The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster, March 2016) is a first person narrative by Tanya Dubois aka Jo aka Tanya Pitts aka Jane Green aka Amelia Keen aka Debra Maze. Tanya/Amelia is on the run after her husband Frank Dubois dies. Did Tanya kill Frank? Or was Frank’s death an accident? One mystery leads to yet another as Tanya flees from lie after lie, life after life.
Tanya meets Blue in a bar in Austin, TX. When Mr. Oliver sends 2 men to question or kill Tanya, Blue and Tanya kill the men and escape. They begin visiting funeral homes to steal identities of deceased women. When Blue tells Tanya she’s killed her abusive husband, Jack, Tanya helps Blue bury the body. Blue suggests, since they can’t find a suitable cadaver look-alike, they simply switch identities. Tanya becomes Debra Maze, Blue’s real name, and Blue becomes Amelia Keen.
Tanya seems most at home in a bar. As she moves from town to town, changing identities on the fly, she keeps meeting men in bars. From Austin she flees to Recluse, Wyoming, where she kills the real Jack Reed in self-defense. She flees Recluse for upstate New York.
I won’t tell you Tanya’s real name. I won’t tell you about Ryan nor Mr. Oliver nor why Tanya went on the run in the first place. I don’t want to spoil the mystery.
I will mention Dominick because he’s a recurring figure in Tanya’s life. He’s the one genuinely nice and honest guy in her life, but he’s a cop and he suspects she’s not whom she claims to be and that she might be a wanted murderer.
The Passenger is a well-written mystery story with a compellingly strong female character who grows on the reader as complication after complication screws up Tanya’s life even more. There are so many wonderful twists and turns in this book that you won’t stop reading until you have read all of the story. Despite all of the foreshadowings, the ending comes as a real surprise.
My hat’s off to Lisa Lutz for an entertaining thrill-ride that made me hold onto my seat.