There’s an old joke that goes like this: “What this difference between a porcupine and an Audi? A porcupine’s pricks are on the outside.” Imagine if the pricks that normally drive an Audi were replaced by Alex and his droogs and now you’ve got the basis for Mark West’s “Drive” (Near to the Knuckle). The terror is always increasing as the Audi and its occupants torment an English village’s late-night party goers, it’s part “Duel” and part “A Clockwork Orange”.
I’ve jumped a little ahead in “Drive”, so let’s circle back. The book opens at a party with David, who has been in training for his company, stands glumly with a drink in hand thinking about how he’s going to get home tomorrow after his class. He runs into his friend Karen who pawns off her friend Natasha (or Nat) on him. The party winds down and David, being the ever English gentlemen, offers to drive Nat home. With a renegade Audi prowling the streets, things are about to quite dangerous for this unsuspecting pair.
West’s “Drive” doesn’t even reach 30,000 words but in its short eight chapters, West fills the novella with heightened tension as David and Nat try to outrun the thugs in the Audi. Every time they believe themselves to be safe, the Audi returns like a Great White circling a broken down boat. To his credit, West rarely lets them see the Audi approaching. First, they only hear “the heavy, low thud of hardcore bass” which builds up slowly along with their dread and anxiety. Then the panic arrives when the Audi’s high beams flash on directly behind them.
Mark West’s “Drive” is a taut pulpy horror novella filled with suburban fears of aimless violence. “Drive” would pair well with a weekend filled with watching ’70s B-movies.