Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake. Later still, of course, there'd be no doubt.
In a genre more and more notable for overstuffed 300- and 400-page novels, Sallis's lean tale (158 pages) and flat-voiced prose are refreshing, even startling. Though the pace never lags, Sallis faultlessly throws in references to Borges, Paul Celan and old TV shows and films ("The Rockford Files," "Thunder Road") to make sure we know he's reheating a lot of old conventions in this potboiler. And by cutting back and forth in time, he even manages to provide the backstory of Driver's childhood and first film jobs as well as the lives of the criminals out to kill him and get back the heist money. It's a lovely piece of work that makes you wish some other writers would take lessons from him.