If you know the name Hart Hanson, it’s probably as the creator of the hit TV series Bones, loosely based on the life and writings of author and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs. Bones somehow manages to remain breezy and light despite the grizzly and gory deaths the show’s characters are always investigating.
With his first novel, Hart Hanson manages to pull of the same trick. In The Driver, one-time Army Special Forces officer Michael Skellig is trying to live a quiet life. Running his limousine company affords him an OK living but his real goal for the business is to employ veterans who might not otherwise be able to earn a living. His team includes Lucky, an undocumented Afghan immigrant and lady’s man who once translated for American military forces, Tinkertoy, a genius-level auto mechanic suffering from severe PTSD, and Ripple, a permanently stoned 19-year-old who lost both his legs to a sniper.
During a routine job chauffeuring for Bismarck Avila, a millionaire skateboard entrepreneur, Skellig saves his client’s life from a pair of amateur assassins and ends up being coerced into taking over the role of Avila’s bodyguard. This new job puts Skellig and his ragtag team at the center of a Elmore Leonard-esque crime plot involving crooked cops, motorcycle gangs, ghostly voices floating on the wind, and barrels full of laundered cash. Not to mention Skellig’s potential love interests, a high-powered lawyer and a police detective who can’t decide whether to assist him or take him in for questioning.
Like his show Bones, Hanson’s novel is a good humored, pleasant way to spend some time, which is saying something considering the violent treatment its main characters both receive and dole out.