Drive Or Die by Mark E. Tucker

Drive Or Die

A True Story of Addiction, Murder and Hope
Email this review


In this harrowing yet witty memoir, Tucker, a former heroin addict and alcoholic, recounts his experience being held hostage by a brutal madman on a nightmarish road trip.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Tucker was a longtime alcoholic and drug addict when he had the misfortune of crossing paths with James Moran, aka Juan Martinez—Mexican Mafioso, member of the notorious 18th Street Gang, and, unbeknownst to Tucker, the eighth most wanted man in America. Living rough and strung out on heroin, Tucker agreed to drive Moran to visit his father’s grave in the Ozarks in exchange for dope and a sizable cash payment. In order to drive Moran, and unperturbed by the doctor’s warning that he might lose a leg, Tucker discharged himself from the hospital where he was receiving treatment for a dangerous drug-related infection. Shortly after hitting the road, Tucker realized that Moran was paranoid, highly unstable, and a likely murderer. Erratic and in possession of a .38 caliber revolver, Moran began barking orders, attempting to shoot rivals, and questioning Tucker’s loyalty while threatening his life and those of his friends and family. À la Tarantino meets Kerouac, the two traversed the Northwest, trying to generate income by unloading drugs and meeting other addicts along the way, such as the professional huckleberry picker who foraged to finance his and his partner’s habits and young Carrie Anne Blackford, who became Moran’s second hostage. Tucker struggled to manage his addiction as Moran’s paranoia and violence intensified, and Tucker and Carrie evaded repeated near executions and emotional torment only to unwittingly get entangled in a brutal double homicide. The violent conclusion of the hostage situation was only the beginning for Tucker, who found himself a suspect rather than a hero after bringing an end to Moran’s reign of terror. While Tucker and co-author Richman do a remarkable job conveying an almost excruciating sense of tension, they are equally adept at portraying the daily minutiae and preoccupations of the addict, such as Tucker’s visceral depictions of withdrawal or his expert scamming of Nordstrom. Prose perfectly captures all the mania, giddiness, and raw terror of the dire situation, and the authors’ penchant for dark comedy is fantastic, as with a recollection of scouting for dope in Mormon country.

Horrifying, darkly comic, yet ultimately hopeful—a riveting account.

Pub Date: June 12th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5119-2826-7
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2015


NonfictionDRY by Augusten Burroughs
by Augusten Burroughs
FictionJESUS' SON by Denis Johnson
by Denis Johnson
NonfictionGENTLEMAN JUNKIE by Graham Caveney
by Graham Caveney