The Passenger (Lisa Lutz)

book cA fun 304 page romp. Tanya Pitts husband is dead at the bottom of the stairs. She assumes he fell down them, because she had nothing to do with his death. Instead of calling the police, she decides to “cut and run” as the Americans say. She packs a bag, grabs what money she can find and takes off into the night. It becomes apparent early on that this isn’t the first time Tanya has had to run. After making a phone call to a mysterious man, she requests a new name with credentials and some cash. Hair coloured, disposable phones in hand, Amelia Keen is born and off to find a new back roads town to start over in. The big question is why?

This is my first read by author Lisa Lutz, and from what I understand it’s her first venture into the suspense genre. I think what really drew me in was my instant liking of Tanya. She’s tough, but the author gave her many layers and I could sense the hurt and love that was buried under all those years of pretending. The story moves along at just the right pace. I enjoyed the journey she was on, but couldn’t wait to know what had gone wrong in her life to put her on this path. There were a few scenarios she got herself into that were a bit far fetched but easily forgiven. The story is told through Tanya’s voice and done so intimately I felt like I was reading her diary. The entire first 3/4 of the book is dedicated to her life on the run and the people who manage to become relevant in her life, as hard as she tries to remain invisible.

There are also brief emails added at the end of each chapter with a mystery man, Ryan…these are the only reference to her past life that surface until the end of the book when all is revealed. Lisa Lutz does this sort of thing really well – exploring her characters psychological spirits and giving them great depth and perception. Love them or loathe them (and I did a bit of both with all of them during the course of the story) you can’t help but be fascinated from first page to last. Or perhaps reading being so subjective I should say I was fascinated from first page to last. I read it in one big gorgeous gulp and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I also have to point out what a great cover – it draws you in and makes you feel the thrill of anticipation as to where that road may lead. Unknown and waiting to be unravelled, where will the story take us? I enjoy this anticipation feeling at the beginning of a novel. But after about 70% into the book I realized I didn’t really know the narrator. She was so focused on running and surviving that her personality never shined through. She seemed only able to follow the path that led back to the start. Sadly, the truth is life doesn’t allow for passengers. There’s no way to continue to ride on the wings of someone else’s identity when the past is left so undone. The Passenger is a good ride. I just needed more character development.

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