Um…. I read this all the way through 2 times now. I upped the rating half a point the second time for literary value but … they’re not today’s values. Back in 1970 post-modern lit was all the rage like wearing hippie clothes and smoking on airplanes. This book feels a lot like that and the movie even more so.
The Driver’s Seat
by Muriel Spark
1970 / 107 pages
rating 8.5 / classic literary crime –
It’s basically a who-done-it, then it turns into a why-done-it and concludes with a who-done-it again. It comes complete with enough red-herrings to make dinner. On a more literary level there’s a lot of self-reflexive stuff for a side course with patterns and symbolism for desert – I even had left-overs what with the religious undertones – (groan).
And there is too much coincidence and a couple of glaring omissions which aren’t quite covered up with the abundance of repetition and an obsessive compulsive disorder plus a problem with motivation. (“Why-done-it?”) You see this stuff for what it is on a second reading – most of it anyway. Bottom line, it’s not really satisfying because there’s too much literary fluffing for the meat.
On the good side, the foreshadowing that our protagonist will be murdered (not a spoiler at all) is worked into a really interesting structure creating a great deal of tension.
I liked it kinda-sorta – but I don’t think it’s for today’s crime reader – times have changed in fiction as well as in fashion. Making the real sense of it is tough going – even the title is edgy and fraught with possible meanings. It’s ambiguous and dark with a surprise ending – the first time round anyway.