Running away from your problems isn’t the best option. Plenty of people, real and imagined, have tried and failed. The problems, however serious or minute they may be, always seem to catch up with them in the end.
No one apparently told that to Tanya/Amelia/Debra/Emma/Sonia/Paige/Jo/Nora, the narrator in The Passenger, the latest thrilling novel from Lisa Lutz, an Edgar Award nominee and the New York Times bestselling author of the Spellman Files series. Try as she might, Lutz’s “gone girl” sheds one identity for another in rapid succession, hoping to find one that will stick and offer her a chance to begin again. Part of the fun of the novel is trying to figure out who she really is.
Unfortunately for Lutz’s main character, her past secrets and misdeeds constantly nip at her heels. Just when it appears she’s about to find some semblance of peace, something or someone threatens to undo everything and expose her. Whether it’s a flimsy backstory, a forged driver’s license or a persistent detective on her trail, before long, she’s on the run again.
Admit it—we’ve all wanted a chance for a do-over at some point in our lives. Readers will know the choices the protagonist is making are wrong, but the thrill of the chase, and perhaps the promise of it all crashing down in the end, will keep them turning the pages and rooting for her just the same. That’s a credit to Lutz’s deft storytelling, as she’s able to goad readers into sympathizing with her narrator while baiting them with just enough clues to foster doubt in her truthfulness. After all, and as Lutz’s narrator points out right from the outset, “I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it.”