest in custody for the murder. Complicating matters further is the appearance of Detective Delilah Groopman of the LAPD, gorgeous and brash, for whom Skellig has always held a candle. As for Avila? He’s willing to help clear Skellig’s name under one peculiar condition: that Skellig become Avila’s personal chauffeur. A cushy gig for any driver, except for the fact that someone is clearly trying to kill Avila, and Skellig is literally the only person sitting between Avila and a bullet to the head.

"It is so hard to be unique in crime fiction and Hart Hanson has done it big time with The Driver. It’s got all the ingredients: high risks, strong momentum, unseen turns and a set of gripping characters. You can’t ask for more!" --Michael Connelly
 
The Driver has it all—crisp dialogue, complex characters, and a plot that zips at breathtaking speed.”—Kathy Reichs
 
The Driver is grim, funny, violent, and moving—all on the same page.”—T. Jefferson Parker


Advance Galley Reviews

Did not care for the coarseness of the language and grammar. Just did not care about any of the characters as a result.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to read this book. I have very mixed feelings about this book. It is definitely a very unique book. I loved the writing, and I really like the characters. There is just something about this book that makes it a task to read it. I thought that the plot was excellent. This book has it all. It is full of action. It has a lot of great things. I just found it difficult to get through the book for some reason.

Good action, interesting cast of characters, but overall just an ok read for me. I took this book on vacation because I wanted a story that didn't require too much concentration and it did provide great action entertainment for the long drive. I got a little annoyed with the writing of the dialog exactly the way they talked, especially the spanglish. I would rate this 3 out of 5 stars.

If I had to use one word to describe this book it would be boredom. This book was very slow for my liking. The plotline intrigued me at the beginning but many times I wanted to dnf it. I found it very annoying the many times the author made it clear a character was hispanic by speaking Spanish and English.

Hallelujah! Quick witted, interesting, and intelligent writing from page one. From the start, the beautifully imperfect characters practically jumped off the pages! No slogging through fifty pages waiting to be drawn into this gem, it was immediate. Hanson knows how to paint complex pictures with few words, nailing them down and quickly moving on. The story centers around retired military veteran Michael Skellig and his troop of lovable misfits. I won't repeat what the book blurb states, only add that it is so refreshing to have a pragmatic, honorable, vulnerable, witty, and intelligent protagonist. Each character adds their own unique flavor to the story which includes mystery, thrills, romance, violence, and humor. Highly recommend this original extraordinarily crafted debut novel!

"..... through the glass darkly and down the rabbit hole ..." - sums this up perfectly Fiction at its humorous, sardonic, and oft-times crude, best. The lines between good and bad are certainly blurred - our hero is more anti-hero. The plot is peppered with acerbic humour (not to everyone's liking), a cast of misfit characters, action a-plenty, and the slightly disturbing narrative running through our hero's subconscious. Hanson drags the noir fiction of the golden years of crime up by the waistband of its saggy pants and plants its firmly into the 21st century. I would sit this tome alongside Caimh McDonnell's "A Man With One Of Those Faces", Mark Toscano's "Accused" and Bradley Spinelli's "The Painted Gun". Loved it!

Wow - This was a very well written story with many twists and turns. Written in different person format where there is lots of self reflecting going on. The plot is fresh and and quite frankly with many turns in the story you don't see coming. The author does a great job of developing complex characters that you become involved with. A must read for crime fiction readers.

I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review via First to Read. It is definitely full of twists and surprises written in a unique way. Thereis definitely a lot of action and it has an explosive and shocking end!

I received a free advance copy of this book in return for an unbiased and honest review. I selected this novel by Hart Hanson, because I Loved watching Bones. This book did not disappoint. It was well written and I couldn't put it down. The characters are very well developed and you either love them or you hate them. The plot line is fantastic and riveting. The attention to detail was incredible and it made you feel like you were in the story with the protagonist. I cannot wait for Hart Hanson's next novel.

This was an edge of your seat ride, literally and it kept me flipping pages. Great way to spend a few days this summer.

This book sounded so good but it was so slow and dragged on for me that I just have no drive to read The Driver so I am sorry but I am DNFing this book. It's just not for me and I don't like it.

I received a free advance copy of this book in return for an unbiased and honest review. This is a top notch thriller from the creator of "Bones". Although some situations are graphic and tough to read they're necessary to the plot line. Michael Skellig is owner of a limo company he's staffed with otherwise unemployable vets suffering severe PTSD. He's hired as a permanent driver for a young skateboard mogul who has unexpected negative circumstances continuously occurring around him. Although Skellig was hired only to drive he becomes involved when he and the staff of his limo service are threatened, the staff in a "very persuasive" manner. I had trouble putting the book down and wished I had more time to read every time I picked it up. If you love a good thriller this should definitely go on your reading list.

I received an advanced copy of this book free for an honest review. I have to say, I really struggled to get through this book! I selected it based on the blurb, thought, this is the kind of stuff I love, yet as I made myself read, I was more and more disenchanted as I continued. The book moved slowly, but since I promised to provide an honest review, I felt obligated to finish. The story is only good, although I was not disappointed with the thriller aspect. There was WAY to much detail which slowed the pace of the story, some of the dialogue felt very forced although the characters were entertaining, and well developed. Don't get me completely wrong, some of the parts had me laughing and gave me hope and the will to continue, but overall, I'm glad I was asked to evaluate this book before I purchased it, because it just didn't completely do it for me. I would give this book 3 stars, a nice place to start for this author, leaves plenty of room to grow!

I received a preview copy of the book The Driver, by Hart Hanson, in exchange for an honest review. This was a fast read because you really wanted to know what was going to happen next. I think the author covered every emotion by the end of the first couple chapters. If you liked the series bones, you will definitely like this book. My one criticism is that I have a hard time with books that have animal cruelty/death in them and this one does 3 times. I did get past that because the references were not drawn out and for the most part added to the storyline and the rest of the book was really, really done well. Hopefully we will see Michael Skellig back for more adventures. I could picture Samuel Jackson in one role and David Boreanaz as Michael, but I think they might be too old for the characters. I do recommend this book as a good read.

I kept putting off finishing The Driver. It sounded enjoyable when I put in for the arc but every time I tried read it I had to give up. It was soo very slow. I know an author has to paint a vivid picture of their scenes but this was bogged down with overdrawn details. Perhaps im too much of a minimalist for his writing. How many more times can he insert racial descriptions. I get it, you tried to be inclusive and I appreciate that but your average reader isn't your casting director. I don't need to know about a characters half-german, half-mexican gambler father who was killed and african-american stripper/escort mother who's a crackhead just so that character can walk in the room. Not even going to rant on his Spanglish speaking lawyer/fwb. Hart Hanson can develop a fair story with some tense action scenes, some jokes, some forced dialogue but that's better left to his shows. It didn't read well for me.

I very nearly didn't finish reading The Driver. About 60 pages in, I felt the dialogue was forced, the characters only mildly interesting, and the plot development less-than-gripping. With so many options vying for my leisure-time attention, I was ready to move on to something else. The book had started off well enough, though, so I decided to push through and see if things got any better. After finishing, I can honestly say I'm glad I persevered. The dialogue was still a little awkward in spots; the main character really isn't as funny or charming as he thinks. The series has potential, however, and I wouldn't be averse to reading what happens in the eventual sequel. The Driver didn't make me an instant fan of Hart Hanson's writing, but I've certainly read far worse debut novels.

Michael Skellig, who owns and operates Oasis Limo Service, is hired to drive a famous skateboarder, who just happens to have someone that wants him dead. Skellig maneuvers through situation after situation, helping his customer stay alive Overall, it's not a bad read, but not something I'd put in my favorite pile either. I'd give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

Michael Skellig, owner of Oasis Limo Service, started his business to help a couple of veterans with PTSD. Skellig understood their needs because he also fought his own demons. The other member of his team is an Afghan interpreter, who worked with Skellig when he was with Special Forces. While on a job driving for Bismarck Avila, a skateboarder who made it big, Avila was attacked. Now Avila wants Skellig to be his driver. As someone wants Avila dead, Skellig has to maneuver through it all, with rogue cops, a drug kingpin and his flunkies, murder and money laundering, to help Avila stay alive as well as himself and his crew. A thrilling read with fully developed characters and having all the loose threads neatly tied up in a very satisfying conclusion. Thank you First-To-Read for this free e-copy of "The Driver".

Rating: 3.75 Thanks to Penguin, I received an ARC for this book in exchange for an honest review. There were parts of this book that were quite predictable, however, I enjoyed it overall. It was a solid crime story with laugh out loud humor.

I was interested in Reading The Driver when I heard that Hart Hanson, director of Bones was the author. The main character Micheal Skellig drives a limousine for a living, a much different career for this ex military guy. Micheal is picking up a customer, and wakes up bloody, with his customer's bodyguard's down, and no witnesses around to speak for him. Avila asks Micheal to become his personal driver, in an effort to keep him close and to blackmail him. The problem is, everyone around Avila keeps ending up dead. I found some parts of the book to be funny, full of adventure, and unfortunately some parts just fell short for me.

First to Read has an option where you can guarantee you’ll get an ARC of the book by dishing out some of your accumulated points. I used that option for The Driver because I used to enjoy Bones, and I liked The Finder when it was on. On the one hand, I’m frustrated because I feel like I wasted points. On the other hand, I’m glad I did because I can now warn people off of this book. I actually considered not finishing it because I disliked it so much, but I wanted to write a coherent review without anyone accusing me of being “uninformed” because I didn’t finish it. So here we go. Buckle your seatbelts, kiddos. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. The Driver has a really slow beginning. I did notice that the pacing got better later in the novel, and although I didn’t like it any better than before, reading it went a lot more quickly. One of my largest problems with the novel is that you can tell Hart Hanson is used to writing television scripts. Especially at the beginning of the novel, it reads more like a screenplay, and throughout, the narrative is peppered with superfluous descriptions—in scripts, you have to tell so you can show on the screen, but in a novel, all you have to do is show. There were times when I felt like Hanson wanted me to sit down and draw out a roadmap of LA and the surrounding areas while he was driving. I’ve been to LA a few times for vacation, so many of this direction-giving was totally lost on me. I would glaze over while I read through them and hope I wasn’t missing anything important. There were paragraphs of this stuff. It was painful. My main problem, though, is just with Hart Hanson. Michael Skellig is not a likeable protagonist. He has all the makings of the antihero trope. That’s fine—I don’t need to like a main character to like the novel, and sometimes an unlikeable or reliable protagonist makes for a more interesting narrative. The key to that sort of novel being good, however, is that the author needs to be clear that the protagonist’s bad thoughts or actions are bad. There needs to be distance between the author and the main character, and I didn’t feel like there was here. Too many times I felt like Hanson would show me Skellig doing or saying or thinking something that would make my lip curl, and then immediately trying to get me to like him again. Skellig would objectify a woman or talk about how he wanted to get a woman into bed, but then Hanson would remind me that Skellig is madly in love with and wants to marry a woman who just wants to keep things casual, as if that was some sort of excuse. As if him lusting after women—one of them being her best friend—now was supposed to make sense. And he’s funny! Hanson would insist, a little desperately. He’s funny, so you can’t really dislike him if he’s funny, right? And I mean, he’s got a good heart, really, look how he takes care of these people… I felt, in short, like he was mansplaining. Skellig could be a really interesting character if Hanson wasn’t trying so hard to make sure that I liked him despite all of his character flaws. This book was also pretty horrible about women. I don’t mean that Skellig was horrible about women, because while he was, this is another instance of creating distance between the character and the author. Skellig being a misogynist and an asshole is one thing. Hanson trying to make me excuse him for it or Hanson just straight-up being those things himself are another. I guess because Skellig told the reader himself (multiple times) that he was an asshole, that was supposed to make up for it because he was self-aware? I really don’t know the logic, here, but the way that Skellig treats women is gross, and Hanson’s apparent acceptance of it—and his earnest desire to make me accept it—made me angry. I could honestly rant about the ridiculousness of the treatment of women in this book for ages. Also, I was forty-five pages in, and the word “rape” had already occurred three or four separate times. And how could I possibly forget the line, “Her voice was sexy but exasperated.” What. Even. The tense changes a lot, too. Sometimes in the middle of chapters. But I think that’s something that’ll get fixed last. Maybe they were still trying to decide which tense to use? Or maybe his editor just turned a blind eye to that, like they did to so many of this book’s other flaws, because Hart Hanson is famous and, like so many famous people before him who cannot and should not write books, got a book deal because of it. God! There’s more. Can you believe that there’s more? I could keep going, but I think the final thing I’m going to end on is how Hanson randomly inserts Spanish words and phrases to remind us that Connie is Mexican. It’s ridiculous, and it feels cheap. But don’t worry, he totally fixes it at the end by having Skellig’s mother (who can’t stand Connie) call Connie out for doing it. It read as if an editor pointed out to him that this was really annoying for readers and a big no-no and, instead of fixing it, he tacked this on at the end so he could wipe his hands and say, “Yep! Fixed it.” I have to give Hanson credit, though. He avoided that one trap that so many authors fall prey to when they’re trying to make it clear that their novel is For Adults. I didn’t see the word “nipple” once. Get rekt, Hart Hanson.

I received a advanced copy of this book for free for my honest review. Not your typical crime thriller novel. This book was a little slow going but once it got going it was a very delightful read. Hart Hanson had the right formula.

A fast-paced page turner that kept me glued to the story. Michael Skellig is a veteran who owns a private car service and drives one of its limos. He ends up involved in deadly shooting after someone tries to murder his client and things go downhill fast into some very complicated territory from then on out. Hanson's characters are all a little off, but they have their very valid reasons. I loved that he made all the employees at Oasis be former military and Skellig's motives for that are both noble and narrow minded, but he makes his own family and they work great together. It definitely brings the importance of taking care of veterans to mind without hitting you over the head with it. The only person I never really liked was the main love interest, Connie. She's awful and I hated how she kept inserting random Spanish into the conversation. I kept being taken out of the story to wonder what a reader who doesn't speak it is supposed to do to follow the story. Overall, the enjoyment definitely outweighs the little annoyances and this remains an entertaining read that I highly recommend if you want some smart yet breezy reading.

The Driver is a dark, entertaining, and fast-paced thrill ride from beginning to end. I hope this is the beginning of a new crime series. Everything a thriller should be... highly recommend!

There are parts of the story that are very cliche and other parts of the story I couldn't stop reading. I think this book has the potential to be a fantastic book with a better editor. I give it 3.0/5.0.

Here we have another returned military vet, honored, with mildly controlled PTSD, working with fellow vets, equally re-arranged physically and psychically by their service, in a limousine business that he owns. Our driver/owner, Skellig, has many amazing skills that are revealed throughout the book, slyly, in a way that enhances the tale while entertaining. One of his better (weirder) leftover bits of war is that he hears helpful hints, in the voices of men he has killed, right before an ambush. It repeatedly comes in handy. The story here meanders delightfully. There's never a dull moment in the book although at times the disparate parts don't seem connected. In the end everything gets nicely wrapped up. I would easily read another book about Skellig and his crew. The book is really great. I got my copy from Penguin's First to Read Program and feel pretty lucky about it.

What a fast paced book! I couldn't put it down. The way that Skellig thinks and talks had me laughing when I probably shouldn't have and shaking my head at other times. Towards the end I cried for Ripple. While it's a great novel, it also reminds us of the plight of returning servicemen and women. I would recommend this book (but not for those faint of heart). Thanks First to Read for my advance copy!

When I saw that this story was written by Hart Hanson (the great mind behind BONES) I was so excited to see how it would turn out. I was not disappointed. Michael is so much more than the driver and following this engaging journey brought laugh out loud/gasp out loud moments around so many unexpected corners. An interesting cast of characters and a huge, crime mystery unfolding bit by bit with every page. I recommend if you're looking fora book that will suck you in to discover how everything fits together.

"This was nothing more or less then an elemental tussle of wills between a street rat and an ex-con, even if the street rat was dressed up as a lifestyle mogul and the criminal was dressed like a Latvian schoolteacher's fantasy of a Navajo mountain surfer cowboy." This author is a TV writer and he has a way with dialogue, quirky characters with cute nicknames, action scenes and unbelievable storylines. I could see this book as a movie, or even a TV series with the core group of characters getting involved in another zany adventure each week. My favorite character was Bismarck Avila, a skateboarding hip-hop mogul. However the main group was comprised of Michael Skellig (no nickname) the owner of a limo service and his employees Ripple, Lucky and Tinkertoy. Skellig winds up being the driver for Avila and that puts him at the center of a series of criminal and violent situations. The book generally had a jokey tone, although at the end it became very violent. Everyone in it is a wiseass. The women in the book had responsible jobs (detective, doctor, lawyer) but they really just existed to be hit on by one of the male characters, who are apparently irresistible. The book was pretty entertaining, but I doubt that I would dvr the series. The tone would get tiresome over time. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

When Michael Skellig hires on to chauffeur Bismarck Avila, the idol of the skateboarding world, around on a drinking and sex club binge, he had no idea what he was getting himself and his employees into. First, the voices in his head start talking, then there is an assassination attempt. The next thing you know, his people are being tortured by a mad hatter detective over the location of barrels none of them know anything about. After that, the real craziness starts. Start reading Hart Hanson’s frenetic novel “The Driver, ” and you will instantly find yourself immersed in a world of wildly imagined characters, thoughtful dialog, sweet romances, and nonstop action. To say much more than that would be gilding the lily. I recommend “The Driver” to those who like their heroes unstable and their violence white hot. The author’s sensitive treatment of disabled veterans is a facet to be admired. Two things need to be corrected: Glocks do not have safeties on them (page 9); Cats do not have red eyes (page 279). Penguin Random House and www.firsttoread.com provided an advance galley for this review.

I had to go ahead and add this book to the DNF pile. Early on I realized that it's not for me..... at all. It's a fast paced adrenaline rush, which is a plus, but I found the writing to be juvenile and incredibly tacky. The characters are overworked and stereotyped; the author takes the time to describe the ethnicity of all of them, from the black guy smoking weed out in the open and voicing his disdain for white people staring at him to the Guatemalans working in the kitchen of the hotel.... Let's just say that it doesn't flow and I couldn't help but roll my eyes at least a few times per page. No thanks.

I really appreciated the dark humor in this book and how it helped soften some of the dark places in the book. I could really see this book as the beginning of a television series. I loved the dynamic of the character relationships and their depth in proximity to each other. I was not sure what to expect with this book and am glad I got the chance to review it. It really reminded me of Harlen Corben's style yet was still very original.

The plot drove me crazy.

This is a book I had problems measuring how much I liked but it's undeniable that I liked it. So let's call it a 3.5. Skellig is veteran and now a limo driver who is forced to work for a skater celebrity, whose life he had just saved. However, danger is not over and Skellig has just gotten himself in a mess so big even his friends could be in danger. This is an action-filled thriller narrated in first person by Skellig, who also tends to speak to the reader. I'm not sure I can call it a different style but it surely isn't conventional. It has its cons, though. I think Skellig is a character who would work much better on a screen, he has this attitude and he loves trying to evade by being funny, except his jokes aren't funny, not even to the characters in the book. I'm sure that would be great on a TV, when you're able to see the face he's making at that moment. In fact, most of the funny scenes would have been funnier if played by an actor, so I think I'd watch a live action of this book. Now, as a book, it also is quite enjoyable. Even though I'd frown most of the time to Skellig's attitude, it got to a point I'd giggle just because he was doing it again. I definitely can't complain about him being out of character. As for the plot, we have some mystery but the plot twists aren't strong. I think this is more the type of story for you to enjoy as it happens instead of feeling excited about what hasn't yet. Just sit and enjoy, I'd say. The really big flaw is the romance. I wasn't even expecting any to happen but as it did I need to mention this: what the hell? Actually, I was generous calling it romance. Skellig's love(?) life so erratic I'm glad the author didn't place any bets on that. One page he was head over heels and even heartbroken about Connie the lawyer, and then he'd be thinking again and going after Delilah the detective... All that in a weird, borderline-bipolar manner. I think Hanson was going for a love triangle because, in theory, there was lots of potential. He failed. I wish those parts were just erased from the story, they were just too weird. I almost forgot to mention but Hanson was obviously worried about diversity. I won't got in details but he's got almost all here. Immigrants, people with disability, homosexuals and, of course, women. I view this positively, despite the main guy still being a white American man, so I think those more knowledgeable in this could raise concerns. For me, I say, "yay!" This got longer than I had foreseen but summing up, it was a nice book. I don't usually read book written by men, action, book starred by men... there was a handful of stuff here that could have made me stay away, and I'm glad they didn't. I had a great time, and I hope to read Hanson's next work soon. I wonder if this will be made into a series? The story was pretty much closed but I feel there's a chance.

I quit on this one about 20 pages in, when the narrator explains that his rapper client's mother "died ugly during a rape." I get that in the world of the story, he's supposed to be summarizing information we already know. But I'm not really interested in continuing on with a story that's going to treat the assault and murder of a woman of color like a footnote in a white guy's story. There's enough of that going on in the real world - I don't need it in my escapist summer thrillers.

 


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