The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (5 out of 5)
I recently told a customer of mine at the store that it’s been almost a year since I read a great thriller. I told her the last one that I read that was a edge of the seat thriller and had me from the moment I picked it up was “Girl On A Train”. And I guesstimated that it was about a year ago that I read that. The next day, my review of that book popped up in my Facebook memories…. so that was a clear sign to me to find something equally compelling. There were a stack of S&S advances that my queen Wendy had sent me. That cover got my eye, and I am a fan of Lisa Lutz from her fabulous Spellman Files series of years back. This is a whole new direction, so I had to pursue it. 7 hours later, I was done. And gobsmacked. In the best of ways. I wrote the review yesterday and put it on the recommends at the store. It is exactly the type of book I was looking for. So consider this highly recommended.
The first time we see “Tanya Dubois”, she is standing over her dead husband’s body at the foot of their stairs. Quickly realizing that this doesn’t look good in any way, shape, or form, she takes all the money, his car, bids farewell to the one person she was close with (as in, cheating on her husband with), and takes off cross-country. She ends up in a bar and strikes up an uneasy (at best) truce with Blue, the bartender who knows someone with a hidden agenda when she sees one. She keeps her friends close and probable enemies closer and invites Amelia (same girl, new identity) to stay with her. Of course, a male enters the picture to mess things up a bit more- in this case, to mess Amelia up. Domenic is a viable love interest until you realize he’s the one person Amelia is trying to avoid- a cop. This is an interesting angle. She keeps on with her and Blue’s scheme, and there’s more mystery going down on her side of town- mysterious email correspondence with a guy named Ryan. There are a number of different things going on at the same time, and when you get the conclusion, well, it’s a damn good one! Well worth the wait. Also well worth the wait is Lutz’s style of satire- there’s some self-mockery on the part of Tanya/Amelia through much of the book, which endears the character to you even as she’s doing some truly dopey things. And I really, really liked this character… at the same time, there are places where I said “Are you kidding me?” and smacked my head. I liked the spirit of adventure and the self-survivalist mode she’s always in. I really enjoyed the supporting cast. And that ending- wow. That’s all I got. Except to say- get your ass out there, pick a copy up, and read it. You will enjoy it. And yes, you will laugh at parts of it as well. A win- win.
The Passenger is out now from the fine folks at Simon & Schuster.