Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Far Beyond Driven

I’ve known Jim Sallis for quite a few years, even though I haven’t seen him physically in at least five or so. He used to live in New Orleans, but moved to Arizona to escape the humidity. He’s perhaps best known for the literary mystery series featuring the character of Lew Griffin. Other than a few short stories, the Griffin novels were my introduction to Sallis’s work, and they are uniformly excellent, with such titles as The Long Legged Fly, Moth, and Black Hornet. One of his most recent books is a standalone novel, though. It’s called Drive and is certainly among his best books. It has definitely moved into first place for me among his works, and that took some doing.

All of Jim Sallis’s work is informed by the noir fiction of such writers as Chester Himes and Dashielle Hammett, but Drive is more noir than most and is truly a classic of its kind. If you decide to read it, I will give you one warning. The story is not always linear and at times the sequencing of events can be a bit unclear. That doesn’t stop me from considering it a ripping good read. There are scenes that are just so “right” that they are heartbreaking.

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