- Book: The Other Passenger
- Location: East London, London
- Author: Louise Candlish
Have you ever travelled by river bus in London? Well, it seems like a jolly pleasant way to get around city, assuming your stop is along the Thames. Jamie and Clare live in fictional Prospect Square in a Georgian town house, not far from the fictional St Mary’s stop on the route. And here is the first rub for them as a couple. They have been together for 10 years, and he, at some level, feels like a lodger, as Clare owns the house, or at least her parents do. He also works at a café near Waterloo which Clare deems well below his capability level. It is an unbalanced relationship from the start, but it seems to work, and who knows the ins and outs of any adult intimate relationship.
They meet Kit and Melia, shortened to Me, an early indication that she might be of the Me, Me generation – in other words, she seems to have quite a few narcissistic tendencies. This couple is also considerably younger. They all rub along quite nicely; it’s fun, it’s entertaining and then.. it’s game on for marital discord. One of the couple friendship fits seems to be that Clare and Jamie are the older, more parental couple, the more responsible and the more moneyed. The older couple is flattered that such a young, artsy and sassy couple should want to befriend them.
It transpires that Kit commutes on the same river bus as Jamie and gradually, throughout 2019, there is a regular group of four commuters who plough in and out of town. They drink in the licensed bar (on the river boat there is a bar, as well as white leather seats, it’s £1500 an annual pop for a season ticket) and in the early days the commuters take in the marvels of the Thames and the buildings as they speed past. Alcohol consumption goes up and Kit dabbles in drugs (‘dabbles’ isn’t perhaps the right word!). It all starts to feel quite precarious and certainly the couple dynamics start to falter and go awry. Pivotal, though is a pre-Christmas bust up on the boat between Kit and Jamie. Quite where this will all end is anyone’s guess and delightfully, there are quite a few well managed twists and turns. The author is really adept at laying out the progression of her storyline, so that it flows really well; it has a good dose of unpredictability and there are no ends left untied.
Observation (both of people and place), coupled with a good level of suspense makes this an immersive, nerve tingling read. I enjoyed the occasional dark humour and found myself wrapped up in the storyline, in London, and unwilling to come back to sobering, Covid reality.
Do you love a good story, well told and a great setting? Then The Other Passenger comes highly recommended.