Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Passenger

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
Simon & Schuster: 3/1/16
eBook review copy. 320 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781451686630

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz is a very highly recommended fast-paced thriller about a woman on the run.

Tanya Dubois is her current identity, but one she's going to have to lose soon since her husband died after falling down the stairs. Tanya can't afford to have too many questions asked about her identity or too much scrutiny focused on her. She packs a bag, grabs what cash she can, hits the road and makes a few more withdrawals along the way until she reaches a dive motel where she can dye her hair and make a call on a pre-paid phone to someone from her past who apparently owes her a big favor. She asks him to send her more cash and a new identity so she can ditch her current name. Now she's on the run looking for a new start as Amelia.

The opening of Lutz's novel sets off at a break-neck paced and keeps it up until the end. Tanya, whose original name may have been "Jo," becomes "Amelia," "Debra," "Emma," "Sonia," and "Paige" while on the run. When she meets Blue, a bartender who recognizes the look of someone who is a fugitive, she gains a confidant - and eventually someone with whom she can swap identities to help them both out. Now she's Debra.

You never quite know if Tanya/Amelia/Debra, etc. is innocent or not. The ease in which she can slip into a new name and identity is disquieting, to say the least. Not many people could do that or have a clue how to do this, let alone actually know someone to call for cash and a new identity. What exactly went on in her past that she has this connection? Is she as innocent as she claims? It becomes more and more difficult to believe in her innocence, even as you are supporting her escape from one incident to another. Surely she must be a good person who has just been through some bad things, right? But when the man who sent a new identity also sends a couple of thugs to kill her, you will begin to ask "Exactly what was her original identity and what happened to make her run the first time?"

Adding to the intrigue are the emails she, as Jo, has been exchanging with Ryan, someone from her past, her hometown, and someone who is privy to the original reason she sought out a new identity. These were exchanged over years and are inserted in-between her current-on-the-lam activities.

Lutz does a brilliant job making you care about her protagonist. The writing is masterful, sharp and smart. The scenes are well-crafted and carefully plotted while keeping the quick pace, which encourages a sense of urgency while reading. The ending is very satisfying and worth the nail-biting that happened along the way. This is a perfect stuck-overnight-at-the-airport book. You'll be hugging your handbag closely and trying to keep tabs on your fellow travelers while racing to the end of this worthy thriller.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Simon & Schuster for review purposes.

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