Book Review: The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish
If the genders in this story were flipped, Jamie Buckby might well be called a gold-digger. At 48 he’s not-unhappily stuck in a menial service job as a barista, because he doesn’t have to work to get ahead. His girlfriend Clare is doubly blessed; the owner of a very valuable inherited property, she also has a high-powered career. Jamie’s just quietly coasting along without a real care in the world until Kit and his girlfriend Melia come along. In their late twenties, Kit and Melia are just barely getting started in life and already are on a downward spiral into a pit of debt due to an extravagant lifestyle. When Kit disappears, Jamie’s startled to find the finger of suspicion pointing in his direction. But as the story unfolds, it quickly becomes apparent that these suspicions aren’t unfounded, as Jamie slowly admits that maybe he’s not the all-around good bloke he’s portraying himself as.
It’s hard to find anyone in this story to like. Of the four principals, Clare is the only one who’s not actually prepared to do something criminal, but she’s also hard to empathize with because her inherited wealth makes her arrogant and oblivious to what the unprivileged majority have to face up to. And honestly… having her be the only not-awful person by the end of the story felt pretty elitist. Kit is an entitled brat, Melia’s even worse - especially with her choice to seduce and use Jamie - and Jamie, frankly, is a selfish idiot. He deserves exactly what he gets by the end of the story, though he, at least, has enough self-awareness to acknowledge it. All three of them are motivated by greed.
There are some interesting twists and turns here, but the problem I had was that with each reveal, I liked Jamie a little less. Starting to dislike the first-person protagonist of the book you’re reading makes it a hard slog to get to the end, no matter how clever and original the plot might be. I like the writing style but the story itself just didn’t really resonate with me; I couldn’t relate to any of the characters because in their shoes, I just wouldn’t have made their choices. I’ll give it four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.