The Last Passenger by Will Dean

Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Last Passenger by Will Dean. It’s a very original thriller that isn’t going to earn him any credits with the cruise ship industry, but readers will love it. My thanks to publishers Hodder & Stoughton for the advance copy via Netgalley. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 11 May 2023
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

About the Book

A luxury cruise liner, abandoned with no crew, steaming into the mid-Atlantic.
And you are the only passenger left on board.

Caz Ripley, a cafe owner from a small, ordinary town, boards the RMS Atlantica with her boyfriend Pete and a thousand fellow passengers destined for New York.
The next morning, she wakes to discover that everyone else on board has disappeared.
And that’s just the beginning. Caz must prepare for a crossing that will be anything but plain sailing …

With the drama of The Woman in Cabin 10 and the tension of And Then There Were None , The Last Passenger is a psychological thriller set aboard a cruise ship about a woman whose seemingly ordinary life is suddenly thrown dramatically off course. Will Dean is The Master of Intense Suspense and this novel is full of his trademark twists and turns.

My Thoughts

Okay. So this will probably be a very short review. There is a reason that the blurb is really short. In essence, it’s actually only three lines long. It’s a very challenging book to talk about without giving away what would be crucial plot spoilers. Yes, this is a book about Caz Ripley. It’s told from her point of view. We learn all about Caz and her life, past and present. That I can tell you. And yes, Caz does wake up after her first night on board the Atlantica, an all singling all dancing ocean liner to find that all the singing and dancing is well and truly over as everyone, including her partner, Pete, have disappeared. No Captain, no crew, no passnegers and, perhaps more crucially, no way to communicate with the outside world. All Caz can see for miles in any direction is water. And that really is only the start of her problems … and the last I can really tell you about the plot of the book. Trust me. This is a book you do really need to read blind.

It’s also a book I can see dividing readers. It’s one of those books. If you like high concept thrillers, and perhaps can suspend disbelief a touch ins certain parts, then you will eat this book up. It is pacy, full of tension and threat, and you can feel the escalating anxiety and fear building with every hour that passes (in Ocean liner world that is – it really is an attention grabbing quick read). Character observations are spot on, as you would expect with a Will Dean story, and the way in which he is able to turn the ship, all opulence and grandeur on opening night, into an atmospheric, claustrophobic (in spite of it’s size) kind of hell, is pitched perfectly. It’s like a floating prison, only with a casino, piano and jeweller, none of which will be of the remotest use to Caz in her waking nightmare.

In the early stages of the book I did have a kind of feeling about the course of the book which, like the course of the ship at varying times along the voyage, was way off course. When the reveal comes it is something that starts to make a whole lot of sense and, whilst perhaps exaggerated to a very high extent, is so incredibly in tune with modern society that it takes on an air of worrying plausibility. Unfortunately I can’t actually say why, but if anyone has read the book and wants to talk about it, please drop me a line.

Clever, intense and more than occasionally creepy, Will Dean fans will eat this up. A complete departure from the Tuva series, but with some of that underlying, pulsating tension that the author excels at. Not sure if it has made me more or less likely to go on a cruise. Certainly the idea of there being nobody else on board is appealing (provided I can keep at least a Captain and maybe a few select crew …) as cruises always strike me as being far too peopley. Not sure I’d want to take isolation quite this far mind, but then never say never, right?

About the Author

Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands and had lived in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying Law at the LSE and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden where he built a house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes. His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize and named a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year. Red Snow was published in January 2019 and won Best Independent Voice at the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards, 2019. Black River was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Award in 2021. The Last Thing to Burn was released to widespread acclaim in January 2021. First Born was published in 2022. 

5 thoughts on “The Last Passenger by Will Dean

  1. My NG request has been pending since early March. And I’m clearly not on the blog tour. Man, I miss Jenny Platt.

    Anyhoot, excellent review. Has made the odds I’d ever go on a cruise less than zero. Never mind all the peopley people. Water! Everywhere! Eek!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not on the tour either. No idea who organises anything these days lol. I have only a few people who know who I am so always surprised to hear from anyone who isn’t Anne or Tracy haha.

      Yeah – based on this book, I’m not sure cruising for me, although I do think an abandoned boat would be better than one full of people. Maybe 🤔 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. It’s probably because I’m trying to be more proactive sharing what I’m reading at point of reading. I’m pretty useless at it still and confuse even myself but I’m trying lol

        Liked by 1 person

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