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by Chris Bohjalian
Doubleday , March 2018
368 pages
ISBN: 0385542410

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Cassie Bowden, the flight attendant in Chris Bohjalian's latest novel, leads such a dissolute life that it's hard to imagine how she can manage her job. Every chance she gets, she drinks to a blackout state, sleeps with whatever man happens to be handy, and makes disastrous decisions. At the start of this book, her latest disastrous decision results in her waking up covered with the blood of the dead man beside her and with no memory of how he died. Was she responsible for his death she doesn't think so, but she really couldn't say for certain. Her decision about how to react to this situation is true to character, as she avoids doing anything other than running from the posh hotel room in Dubai and back to her plane to the U.S.

Since she met the dead man, Alex, when he was very much alive and a passenger on the plane to Dubai, she is interviewed by FBI agents who seem much more concerned about what he might have discussed with her than they are about his death. Cassie has a brother-in-law who is involved in the top-secret destruction of nerve gas, and since there is some sort of concern that Alex may have been involved in Russian spying, this makes Cassie a person of interest. And, of course, flying all over the world puts her in a perfect profession to be a courier. But whatever Alex might have been, Cassie is no spy. She is just a woman who makes poor decisions with great frequency.

Much of the book is told from Cassie's confused perspective, while other sections are told from the perspective of Alex's killer. These sections fill in the gaps as to why the FBI (or is it CIA, Cassie is not so sure) is so interested in the case. Cassie's lifestyle is captivatingly fascinating, and it is hard to put the book down because of the potential train wreck that seems to be just around every corner. Bohjalian has created a character in Cassie that is compelling, if not sympathetic. The killer is equally gripping, but likewise not anyone you'd truly like to spend time with. The twists that tie the plot together are classic Bohjalian, and the descriptions of the locations to which Cassie travels add to the reading experience.

In the end, everything comes together in a nice neat package. Perhaps it happens too quickly and is a bit too neat, but it does make sense and the reader will come away from the book with a reassuring sense of closure.

Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in rural Wyoming.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, February 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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