Eric Jerome Dickey's latest, DRIVE ME CRAZY, is a fast-paced tale
about a man who finds himself in very big trouble. He has made the
mistake of getting involved with a married woman who is somewhat
insane. When she asks him to murder her husband for $30,000 he
agrees to do it. Being an ex-con, he's having problems finding work
and will do anything for some extra cash.
Driver works for a limousine service, picking up and dropping off
upscale clients who have plenty of money to throw away. Lisa, the
married woman he gets involved with, also works for this company.
Her husband, the man she is trying to murder and the owner of the
limo service, is known only by his last name, Wolf, a white man who
fits well in the black man's world. When he and Driver become
"friends," it becomes difficult for Driver to finish his "job" that
he agreed to do for Lisa.
The novel opens with a scene in a pool hall, BackBiters and
Syndicators, where Driver is hanging out with Wolf, who he
describes as "the only man to give me a chance on this side of The
Wall." And that's saying a lot. Through flashbacks, the reader
learns of Driver's debt to this man, and of Wolf hiring Driver a
few minutes after Driver had arrived to murder him. It is a strange
set of circumstances that sets Driver's story in motion.
As the two of them are having drinks at the pool hall, in sashays a
beautiful black woman. Driver decides (after Wolf leaves the bar)
to talk to her and refers to her as Miss Baklava Glue, but later
finds out that her real name is Arizona. He's mesmerized by her,
and doesn't realize the trouble she's going to get him into. Add
into the mix a stripper named Panther, for whom Driver has a soft
spot, plus Lisa, the crazy ex-lover, and you have one wild
Lisa, in fact, is so crazy that she calls the pool hall looking for
Driver while he and Wolf are having their drinks, knowing that her
husband is there with him. After Wolf leaves the bar, the
bartender, Pedro, says to Driver, "She's bold. Like she don't
care." It pretty much sums up Lisa Wolf. Her reckless behavior
turns into dangerous vigilante insanity, as she first goes after
Driver as a scorned lover, but then turns around and tries to scare
him into paying her back half of the $30,000 he took from her
without fulfilling his end of the bargain. She hires two huge men
to do whatever it takes to threaten Driver, be it trash the homes
of him and his friends, or beat him to a pulp without killing him.
Driver reaches a point where he's not sleeping and is doing what he
can to keep himself alive.
There are a lot of interesting and outlandish characters populating
DRIVE ME CRAZY. Among them is Driver's brother Rufus, a gay albino
who is fighting the battle against AIDS, and their relationship
demonstrates what makes Driver tick. They have a love-hate
relationship, rarely communicating, although distance is not an
issue. But deep down, blood is thicker than water and Driver does
what he can for his brother. There is also Arizona, who he later
discovers is a con-woman, and she has plenty up her sleeves as she
drives through town with her assistant, finding ways to make money
the illegal way. Then there is the egotistical author, Thomas
Marcus Freeman, whose latest book has made him a celebrity. He's
also one of Wolf's very important clients. Freeman's wife, a
beautiful African woman named Folsade, or Sade for short, befriends
Driver, who is puzzled and curious about this graceful woman, and
feels there is something going on that doesn't meet the eye.
On the surface this book appears to be all action and humor with no
depth --- but that is definitely not the correct assumption.
Dickey, as always, comes through with three-dimensional characters
with complex personalities that make them feel very real, yet he
adds to the mix a great deal of action that makes the book a fast
read. Plus, Dickey's street humor always has this reviewer
chuckling. Recommended to readers who are not afraid of books that
go over the edge, DRIVE ME CRAZY is sure to please.
Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton (Ratmammy@lofton.org) on January 21, 2011
Drive Me Crazy