Tanya Dubois comes home one day to find her husband dead at the bottom of their stairs. Rather than call the police, Tanya takes off, for she knows that if the police start digging into her past they will find that her name is not Tanya. And she has left behind a past that can never be brought to light. She crisscrosses the country and with every new state she finds a new identity, trying to out run her past and her memories. In her journeys she comes across a woman, Blue, who is running from her own past. Blue steps up to help Tanya/Debra/Jane, but at what cost? Tanya is just a passenger when Blue takes things to an extreme that makes her extremely uncomfortable and desperate to get as far away from Blue as possible. She continues her journey across country and encounters some other people less deadly than Blue, but just as unique. But it isn't until she is almost recognized by a nosy nellie that she decides maybe it is time to face her past. Will going home set her free or will it be move that ultimately destroys her?
The Passenger was the first book I read on our vacation and I finished it before we even got to our cruise ship. From the first page the reader is hooked in this weird journey the main character is on. It takes a while for the reader to trust Tanya. At first I wondered if she had killed her husband, but then you start to realize that while she may not have killed her husband, she isn't exactly innocent. But it isn't until the end of the book before you realize what exactly why she was running. Then Tanya meets Blue. Blue was one of those characters that you want to believe was goodhearted, especially the way she jumped in to help Tanya, but holy cow, she came with more trouble than she was worth. It was almost too much trouble to seem believable, but it was kind of necessary to keep the main character moving. She covers a lot of ground and finds herself in some precarious situations, but it was when she was poaching at a cabin in the East that she decides that she has a line in the sand that she isn't willing to cross. By that point I was invested in the story that I wanted to see what happened when she went home, not to where her husband lived, but the home she left as a teenager. I admit that it was not as sinister as I had thought, but I understand her need to "run."
Bottom line - In The Passenger Lisa Lutz deviates from her usually silly mysteries to write something a little more grittier than usual. The language and violence is some of what makes the story so gritty and so hard to put down.