Monday 15 September 2014

Recomendation - Drive by Mark West

Drive cover by Mark WestMark West’s latest novella is in some ways a departure from the author’s previous work; there’s none of the supernatural horror of The Mill here. But despite its realism there are scares aplenty in Drive and its small-town English realism adds to the effect. Drive’s set up is simple: David and Nat are on their way back from a party; they've never met before but David has offered Natalie a lift home. On the way, they encounter a group of drunk and possibly high boy racers in a souped up car, who they see nearly run over some women in the street. Almost at random, David and Nat are targeted by these youths, and the two spend the rest of the night driving round the estates and one-way system of Gaffney, attempting to flee their pursuers, who become increasingly violent and unhinged.

It’s a tense ride indeed for the reader, and ideally one read in a single sitting with no pit-stops. The story is pared down, barely giving you room to breathe. The characterisation and changing relationship between David and Nat is well done, occurring for the reader in the brief windows between the action. By contrast, the yobs with their laddish banter and blaring music are presented with no back-story, no real explanation for their acts. This seems a deliberate ploy by West, emphasising the essentially random nature of the violence, and giving the car that pursues David and Nat some of the impersonal, relentless horror of the truck from Duel. (It’s certainly a more inventive and original reworking of that theme than the recent Stephen King/Joe Hill collaboration.)

In short this is another impressive work from West, who seems to be mastering the novella form. Published by Pendragon Press, and available both as an ebook and as a limited edition paperback, this one is very much worth a test drive.

No comments: