Lisa Lutz adds The Passenger to the list of Gone Girl genre thrillers with an unreliable mysterious narrator and vague references to crimes committed. Written with metaphors mimicking a Mickey Spillane detective novel – “…my nerves had finally settled down to a slow vibration, like a piano wire after the last note…” – the action is fast-paced, choppy, and compelling.
The plot is littered with dead bodies, beginning with the narrator’s dead husband. Claiming he fell down the stairs accidentally, the narrator runs away and creates a new identity but is soon found by a couple of thugs who also die, with the help of the narrator’s new friend, a former school teacher, now bartender, named Blue, who has no qualms shooting them.
Mysterious letters with obscure backdated references appear between the incidents, and clearly the narrator has something sinister in her background. As her identity changes with each chapter, and her moxie becomes lethal, the story takes on an unreal quality. Of course, the challenge is to figure out why the narrator is on the run, why she keeps changing her identity, what lurks in her past, and why her mother and lover betrayed her. You could read the last chapter and discover it all, but then, what fun is that?
The Passenger is one of those books you can read in a sitting, enjoying the ride, and then wonder why you did. But, make no mistake, I loved every minute.