I have always been partial to stories written in the first person, and “The Passenger” by Lisa Lutz is one such. The beginning of the story is dramatic enough to grab your attention. A young woman, Tanya Dubois who tells her story in the book sees her husband, who is much older to her, fall to his death. Was she involved in his death? She assures us she wasn’t but who is to know the truth? Tanya flees from the house grabbing just a few essentials. You would think she does this so that she is not blamed for her husband’s death. You could be right but she fears more than anything else that the police may dig into her past and investigate what she hopes she has buried behind her forever.
The rest of the story is about Tanya on the run during which time she changes her identity several times. Her method, perfected over time is quite simple. It begins by her sizing up a woman who vaguely looks like her and who she can pass off as. She then picks her victim’s wallet, on a train or in a bar, and proceeds to use her identity papers, disguising herself as best she can to bear a resemblance to the victim. She has considerable proficiency and experience, it would appear, in changing her appearance.
It takes us some time to figure out what and who Tanya is running away from. Her old flame Ryan keeps feeding her with information about their old home town and how people there now believe that she is dead. The emails they exchange considerably add to the interest of the story. Lutz has skillfully used this medium to convey so much without slowing the pace of the story.
The adventures faced by Tanya during the course of her wanderings are too many to describe in a short review but they are plausible and add to the tension which permeates the book. Her meeting with a man whom she is tempted to confide in who turns out to be the local sheriff is described with elan by Lutz.
The end of the story is unexpected and leave the reader satisfied with a good read as well-written thrillers generally do. Did Tanya deserve what she got? Did life deal her a rotten pack of cards that made her behave the way she did? The answers are in Lutz’s book which I would highly recommend.