The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been a fan of Chris Bohjalian for many years…I think possibly Midwives was the first one of his that I read. Anyway, he has written a ton of good books, many of which had unique characters, settings, or situations. In addition to Midwives, I especially liked The Sandcastle Girls because I learned so much about the Armenian genocide while reading an entertaining story…and The Guest Room was another fave, for its tension and suspense while dealing with a social issue (human trafficking).

Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley, I received a copy of The Flight Attendant in exchange for my honest review – and it was great fun to read despite the ick factor that is the first thing the reader encounters.

Cassandra Bowden, aka Cassie, wakes up one morning in a hotel room in Dubai, painfully hung over, in bed with a man she just met the night before. Neither of these is rare for Cassie, whose life as an international flight attendant consists of episodes of one-night stands and binge drinking between flights. The difference this time is that the man is dead, brutally murdered, and the bed and Cassie are covered in blood. ICK!!! Not only does Cassie not know all the circumstances of how she ended up there, she isn’t quite sure whether she was the one who killed Alex Sokolov. She remembers meeting him on the flight, flirting with him, then agreeing to go out on the town in Dubai…but she has a(nother) blackout episode (a recurring event for her) and kind of freaks out. So she does what she often does: she lies. To her crewmates, to the FBI, to pretty much everyone. As the plot unspools, there are many questions about both people (was he a spy? Is this related to Cassies’s brother-in-law whose high-level security clearance has something to do with weapons of mass destruction? Who was the other woman in the hotel room?) and events (who killed him? Can Cassie trust her fellow flight attendants?)

The book is told with the alternating points of view of Cassie and that mysterious other woman, interspersed with interview reports as Cassie and others are interviewed by the authorities. The building of suspense is terrific, and I really couldn’t go to sleep til I had finished it. As usual for me, I didn’t guess the ending in advance (although I did have concerns and suspicions early on as I learned Cassie was not only a liar but a thief, getting gifts for family from hotels around the world). I really liked it, even though I went into it with my usual bias toward Mr. Bohjalian, expecting to love it. It didn’t disappoint – five stars.

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