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?Summary from Goodreads
Chris Bohjalian weaves an introspective narrative through a fast-paced murder mystery/spy thriller that catapults the reader into the life of Cassie Bowden, flight attendant and notorious black out drunk.
The last part is one of the reason I tend to veer away from novels that feature characters like Cassie. I often find the story to be sad or depressing, and the way most authors handle addiction to either be melodramatic and overwrought or overly analytical.
Not so with The Flight Attendant.
Not only does Bohjalian write of alcoholism with deft compassion, he also paints Cassie – an every other character in the novel – with a humanizing and authentic brush. Even the most wild of Cassie escapades was made relatable; to me, as a reader, I related to them on an emotional level and recognized in myself Cassies’ own heartache and reasoning for her actions.
This is alongside a fast-paced plot that escalates with each chapter. Without giving the twists away, with each new revelation I found myself saying, “Oh, so it can get worse!”, and honestly, that’s the best kind of thriller.
I am definitely a new fan of Chris Bohjalian, and will be picking up his other books to enjoy.
Content Note: Mentions of graphic sex, some graphic blood imagery, and some violence. Mentions of situations that are similar to date rape. Some harsh language. Could be triggering to those struggling with alcoholism.