Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: The Flight Attendant

Summary: 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. -- Doubleday

I think I'm in a bit of a reading funk. I have read a lot of good books lately, but none that I have loved. Case in point -- THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT by Chris Bohjalian. I had high hopes for this thriller because I'm a huge fan of Mr. Bohjalian's novels; however, I only thought the thriller/suspense aspect of the story was okay. I mean, I certainly enjoyed this book and I do appreciate his writing and character development. I just didn't love the book like I had hoped.

THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT is about Cassie, a flight attendant who takes full advantage of her traveling schedule and the men she meets. She is quite the drinker and prone to blackouts, but she usually manages to keep her job and life somewhat in check. However during a one-night layover in Dubai, she gets more than she expected when she hooks up with Alex, a financial analyst and one of the first-class passengers.

After a night of partying, Cassie wakes up the next to Alex... but Alex is dead with his throat slashed. She realizes that she drank too much the night before and blacked out, but she honestly can't remember what happened. After a visit from a woman she remembers as Miranda, Cassie thought she left. How in the world did she end up back in bed with him? How did she sleep through his murder? Or worse yet, was she responsible for killing him?

Cassie is afraid to call the police, so she cleans up the room as best she can, wiping down surfaces she touched, and heads back to her hotel to catch the shuttle back to the airport. When her co-workers asked what she did last night, she begins with a small lie. This small lie soon turns into more and more lies, and Cassie finds herself lying to everyone... including the FBI. Can Cassie find out the truth before something even worse happens?

I actually loved the premise of THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT, and I thought the book had great potential. Cassie was an extremely interesting character, and I liked the suspense of not knowing what happened in that Dubai hotel room. In fact, the book quickly lured me in and I was caught up in her story. I had a feeling that Alex's death had something to do with Russia spies, but I had no idea where the book was going to go.

However after a few chapters, I found that Cassie was starting to annoy me with her weaknesses. She drank entirely too much, often times blacking out; and she was quick to go to bed with strange men. Her lies were often times unnecessary (or at least I thought they were), and her decision-making was horrific. She was so self-destructive that I probably should have felt pity for her, but I wanted to shake some sense into her!

Without giving away too much, I thought the story behind the murder was intriguing. It involved another complicated woman with an interesting past. Miranda/Elena was a Russian who was tasked with killing Alex... and she should have killed Cassie too. Her boss wasn't to happy with her for not finishing the job, and she was tasked with making things right. While the author tried to make Elena a somewhat sympathetic character, I still wanted a bit more from her character.

As the novel progressed, I will admit that there were times when I almost liked Cassie and was rooting for her. She really was a pitiful character. I never really thought she was responsible for Alex's murder, but I was hoping that her blackout might serve as a wake-up call and make her change her ways. It seemed like Cassie had to hit rock bottom before she could own her mistakes, but eventually she did redeem herself.

Honestly, I think the strength of the novel was more Cassie's character development that the actual suspense/thriller part of the story; however, I still enjoyed the ride. Recommended to fans of Mr. Bohjalian's books and readers who like a good literary thriller.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


techeditor said...

I read this book, too. I thought it was a riveting literary thriller.

Granted , Cassandra, the flight attendant, sleeps around with strange men, and she is a raging alcoholic. She disgusts even hersèlf. B

Although Cassandra is an unsympathetic character, she does redeem herself in my eyes. She cares for cats in an animal shelter every chance she gets. Besides that, she watches reruns of "The Big Bang theory ."

bermudaonion said...

I do like Bohjalian's writing a lot so I'll give this a try, even if it's not his best.