From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room, a powerful story about the ways an entire life can change in one night: A flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened.
Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police – she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home – Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?
Set amid the captivating world of those whose lives unfold at forty thousand feet, The Flight Attendant unveils a spellbinding story of memory, of the giddy pleasures of alcohol and the devastating consequences of addiction, and of murder far from home.
Much to my embarrassment I have not heard of this author prior to my perusal of the Edelweiss catalog in a quest for a captivating ARC, although I later came to know that plenty of his books have been well-received both by the readers as well as the critics. Noticing the theme-anticipating title The Flight Attendant was sufficient to make me take the plunge and click the ‘request’ button, considering that I have been nurturing an interest in the mystery/thriller novels focusing on the lives of those working as flight attendants or pilots as well as on a crime committed in an airplane ever since my reading experience of Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie, followed by The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve.
The Flight Attendant presents itself as a relatively straightforward and more traditional in nature mystery/thriller in that the reader is introduced to the murder scene from the very first chapter of the book. Furthermore, it does not take long to discover the identity of the culprit who assassinated the man with whom Cassandra, the main character the title refers to, had a one-night stand in Dubai. Hence, it is my opinion that the author did not attempt nor opt to write his book in the widely used ‘whodunit’ style, an aspect I personally found refreshing, but instead made the reason behind the crime the focal point of the novel along with the abounding and compelling characterization he crafted successfully. Through its protagonist, Cassie, the novel provides the reader with a detailed, thought-provoking, and credible description of the chaotic and disorganized lifestyle that results from the stewardess job. Cassandra’s life is illustrated as an amalgam of one-night stands, numerous being drunk experiences, and the faced difficulty in settling down and engaging. Bearing all this in mind, I was somewhat surprised at the end of the book as I had not foreseen the highly improbable twist the author would incorporate in the storyline in his endeavor to administer a last ounce of excitement and thrill.
I have stressed countless times that I hold in high regard the authors who put a significant amount of effort into researching those striking topics approached in their literary works and it is safe to say that Chris Bohjalian merits inclusion in this category. The Flight Attendant serves as an incontrovertible proof that he is well versed in the functioning of FBI, the life of a flight attendant, weaponry, and forensic medicine.
In terms of negatives, unfortunately, I did not consider the overall plot as addictive and engrossing as I would have expected taking into consideration the promising premise. One aspect I particularly disapproved of was the underdevelopment of the other character who was the focus of some of the chapters, because I thought that that subplot had potential and should have been more skilfully handled by the author.
That being said, I have mixed feelings for Chris Bohjalian’s upcoming publication, hence my 3.5-star rating. Considering the theme of the novel, namely the tumultuous life of a flight attendant, I believe thatThe Flight Attendant is a must-read for the mystery/thriller genres fans as well as those who have enjoyed Bohjalian’s previous works.
Special thanks go to Edelweiss and Doubleday for supplying me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.