Book review: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

Friday, March 4, 2016 Permalink

I haven’t read any of Lisa Lutz’s previous work, but she’s best known for her Spellman series… about a family of private investigators.

Her latest book, The Passenger, is an entertaining standalone novel about life on the run and living off the grid.

Book review: The Passenger by Lisa LutzThe Passenger
by Lisa Lutz
Published by Simon & Schuster
on March 1st 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1451686633, 9781451686630
Pages: 320

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra (**Ed: ie. Tanya) especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

We meet Tanya after her husband’s death but learn more about their life together through her occasional reminiscences as well as a series of emails she exchanges with former boyfriend Ryan.

Tanya becomes Amelia but briefly, which is when she meets a bartender (nicknamed) Blue. We don’t understand why Amelia / Tanya’s life is at risk until later in the novel, but she’s forced to move on pretty quickly… switching identities with Blue and becoming Debra.

But Blue has her own secrets. We never really learn them all which is both a good and bad thing. The fact she has no qualms with violence and lies with ease and confidence suggests a long complicated history. I would have liked to have known more, but only because I’m nosy and easily intrigued rather than it having any impact on the plot.

Lutz does well with Tanya / Amelia / Debra (etc) and we’re treated to a complex character whose true self is not revealed until the end. We know she was already on the run before becoming Tanya, but it takes some time to learn why. Lutz keeps us guessing on that front – and throws in a twist or two for good measure.

The novel’s written in first person from Tanya’s point of view, so we’re inside her head. And her conscience. And we’re left pondering the fact that ‘good people are sometimes forced to do bad things’.

I’m not usually a fan of books featuring people on the run (or car chases and the like) but found myself intrigued by Tanya’s efforts to remain anonymous.

So, I enjoyed this novel and raced through it easily in an evening; and – for a change – was happy with the way everything worked out.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz was published by Simon & Schuster (US) and now available.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley for review purposes.

  • Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)
    March 5, 2016

    I am planning to listen to this book on audio. Glad to know you enjoyed it.

    • Debbish
      March 5, 2016

      It has distinct sections Nise’ so would probably work well as an audiobook – as there are obvious places to take breaks.

  • Greg Hill
    March 6, 2016

    I like the sound of this one a lot, and while I don’t read a ton of straight thrillers this one has hooked me. I like the sound of the twists, and the first person POV- what are her secrets? I want to find out… 🙂

  • Karen Blue
    March 8, 2016

    I am glad to hear you mostly liked this book. See, I love car chases and a character that keeps me guessing. I was riveted reading this and gave a high rating.

    • Debbish
      March 8, 2016

      I was intrigued by the identity stuff – morphing in and out of others’ identities so found that particularly interesting!

  • Michelle - Jarrah Jungle
    March 9, 2016

    I have just finished this one too, it was pretty good, and I never would have guessed the ending 🙂

  • Silver's Reviews
    March 13, 2016

    Great post.

    I loved this book too.


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