cover image Driven


James Sallis. Poisoned Pen, $19.95 (158p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0011-3

The enigmatic loner known as Driver, introduced in 2005’s Drive, takes to the road again after two thugs assault him and his fiancée on a Phoenix, Ariz., street in this terse, brutal, poetic, perfectly wrought sequel. Maybe Driver is paranoid, but is it really paranoia when one team of hit men after another track you down and try to put you on ice? “Two cars this time, and they’d waited for an isolated stretch of road. Chevy Caprice and a high-end Toyota.” Sallis once again pays homage to the tight behaviorist style of French noir master Jean-Patrick Manchette (“he felt the trachea give way and fold in on itself”) and the bleak existential world of criminals beloved by fans of the films of Charles Bronson and Alain Delon, not to mention the passionate cult following for the 2011 film version of Drive. As is the case for all such episodes in the life of the stoic driver, you can come into this excellent novel cold, strap in, just hit the gas, and go. Author tour. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary Agency. (Apr.)