I didn't mean to sit up late in order to finish Drive, the new novella from Mark West, published by Pendragon Press. I really didn't. However, once I started to read, I found it difficult to stop. It's not often I get caught up in the moment with a book; usually I get drawn in slowly, soaking up the atmosphere. Yet here I was, quite unable to put the thing down, compelled to find out what happens next.
West's writing style, which I am familiar with from several excellent short stories (The Bureau of Lost Children springs to mind, from Ill At Ease 2 which I reviewed here) is perfect for this style of breathless adventure. David finds himself in the nondescript urban sprawl of Gaffney, attending a course for his work. He offers Natasha a lift back to her flat, and becomes haplessly embroiled in a night of pursuit, escalating violence and terror. Although Drive is not a supernatural tale, the setting of a deserted town in the early hours of a weeknight works well enough to suggest dark stories of the past, such as Don't Get Lost by Tanith Lee. The protagonists become drawn deeper into a furious chase through the sodium-lit streets, trying to escape from a mysterious and threatening Audi.
"The Audi pulled up alongside and David glanced over. The driver was looking straight ahead, his hood pulled up so that all could be seen was the tip of his nose and his pursed lips. There was a person in the back, also wearing his hood, slumped low and almost out of sight".
A sense of impending confrontation pushes things along at breakneck pace, and by the time the satisfying conclusion arrived, I had to read something a little more relaxing before going to sleep... Drive is a great tale, atmospheric and exciting. Perhaps this could be the first of a series? Recommended for all lovers of a high-octane read!