The Passenger is a fast-paced thriller that will most certainly leave you breathless. The plot is well crafted with good twists and turns, populated with strong characters, and short clipped sentences provide good momentum driving narrative forward, capturing the constant sense of urgency.
Tanya has been living a secret life for almost a decade, but she’s not a skilled perpetrator on the run and there’s an innocence to her, a naivety that rounds out her character nicely. Her husband’s death triggers panic and she’s quickly on the run, trying to stay ahead of her past. She soon meets Blue, a barmaid with icy eyes and a questionable background. Blue offers Tanya a place to stay and a solution to both their problems – swap identities as a means of escaping their personal demons. On the surface it looks like a good idea and Tanya agrees, but it soon becomes clear that Blue is cold-hearted and in looking after her own interests has set Tanya up.
Tanya changes identities faster than costume change at a fashion show. She changes her hair and looks, and quickly becomes adept at pick pocketing women’s purses in pursuit of a new identity and cash to keep her on the run and off the radar. Lisa Lutz has handled these multiple changes well with credible circumstances surrounding each new reason to ditch the old name and find a new one.
Some parts could have been better addressed, such as when Blue’s husband tracks Tanya down in a remote town and beats her up to find out where his wife is, she escapes but there’s no reference to her injuries or any pain that she’s feeling, which might have slowed her down.
What was great about this novel is that women were the main characters holding the story together. Men feature as support characters, or love interests, or as back stabbing bastards, but the women are the power component, and they aren’t reliant on men to save them. These women are gutsy, smart and resourceful and not some simpering female sidekick to a male character. Blue is cold and calculating, and will kill at will for her own moral reasons, or less, while Tanya still has a soul and feels remorse for her actions, however, events ultimately take her to a place of no return and she soon feels her humanity slipping away as she leaves a trail of bodies in her wake.
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster 2016)
NOTE: I received my copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Author website: Lisa Lutz – The Passenger