Lutz, Lisa. 2016. The Passenger. New York: Simon &
ISBN: 978-1451686630. $25.99 USD.
Kudos to author Lisa Lutz for moving beyond her
Spellman Files into more serious fiction in last year’s How to Start a Fire, and now, The
Passenger. Fans of the Spellman
series may object to this transition since it is hard to let go of Izzy, Rae
and the rest of the Spellman crew. (I
miss you, guys)! However, I’m glad I had
an opportunity to read The Passenger,
a novel of hidden secrets, fake and found identities and road trips. The main character -Tanya? Amelia? Debra? Emma?
Sonia? Jo? - is hiding from a secret in
her past and has become an expert at assuming new identities in order to
survive. When her tavern-owner husband
is killed in an accidental fall (are we sure about that?), Tanya goes on the
run, afraid she’ll be a suspect in his death.
Criss-crossing the United States, in a variety of dilapidated vehicles, with
fewer and fewer resources at hand, our protagonist begins to lose more and more
of herself, her integrity and her courage as she tries to stay hidden. Along the way she encounters a wide variety
of characters and situations that seem helpful at first; but we soon see the
darker side of the life she is being forced to live. The narrative is interspersed with old e-mails
from someone in Tanya’s past, and we gradually are given more and more clues
about why she has been on the run for almost 10 years. Darker than her previous novels, but
propulsive in narrative and dialogue, we can’t help hanging on for the ride to
a surprising twist of an ending. Though
I will always have a soft spot for The Spellmans, some of my favorite literary
characters, I enjoyed being part of the road trip in The Passenger.