The Driver by Greg D’Alessandro

four stars

The last thing George Donato should be doing is worrying about the bald spot on the back of his head, but he can’t help it, it still causes him to second guess himself, even when he should be worrying about the other problems in his life, like the fact that his job just might end up killing him. George, or Francis as he goes by quite frequently in the novel, The Driver, by George D’Alessandro, is a tale about a wannabe scriptwriter who gets mixed up in the wrong kind of profession that he knows his mother would be ashamed of. He drives female dancers from one place to another, where they offer their services to men, take their fee, and get on the road again to their next client, with George at the wheel. George wants to quit once he realizes what he has gotten himself into, but he has no money, he’s scared of his new intimidatingly large boss, and he doesn’t want to leave the beautiful girl, Mariani, who is one of the dancers he drives, who he has fallen for. So he continues, driving his yellow caddy, performing his job like he is supposed to, until he and Mariani get themselves mixed up in a messy situation, which ends up leading to murder.

Although the subject matter is rather dark, D’Alessandro has a talent for using comedy to relieve the tension in a lot of the scenes that take place in this book. As the protagonist, George’s voice is filtered through self-deprecating quips and interesting observations, which makes the reader warm up to the guy. Not only that, but George has to make many decisions based on what is right, and what is going to help him survive, that causes the reader to think about their own life choices. Since it is made clear that this book is based on D’Alessandro’s life experiences, the visuals and characters presented within its pages are very gritty and real, but sometimes all of the grit blocks out where a little bit more heart could have been beneficial.

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