MysteryPeople Review: THE PASSENGER by Lisa Lutz

  • Review by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

9781451686630If you pick up a copy of Lisa Lutz’s latest, The Passenger, make sure you clear your calendar first—you won’t be able to move off the couch until you finish this thrill ride of a book.  

“In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it.  I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death.  I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it.”  And so we meet Tanya Dubois—who upon discovering her husband’s body (the victim of an apparent tumble down the stairs) packs a suitcase, cleans out his gambling stash, and hits the road.  

She soon trades in her car, dyes her hair, takes on a new name, and heads south until she lands in Austin.  There she meets bartender Blue, who recognizes a kindred desperation in Tanya’s eyes and offers her a place to stay.  But things get a little crazy and it seems whatever Tanya’s running from might be catching up with her.  Blue proposes a solution—she and Tanya trade identities, and soon Tanya is on the run again as Debra Maze–new day, new name, new car, new hair color.  As she zigs and zags from town to town, desperately trying to outrun her past, she dons and discards identities at a dizzying pace.  

Throughout the novel, the reader is given glimpses of email correspondence between Jo (presumably Tanya/Debra in a former life) and someone named Ryan. Slowly we begin to build a picture of what might have led to her life on the run.  It all comes together in the end, but in a completely unexpected and satisfying way.  Divulging more would get into spoiler territory; suffice to say that this whirlwind of a novel is thoroughly engaging.

We’ve all seen those photos of “wanted” individuals, and I’ve often thought that it can’t be that hard to get lost.  Change your name, cut and color your hair, throw on some glasses and a hat—surely it can’t be that difficult to assume a new identity?  But living life without being true to yourself exacts its own price, and Lutz does an outstanding job of portraying the emotional cost of trying to erase who you really are.

I first became a fan of Lutz’s best-selling The Spellman Files series, the hilarious adventures of PI Isabel “Izzy” Spellman and her family’s investigation firm.  The Passenger is a new direction for Lutz, but she pulls off this dark psychological thriller with an assurance that promises more greatness to come.

You can find copies of The Passenger on our shelves and via

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