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Publisher's Summary

A gripping psychological thriller set on high seas. A transatlantic crossing that becomes a nightmare.

With no police to investigate and no escape, could it be the perfect setting for a crime? Martin Schwartz (Beesley) is an undercover detective who is recovering from his wife and sons' bizarre disappearance from a cruise ship 5 years ago. He is a desperate man willing to take big risks. Martin never wanted to step onto a cruise ship again until he receives a call which can't be ignored. On average, 23 people per year disappear without a trace from cruise ships. Never before has someone come back... until now.

Please note: This title contains explicit language.

©2014 Sebastian Fitzek (P)2015 Audible Ltd.

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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a solid thriller if you don't think too hard

About 23 people disappear from the world’s cruise ships every year. Ship owners have a considerable interest in keeping these disappearances under wraps and tend to describe those that come to light as suicides, whether there is evidence of a suicide or not. That's the basis for Fitzek's latest thriller.

Five years ago, undercover detective Martin Schwartz lost his wife and son to such a disappearance on board a cruise ship. Now a shell of a man with nothing to loose, he agrees to meet a wacky elderly woman on board that same ship. She maintains there is something far more sinister going on as children and their mothers have gone missing regularly over the years. As Schwartz starts to look into this mystery, one of the missing children reappears on board the ship.

I've been an avid reader of Sebastian Fitzek's books for years, but this was my first experience of listening to the translated version of one of his books. While it kept my attention throughout, I don't feel that Passenger 23 was one of his best. It was suspenseful and did have the typical Fitzek twists and turns that are totally unpredictable, but it didn't mess with my head as much as some of his other psychological thrillers did.

The book (like most of his) should come with a warning. Fitzek likes to shock, and the gruesome details and disturbing themes will not appeal to everyone. Passenger 23 deals with the sexual abuse of children and is rather hard hitting in its description of physical acts of violence and sexual abuse.

There are intermittent sound effects throughout and music in between chapters. The sound effects were ok though I didn't really feel they added much to the story. The music IMHO was trashy. It reminded me of very old films where the music is supposed to create suspense.

Narration was very good. The voice artist narrating the story was a little too rigid and formal, but the narrators portraying the main characters brought life to the story.

Beware there is an epilogue that, oddly, is after the production credits, so don't miss it as it explains one part of the story from right at the beginning of the book.

Overall, a solid thriller if you don't think too hard about how realistic this plot is and are willing to believe the unbelievable for a few hours of dramatic listening.

Audiobook was provided for review the publisher.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

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40 of 45 people found this review helpful

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BIZARR-O!

Would you try another book from Sebastian Fitzek and/or the narrators?

I'm not sure. This was very unusual, to say the least.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No. There were too many sub-plots and people to keep track of

Any additional comments?

Remember years ago when we rented VHS movies from a store? And you got home, started watching the movie and realized someone put the wrong movie into the VHS jacket? That's what this reminded me of. For the first 45 minutes, I thought I had bought the wrong book because there wasn't anything about cruise ships in that part. I never fully warmed up to the story but kept listening out of morbid curiosity. And there was a lot of morbid stuff going on in this book. I didn't hate it, didn't love it, but there are a whole lot other books out there that I wish I'd spent my time and credits on. In a word, it was 'weird.'

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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What's with the effects

Would you try another book from Sebastian Fitzek and/or the narrators?

NO

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

The plot was actually very good

How could the performance have been better?

Without the effects and myriad of narrators

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

dissaapointed

Any additional comments?

I will try not to order any similarly narrated books

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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ugh

Terrible sound effects AND a terrible book.......time I will never get back. Would not reccomend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • Cary, NC
  • 03-16-16

Great performance of a truly despicable story

Despite being a decent thriller and performed by a phenomenal cast, the underlying "evil" in the primary story line is so despicable that I found it difficult to continue through. A slightly less horrific storyline would have been preferred by this reader.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Story content

The story can be somewhat difficult to follow at times. It becomes much clearer in last 15 minutes.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Captivating

Passenger 23 has so many twists and subplots. I couldn't wait to get back to the audio when ever I had to stop. Every who done it question you could have was answered by a surprise.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Are you sure you want to book that cruise?

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The best thing about this book is the premise: mysterious disappearances at sea, the lack of competent investigatory resources; the cruise ship owners' powerful motivations to cover up the situation.

Would you recommend Passenger 23 to your friends? Why or why not?

I wouldn't especially recommend this book, because the author goes into too much grisly detail (listeners' imaginations are always worse than whatever far-fetched torture methods writers come up with). Also, there's a huge plot hole (spoiler alert: all the mother-child victims "won" their cruises in an online contest they don't remember. The authorities wouldn't pick up on that? Even semi-competent ones??). Finally, we get into really unbelievable territory with the opening scene where a man's healthy leg is being amputated, the significance of which isn't explained until an epilog, which, BTW, comes after the credits, so many people are likely to miss.

Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

The main narrator was a bit heavy for the content; the other actors were fine, but since they're only used for dialog and there wasn't much, their voices felt intrusive. And I didn't think the sound effects were more than distracting. They were OK when used for atmosphere, but not when relevant to the plot--footsteps, doors slamming, and the like. It's the difference between a sentence that reads (in a straight narration), “He ran up the stairs to the fifth deck and arrived panting. ‘Where is she?!’ he asked” versus “He ran up the stairs to the fifth deck. ‘(pant, pant, pant) Where is she?!’” A fast-moving thriller contains a surprising amount of panting and shrieking.

Do you think Passenger 23 needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

There doesn't need to be a followup, because the main character has resolved his personal mystery, which was his principal motivation.

Any additional comments?

Thriller writers need to find other ways to engage readers than over-the-top gruesome violence (especially against women) that destroys credibility. That worked for a while, but now has become such a cliche of the genre that it's silly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Compelling presentation wasted on this thriller

Passenger 23 is a thriller about people who represent the insidious,self serving components of society: A slight counterbalance is offered by the desperate, emotionally destroyed hero who is compelled by values of decency and capable of self sacrifice. But he is pretty much alone in this human soup.

There are mysteries to be solved that become increasingly complicated and contorted as the hours pass. At the end, the explanations become drawn out endeavor to hold the story line together.

So why did I finish it, despite my finger frequently moving towards the stop and delete buttons.

Well, for a start, I enjoy listening to the narrator, Robert Glenister .
The acting was professional and the audio mixing, the use of music and sound effects seamless and effective.

But I would enjoy presentations of this calibre in works that do not focus on the depraved, the cruel and the deceptive.

For me Passenger 23 was characterised by a yawning gap between the quality of the audio presentation and that of the subject matter.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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The first Audible Original I've Really Enjoyed!

Great story, fine performances, super production qualities. Well done,Audible! Until now it's been a disappointing series of releases - here's hoping you're now hitting your stride.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • lynsey
  • 12-22-15

Really Interesting stuff!!!

This is not going to be for everybody by any means. Its not a run of the mill thriller and it is quite uncomfortable at some points but this is just that kind of story and if you do enjoy cruise ships then this may give you pause for thought!!
I listened to this all the way through in one session and am glad I did. I would say it was more along the lines of a horror/ mystery type of drama and on the whole I loved it. If you relish something a little different and you like something to keep you guessing then give it a go. The production, narration and acting is very sound . Out of the three productions that Sebastian Fitzek has written this has been the one I have enjoyed the most. For me it left a few things unanswered but I definitely believe its worth a credit although it may have put me off cruises for life.................but I would guess that is a plus for Sebastian Fitzek.

30 of 33 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs F.
  • 02-02-16

Very disappointed

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If I had had some warning of the graphic descriptions of child sex abuse I would not have purchased this book. Stopped half way through there should be a warning that should not be listened to within earshot of children.

76 of 89 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 01-26-16

different - but we'll worth a listen

I wasn't sure if this was worth the investment after reading the mixed bag of reviews. However. after thoroughly enjoying the story and the additional suspense the different narration style delivered, I'm glad I did. No harm in broadening your horizons!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr
  • 05-06-16

Horrible story

I'm unsure why I went on listening- it's horrible and upsetting
The actor read well

26 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon
  • 12-26-15

Gripping storyline

Very good storyline, very good cast. I didn't like the extremely long musical pause's between chapters, I understand it was to build suspense, but it was too long! Otherwise a very good listen.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Sandy
  • 04-05-16

Should have a trigger warning

Would you try another book written by Sebastian Fitzek or narrated by the narrators?

The acting was not at fault. I would not pick up or listen to another book by Sebastian Fitzek any time soon. I like a good crime novel, but I don't like graphic descriptions of crime.

What was most disappointing about Sebastian Fitzek’s story?

I loved listening to Six Degrees of Assassination and made the mistake of assuming Passenger 23 would be similar. It's not. From that viewpoint the mistake is mine as although both are Audible dramas, they're by different writers. <br/><br/>The only thing I can liken it to is the last book of the Silence of the Lambs trilogy where they dine on a living man's brain. That was sickening, yet I felt obliged to read to the end. This too was sickening, but I don't feel obliged to get my money's worth by continuing to listen. I wish I had read the reviews instead of assuming it'd be as good as Six Degrees of Assassination because the descriptions left me utterly nauseated. A warning of 'explicit language' is not good enough, Audible. For those who have experienced abuse this is genuinely triggering and there should be some sort of warning, or it should at least be implied in the description.

Did the narrators do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

What I heard was a good standard of acting, but I did not listen for long.

What character would you cut from Passenger 23?

I'd cut the author, personally, but... please, Audible, could you not include some sort of warning so that I, and others who have experienced the life-long effects of abuse, can choose to avoid it?

Any additional comments?

Yuk yuk yuk. Thanks for that, Audible :-(

46 of 54 people found this review helpful

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  • Pippa
  • 03-26-16

Probably just me, but I found it upsetting

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No. I found the graphic descriptions unpleasant - probably my own squeamishness, but it stopped me from enjoying what I otherwise felt was a gripping story. Sorry. The narrator was good.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I didn't read to the end (I think I finished about quarter of the way in)

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Kiara
  • 04-30-16

Horrible

Would you try another book written by Sebastian Fitzek or narrated by the narrators?

Horrible story. Not as expected.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No.

Any additional comments?

The description of the book's story needs to be more detailed. At present there is no mention of the nasty sub plot. Would not have wasted my time had I known.

28 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • MR J FEINMESSER
  • 02-21-16

Very poor

Story is awful - hardly believable. Don't bother downloading and save yourself the waste of time.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • The Book Thief
  • 12-27-15

Amazing book!

If you could sum up Passenger 23 in three words, what would they be?

Absolutely loved this book! It is read wonderfully by all the participants and is full of suspense. Listening to this has definitely turned me on to the author and I will check out his other books immediately - it kept me entranced right to the bitter end. A true thriller!!!

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Darin
  • 01-06-16

not for me

got lost too often. bit too crazy and story was a liite nuts for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • @GlobalCrimeFict
  • 03-04-16

nasty

Really nasty stuff - I can't listen to this sort of brutal story.. can't understand how people even imagine it.

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  • Grace
  • 01-07-16

Very addictive!

the only bad thing I have to say was the long pauses were quite frustrating. I think that was probably their intention to make you captivated. a really great listen