The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian – 368 pages
ARC from NetGalley and Doubleday
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, already 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?
My Review: 4 stars
The Flight Attendant is another unique thriller by Chris Bohjalian that sucked me right in from the start. This story was an exciting, yet slow-building burn. It emphasized characters in a way that the action of the plot seemed almost secondary. I was never on the edge of my seat, or lounge chair by the pool in this case, but by the end of the story, I was completely invested in this intricate mystery and had to find out who the culprit was.
Told in the alternating point of views of Cassie and Elena, who both share their sides of the story after the murder in question was committed, added a distinctive twist. With that said, we heard from Cassie much more than from Eleana. As a narrator, Cassie was ostensibly unlikable and unreliable. She was shallow, out of control with her drinking and seemed to keep digging herself into more problems than necessary. Thankfully, Bohjalian carefully balanced the line between unrealistic while possibly feasible.
The research the author did for this novel was impressive, and added a level of authenticity. I didn’t know a lot about the intricacies of airlines and flight attendants, including the details of flight routes, what goes on in between flights, flight bidding, etc. The complicated nature of international murder, which included the legalities of foreign laws, domestic laws and their many protocols, was a much-appreciated addition to the novel.
My only and very minor complaint about the story would be the epilogue. Throughout the entire novel you don’t feel as if Cassie has learned anything or experienced much character growth at all. So when you read the epilogue, it feels as if it belongs in a different book, with a different main character.