Upon discovering her husband’s dead body at the foot of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair, and flees town under a new assumed identity. She’s done this before, and in the midst of the plot twists that require her to change her name multiple times throughout the novel, the one thing that Lisa Lutz makes clear is Tanya’s weariness at running. Along the way, Tanya encounters Blue, a woman on the run from an abusive husband, and while Blue appears to be a useful ally, she has much more of an edge than Tanya does and may soon prove more dangerous than Tanya realizes.
The Passenger is a fun thriller. We know from the beginning that Tanya didn’t kill her husband, so the main mystery is about why Tanya is running away in the first place. Lutz drops us hints throughout, emails between a woman named “Jo” who is on the run, and a man named Ryan, who appears to have had a relationship with Jo in the past but has since moved on to a new life without her. I actually found those emails among the most compelling bits of this book, and the idea that even while someone’s world can go completely belly up, their friends and family’s lives can go on like normal. I really liked this, especially when added to Tanya’s obvious desire to be able to return home.
Lutz adds a couple other subplots just to spice things up, notably an encounter with a pair of hit men who want to kill Tanya, and a handsome sheriff who appears to want to know the real Tanya. Neither of these subplots really did it for me. The incident with the hit men added some suspense, but that sense of danger wasn’t really kept up through the rest of the novel. And the sheriff as potential love interest just struck me as odd, and detracted from the actual conflict in the plot.
I think the major drawback in the novel is the lack of clarity about why Tanya is on the run in the first place. I understand that this was a deliberate dramatic device, but while the various vignettes of Tanya under different identities were in themselves fast-paced, the novel as a whole lacked the escalating sense of danger. Tanya changed her appearance and identity multiple times in the novel, and while there was a clear reason for each identity change, I never really felt the overarching urgency behind her flight, the initial impetus to go on the run in the first place.
In contrast, the secondary character of Blue crackled on the page. Her motives were slippery throughout, but the main reason for her flight was clear, and I found her overall to be a more interesting character. I wish there had been a bit more of her in the book, or that Tanya’s character had a bit more of the spark that made Blue such a standout.
Still, overall The Passenger was a fun thriller, fast-paced and filled with twists. It’s a page-turner that will keep you entertained, and I especially love how Lutz delves into the wearying effects of being on the run.
I love books about kick-ass women, and thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada, you can win a whole collection!
Win a #KickAssWomen Prize Pack with seven (7) books from Simon and Schuster Canada (Canada only, ends March 18, 2016 / Click on each title to learn more about it)
- The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
- Dark Territory by Susan Philpott
- The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
- Still Mine by Amy Stuart
PLUS an exclusive addition:
- Blue Hour by Douglas Kennedy
- Black Apple by Joan Crate
- Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish
Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for inviting me to join the #KickAssWomen blog promo, and for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The most kick-ass woman I know is my best friend Megan. She teaches kindergarten all day then goes home to take care of her two kids, a 5 year old and a one year old. I don’t know how she does it but I’m always amazed at how together she manages to be. I have no kids and I’m not half as organized and productive as she is! She kicks ass and is super nice about it too!
The most kickass woman I know is one of my closest friends. She’s had a lot of tough things happen in her life, but she’s extremely resilient and never lost her sense of humour.
The most kickass woman I know is my sister, strong, independent and always reliable.
The most kick-ass person is my sister-in-law. She has her own share of misfortunes and heartaches and she can still find the goodness in people and help kids with their struggles
My mother is the most kiss ass person I know! she is so strong and cares for her family through everything