George Donato is an unemployed screenwriter, having just lost his staff-writing job on a cable sitcom. Desperate for cash, the neurotic George takes a job driving escorts - hired by an ex-con. George quickly learns the job is too dangerous (he’s officially a panderer), so he tries to quit, but the ex-con won’t have it. George continues driving escorts, falls in love with one - a sweet Brazilian, who dreams of being the next Warren Buffett. Things take a turn for the worse when George and his escort go the house of a famous sitcom star and witness a female studio head beating up the star. They escape the house, but find out the next day the sitcom star has been murdered. Soon, George becomes a suspect in the murder. Meanwhile, the Studio Head tries to buy George’s silence by offering him a six-figure deal on his animated children’s screenplay. George is caught in a moral vortex – should he lie and have a career or should he tell the truth and bring down a studio head? Lost in the underbelly of L.A., the only thing he can do is… keep on driving.
Like Elmore Leonard’s Hollywood novels GET SHORTY and BE COOL, THE DRIVER: AN LA STORY skewers an industry built on nonsensical hierarchies and the personalities that hold all of the power in the film industry—and have no intention of sharing it with a nobody like George. Unlike Leonard, however, D’Alessandro writes what he knows: back when he was a struggling, unemployed screenwriter, D’Alessandro took a last-resort job driving escorts for a busy Los Angeles escort agency. (All of the clients, including the not-so thinly-veiled bold-faced names, were actual agency clients.) Besides the obvious publicity value, this insiders look at the escort industry and the semi-autobiographical nature of the story gives THE DRIVER added commercial appeal.
With his self-deprecating (and frequently hilarious) quips, THE DRIVER has in George Donato an appealing protagonist with the same appeal as Lawrence Block’s comedic burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. (Two short summaries for future Donato books appear at the end of the manuscript.)