The Other Passenger (Louise Candlish) – book review

Wanting what others have fast becomes a fatal obsession in The Other Passenger.  Whether that be your job, your house, your bank balance or your relationships, perhaps there is always someone in your circle of friends and acquaintances who feels that for you in particular, it all came a bit too easy.

Unable to cope with the suffocating commute that is the London underground, Jamie has been instead working nine hours a day at a café not far from the Thames.  For a man in his late forties, it’s a bit of a step down from his previous corporate position, but as time goes on, Jamie is beginning to find the pleasure in the simple things.

Girlfriend Clare works in real estate and the pair live in a gorgeous London home, thanks to the generosity of Clare’s parents.   Jamie knows that Clare has the position of power in the relationship, but it has never really been a problem between then.  Clare introduces Jamie to Kit and Melia, a millennial couple who are barely scraping by, despite the two of them both holding down solid full time jobs.

Kit is magnetic, one of those people who draws all into his orbit, but there’s a dark side to him as well.  The resentment Kit obviously feels for anyone who is doing better than him, whether that’s due to hard work or good luck, makes itself apparent to Clare and Jamie who being older, have little patience for those who constantly complain.  At first when Jamie begins to catch the ferry every day to work, it seems like the obvious solution to save him from any more embarrassing panic attacks on the underground.  Traveling every day with Kit and another two commuters, the four form an informal little club called The Water Rats.  As the relationships begin to splinter off and entangle, Jamie is lost in the arms of his new obsession.  He is the obvious suspect when Kit goes missing.

The Other Passenger is an absorbing thriller packed with the murderous intentions of the newly discontent. As with her prior works, British author Louise Candlish excels in writing characters that are standing at the crossroads of making monumental life choices. Will they walk away and continue with their safe lives, or will they take a chance, knowing that their future happiness will come at such a high cost to someone else?

The dangers of wanting to change your life and relationships by scuttling everything that came before and the thrills of beginning something new are quandaries thoughtfully explored in The Other Passenger.  It’s a testament to the work put into building fully realized characters that the objections to personal accountability we encounter here seem quite reasonable.

The two couples are not trussed up as odious, self serving Londoners who can’t afford to live in their expensive city of choice.  They are instead two couples who would have been a lot better off if they had never met.

A surprisingly intense thriller with many moving parts, The Other Passenger is published by Simon & Schuster Australia.

Andy Thompson

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