LONG DRIVE HOME by Will Allison

Book Quote:

“Liz and I might even have paused to remark on how lucky we were, as we were inclined to do, but at no point would we have considered the possibility that we’d dodged a bullet that day, that we’d come this close to our lives veering permanently off course. That’s the kind of thing you see only in hindsight.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody  (MAY 18, 2011)

It’s rare that I start a book that is such a page-turner that I almost have a panic attack if I have to put it down. Long Drive Home by Will Allison is just such a book. It starts with a bang and the explosives just continue. It’s not that the book is a thriller, per se, though there is that element to the novel. It is just that Will Allison is a born story-teller and he gets the reader in his grips from the first paragraph. And he does not let go.

Glen Bauer is a married father with a six year-old daughter named Sara. He is driving Sara in his car when he sees a police officer go through a red light. He gives the cop the finger and thinks all is over. However, there is a tough guy in front of Glen who thinks that the finger was intended for him.  The tough guy stops his car, comes over to Glen and makes sure that Glen can see the gun protruding from inside his jacket. He demands an apology and, by God, he gets it. Glen is thoroughly furious now. His day has been ruined and he’s not such a calm driver to begin with. He leaves this scene only to be cut off through three lanes of traffic by a teenager speeding along in a Jaguar. Glen is not a happy camper. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, a quiet little burb and things like this just don’t happen to him. He thinks he has seen the last of the Jaguar but he’s wrong. It makes a u-turn and heads back towards Glen just as Glen is about to turn into his driveway. Glen decides to mess with the Jaguar driver – he’s furious. He turns his wheels to get in the same lane as the driver as if to play chicken and at the last minute, pulls away. Meanwhile, however, the driver of the Jaguar loses control of his car and hits a huge Sycamore tree, turning the vehicle over and over. Jamal, the sixteen year-old driver of the Jaguar is dead.

Now Glen is in a moral dilemma. If he tells the truth, he could be arrested as an accomplice to a killing. He also realizes that he put his six-year old daughter, Sara, at risk by his shenanigans. He decides to lie about what happened and say that he was just pulling into his driveway when Jamal lost control of his car. The police investigate and one very perspicacious detective, Rizzo, thinks that Glen is hiding something. Also, the evidence contradicts Glen’s story. His tire tracks are several feet beyond his driveway. If, as he says, he was pulling into his driveway, the tracks should end before his driveway starts. Rizzo is on Glen like white on snow.

As Glen begins to tell one lie after another, or omit one fact or another, in order to cover up what happened, his life starts to unravel. His marriage begins to crumble in the wake of fear – fear of litigation or imprisonment, and his wife’s sense that Glen is not telling the truth. Glen’s moral dilemmas get worse and worse. In fact, he realizes that Sara knows the truth and he wants to keep her as far away from Detective Rizzo as possible. He thinks he can get away with things but the situation keeps getting more and more out of hand. Glen also thinks that if certain situations had not occurred prior to Jamal’s accident, he never would have acted like he did. He becomes obsessed with finding someone or something to blame for Jamal’s death other than himself.

Jamal’s mother hires a lawyer in consideration of a wrongful death suit, Rizzo won’t get off Glen’s tail and Sara inadvertently speaks to Jamal’s mother about the accident. Glen and his wife separate, ostensibly to keep their assets separate, but in reality their marriage is becoming a sham.

The novel is told in first person by Glen and also as a letter he is composing for his daughter, Sara, to give to her when she is eighteen. It would have been nice if there had been more of the letter included in the novel as the letter really gets into Glen’s head and his rationalizations and truths regarding the accident.

This book is a moral thriller and a good look at today’s society. What constitutes a lie versus a lie of omission? Where does truth end and lying begin. When is it right to lie and when does lying take its toll on others’ greater freedoms. Allison examines all these issues in a book you won’t soon forget. Don’t plan on doing anything else once you start this novel. If you’re like me, you’ll give up eating and sleeping until it’s finished.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 22 readers
PUBLISHER: Free Press; Original edition (May 17, 2011)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Reading Guide
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May 18, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Psychological Suspense, Reading Guide, US Mid-Atlantic

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