By Ekta R. Garg
July 21, 2021
Release date: July 20, 2021
Rated: Bordering on Bookmarking it! / 3.5 stars
A man becomes a person of interest when his friend goes missing. He tries to balance his secrets with his own suspicions of what happened but gets the sense that a bigger game is at play. Author Louise Candlish takes just a touch too long to ramp up the mystery but keeps it rolling once it gets moving in her latest book The Other Passenger.
Jamie Buckby has made an amazing discovery: he can take the ferry to work and bypass the complicated tube system that runs under London. At one time, taking the tube was just another part of his day as he traveled to his white-collar job in security. Then he had a panic attack during his commute one day, and everything changed.
Now Jamie works at a coffee shop in Central London, which is quite the distance from his posh house in the suburbs. Well, not exactly his house; the deed says his girlfriend, Clare, owns it. But he and Clare have been together for more than a decade in a committed relationship. It’s not “Clare’s house” or “the place he lives”; it’s home.
It’s also the object of envy of Kit and Melia Roper. Gorgeous twenty-something Melia gets hired at Clare’s real estate company and Kit works in insurance, a job he complains about all the time. Kit thinks he’s too vibrant and interesting for the insurance world. Still, it’s a paycheck, and no one can turn that down.
Kit and Jamie start commuting on the ferry together and over time they become friends, or so Jamie thinks. Kit tends to be moody. Sometimes he’s chatty, other times not. Jamie hasn’t quite got a bead on him yet, other than the fact that Kit fulfills the stereotype of millennials with his attitude that he shouldn’t have to work so hard for the good things in life.
Melia, on the other hand, is a refreshing change for Jamie. So refreshing, in fact, that when they have an affair, he doesn’t fight it. Yes, he has Clare and a nice home to live in, but the house doesn’t even belong to him and Clare is constantly nagging him to improve his career prospects. Melia just wants him, nothing more.
Then Kit goes missing. The police don’t have enough information to arrest Jamie or even to file a formal report yet. Yet they keep hinting that another passenger on the ferry saw something to put Jamie on their radar.
Clare doesn’t know about Jamie and Melia, of course, and Jamie would prefer to keep it that way. But the entire situation with Kit sounds fishy. Then his problems get much bigger than trying to hide his mistress from his long-time girlfriend.
Author Louise Candlish takes her time building the story, which might leave some readers a little antsy. With the entire book told in first person, readers will spend a lot of time inside Jamie’s head with his own opinions and observations. The point-of-view choice slows down the narrative, and it keeps readers at arm’s length for the first half.
Once Candlish reveals one major plot point, however, the rest start lining up like bowling pins. Candlish knocks them out at a steady, even pace, and readers will have a lot of fun watching Jamie try to squirm out of the mess he’s created. Even with some events out of his control, he’s definitely responsible for his own actions. How those actions connect to the larger story at hand comprises the second half of the book, and Candlish uses a practiced hand to strike when readers least expect.
Jamie’s mid-forty-something self rings true to readers who fall into that age range. It’s easy to sympathize with his desire for more while also his hesitation to work for it. The greatest irony comes in how often Jamie blames Kit for self-aggrandizement when he does exactly the same, only with a few more gray hairs.
Readers who don’t mind being a little patient for the main part of the story to start moving forward will enjoy this one. I recommend that The Other Passenger Borders on Bookmarking it!