THE OTHER PASSENGER by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster, July 2020)
Louise Candlish’s latest novel The Other Passenger is a twisty tale of duplicity, greed and potentially murder.
The ‘water rats’ are four travelling companions who catch a riverboat down the Thames each day to their various jobs in the heart of London. The journey on the morning after the Christmas break is the same as always, apart from the unexpected absence of the youngest member of the four, the hedonistic Kit. Everyone assumes that Kit is recovering from a bout of
over-indulgence, but when James Buckby disembarks from the ferry he is met by two policemen who want to question him about Kit’s disappearance. Kit’s attractive young wife, Melia, has reported him as being missing and it seems that no one has seen Kit since the drunken ‘water rats’ get together on Christmas Eve. The last sighting of Kit was when he left the boat with James, after the pair had been involved in a heated disagreement. The police are beginning to fear for Kit’s life and James is their prime suspect.
Seen solely through James’ eyes, The Other Passenger is a clever, surprising tale that gradually peels back its layers to reveal what really happened on the night of Kit’s disappearance. At first James seems to be innocent of any involvement, but as he reflects on the events over the twelve months leading up to the drunken drinks his innocence becomes less clear. Alternating between flashbacks and James’ own attempts in the present to find out what happened to Kit, the book unfolds with clockwork precision and a good deal of suspense and uncertainty.
This combination of domestic suspense and ‘Hitchcockian’ crime, as told by a potentially unreliable narrator, quickly grabs the reader’s attention and holds onto it all the way to the unexpected ending. Some elements will be familiar to readers of classic crime novels, but Candlish gives them her own special twist and delivers a neat denouement.
In addition to its meticulous plotting, The Other Passenger also impresses with its astute characterisations and reflections on the tensions between competing generations. Candlish excels in her ability to capture easily recognisable types and flesh them out into characters of real substance. The dialogue is convincing and occasionally witty and the descriptions of London and the Thames are also evocative and enjoyable.
In all, The Other Passenger is a very enjoyable tale of suspense that makes for ideal reading for the regular commute or any long trip.
Four stars out of five!
The Other Passenger will released in Australia by Simon & Schuster on
8 July 2020 and in the United Kingdom on 25 June 2020.
Thanks to the Canberra Weekly and Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy of the book.