Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

All the crime thrillers that I have read recently have been supernatural or historical crime fiction based so it made a nice change to read a modern story. 

The Passenger has a winning formula for a great thriller, with elements that have proved popular in recent bestsellers including an unreliable narrator, dysfunctional relationships and a secret past. 

The lead character in this novel – I’ll refer to her as Tanya although she goes by many names – goes on the run after the sudden death of her husband. A dark and mysterious past is often alluded to throughout the story, and so while she has secrets from her adolescence, her actions in the present add more secrets for her to cover up and more intrigue and suspense to her tale. 

Whilst on the run, she picks up new names and aliases as if she were trying on a new outfit. She really considers each new persona; what they should look like, how they should act, even what they would order in a bar, and with each new character, comes new stories to invent and more trouble to get mixed up in. 

The novel is separated into chapters under sub-headings of each new aliases name. That format worked great for me as with each new name, a new stage in the story is set. Throughout the story, there are also emails chains between Tanya and someone from her past that she was obviously close to, which keeps you reminded that there is more about Tanya waiting to be revealed. 

The novel really draws you in with so many layers of mystery, and ultimately the reader knows that at some point Tanya must confront her past so you will get to know the real reason why she is the way she is. Tanya for me was neither likeable nor dislikeable, but a complex lead with a fascinating story that you want to get to the bottom of. 

My favourite character in the story was actually an equally mysterious woman that Tanya meets and later swaps identities with named Blue. Blue is deviously clever and doesn’t give much away to Tanya or to the reader. She clearly has a murky past herself and even by the end, I wasn’t entirely sure if she was good or bad. Blue is such an intriguing character, she totally deserves her own novel! 

Exploring the nature of identity and the trials of keeping secrets, this is a compelling psychological thriller that is sharp, clever and easy to read.

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