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The Driver - Mandasue Heller
Member Name: brittle1906
The Driver - Mandasue Heller
Advantages: Fast paced novel
Disadvantages: Slightly predictable ending
Review of 'The Driver', a novel by Mandasue Heller.
I am reviewing the paperback version of the novel, published in 2011 by Hodder And Stoughton, ISBN 9780340954201, 372 pages, cover price £6.99, genre:- Modern fiction.
The Grange estate in Manchester is a notorious place. Run down tower blocks of flats form the bulk of the estate. The Grange is not the sort of place that people move to willingly, consequently some of society's poorest people live there, not through choice but through circumstance.
The plot begins with Joe Weeks, a single man in his late twenties, moving into a vacant one bedroomed flat in one of the tower blocks.
Joe catches the attention of Cheryl, a young single mother with a mild weed habit and an on/off boyfriend, Shay. Joe comes to the rescue when Cheryl's washing machine floods her flat and she is so grateful that she decides to throw a party to welcome Joe to the estate and to introduce him to some of the neighbours. Cheryl discovers that Joe has recently split up with his girlfriend and had found himself homeless as a result. He had accepted the offer of a council flat on The Grange, without even viewing the property as he was so desperate.
Cheryl arranges her party to coincide with Shay's weekend away with one of his other girlfriends to avoid complications. The party goes well and Joe makes the acquaintance of several of his neighbours. He is pleased to find that he is accepted and welcomed into the hierarchy of the estate, this is in no small way related to the fact that he likes a drink and is not averse to a joint or three!
As a result of meeting other people, Joe is offered a job as a driver by Eddie Quinn, the self appointed hard man of the estate. Quinn has a finger in many pies, most of them dodgy, he is a drug dealer, a debt collector and 'enforcer'. Very soon Joe realises that Eddie Quinn also has a sideline as a pimp when he meets by chance, one of the four Eastern European girls living in a top floor flat. It transpires that Quinn keeps the girls locked up in the flat, releasing them only to work on the streets. The girls are terrified of Quinn and when Joe realises that there is far more going on around him than he feels comfortable with, he vows he will help out the prostitute, Katya and her friends.
The plot follows Joe's efforts through to a cracking finale, with lots of twists and turns along the way.
==My Thoughts and Conclusion==
I have read several other books by Mandasue Heller and enjoyed them. In my view, Heller's writing style and the subjects she touches upon are fairly similar to those of popular author, Martina Cole, but a little less gruesome!
In my opinion, 'The Driver' is a glimpse into a world that most of us know very little about. I felt the author had dealt very sympathetically with the character's experiences of poverty, fear and degradation, without sensationalising events.
The characters are extremely well drawn and although some are intensely unlike-able, the author has created a wealth of diverse characters to hold the readers interest. The novel does, as one might expect given the subject matter, have a great deal of bad language and descriptions of unpleasant events, so I would say that it is not for the easily shocked reader.
To my mind, the novel is not as shudder-making as similar books when it comes to graphic descriptions but it is one to be aware of!
All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and will probably read it again. I found the characters and plot interesting and the storyline kept up a pretty fast pace from beginning to end.
I would recommend this novel to others whilst providing they are not shocked by 'ripe' language!
I am awarding the novel 4*, my reason for dropping a star is that I thought the outcome of the plot was a little predictable.
Thank you for reading.
İbrittle1906 November 2011
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.
Summary: A good plot with strong characters