#TheOtherPassenger #NetGalley #SimonandSchuster
I’ve started to think of Louise Candlish as one of my ‘go to’ authors for classy thrillers with unexpected twists. As always she drew me in with the characters, but at first I wasn’t quite feeling it. I was curious, but I found myself waiting for something to happen. Then there was a moment – if you’ve read it you’ll know where I mean – where everything changed and I realised everything I thought I knew about a character was wrong! After that I had to keep reading, and I kept reading till I finished at 3.20am precisely.
Our narrator is Jamie Buckby, who lives with his partner Clare in a beautiful home near the River Thames. Clare is a partner in an estate agency and Jamie.. well, Jamie is between jobs at the moment. After an incident on the tube made him infamous, he is working as a barista in a small, independent coffee house. Since the tube incident, Jamie has been commuting to work on the riverboat. Open air, a beautiful view of the city and a great way to relax on your way to work. Also, passengers aren’t crammed in like sardines, sweating in the heat, stuck in a tunnel, panicking and pulling the emergency cord. Anyway, the book begins in that weird week begin Christmas and New Year when two detectives meet Jamie off the boat before work. They’re concerned about the whereabouts of one of Jamie’s fellow passengers, Kit. However, Kit isn’t simply a fellow passenger. Clare and Jamie have been together a while and felt in need of some excitement, so invited one of Clare’s new employees and her partner over for drinks. Melia and Kit are young, attractive and have that hint of danger. They drink, but also dabble in a bit of coke. Melia is stunningly beautiful and on one evening in Clare and Jamie’s kitchen, she corners Jamie and says she finds him attractive. Jamie is twice her age at 50 years old and very flattered, but has a lot to loose. Not only his long standing relationship with Clare, but everything that comes with it – her family, her financial support, and the large Georgian house with communal garden that they share, but Clare owns. Will he be tempted to risk everything?
The book’s structure brings us back and forth, to the Christmas week and Kit’s disappearance, then back into the past few months and what’s really been going on in plain sight and in secret. Then, just when I was starting to get a handle on what’s really happened, Candlish pulled the rug right out from under me! Then I had to reevaluate everything I’d read before.
I love books that surprise me. Especially when I’ve become very invested in the story and have started running up my own theories on what’s going on. I became very interested in Jamie’s partner Clare. To some degree she has led a very privileged lifestyle both in London and back in her family’s home in Edinburgh. However, she has been a great partner for James and has supported him through the tube incident, his period not earning and even further into the novel as the questioning about Kit’s disappearance becomes more focused on James. Her strength and dignity shows when she still firmly supports him, despite their relationship being on shaky ground at times. Meanwhile, Melia is a master manipulator and actress – I will never trust anyone who’s performed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This is not just a book about being deceived though. This book is about self-deception. About thinking you can party like twenty year olds when you’re middle-aged. About ignoring the reality of your situation, your finances, the roof over your head. About ignoring the reality of how attractive and how desirable you are. It was great to read a book where the women have all the power, whether it’s because they’re young, smart and beautiful, or whether they’re classy, wealthy and dignified. Even the seemingly quiet, unassuming, riverboat passenger Gretchen, has some tasty secrets of her own. This is a very taut, well-written thriller, that is difficult to put down and even harder to second guess.