Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian


The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian 
Release Date - March 18, 2018
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 480 pages
My Rating - 4/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the author of The Guest Room, a powerful story about the ways an entire life can change in one night: A flight attendant wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man - and no idea what happened.

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.

When I was looking for mystery novels to read for this year's #PopCultureResolution I knew I would be adding The Flight Attendant to the list. A woman in a foreign country wakes up next to the dead body of last night's one night stand and some serious gaps in her memory. This premise sets the stage for a story filled with murder, travel, sex, and lies. 

Cassie is the type of character people would easily describe as a hot mess. She's self destructive, and admits that she can be a bit of a disaster. Her choices are not always the best ones and she manages to make situations worse than they have to be thanks to those choices. Worse is the fact that she rarely registers or thinks of how those choices impact others. I can see many people having a negative reaction to this character simply because she is an imperfect female character. I imagine she would be an exhausting friend to have but there is something endearing about the vulnerability she shows that makes her character feel more than just the caricature she could have been. I also liked reading about someone whose choices were completely different than I would make. Her actions fit the character and that was all that ended up mattering to me.

Being a flight attendant certainly has some perks and could be considered a little sexy because you possibly could be traveling to all these different paces. It, in reality, is less glamorous than people think. They never really show the less fun side of the job in media so I was delighted to see that portrayed here. You deal with highly tense and emotional people in already high pressure situations. Her job is, in a lot of ways, perfect for Cassie though because she seems to be someone who always likes to run and escape whatever is going on. She hides from things and her job lets her do that with a ready made excuse.

The mystery elements are fun to see unravel but they are not super unique or surprising. There is a some comfort and familiarity here that made the story more fun than twisty. This could be because I watched the television adaptation first but I think it is more than that. There are tropes in this genre for a reason and I think that some of this shines through a little here. It is also a slower burn of a novel (and mystery) so those wanting a faster paced mystery may be disappointed. This is one that spends time with the main character and lets the mystery move at a pace that allows those character beats.

The Flight Attendant ended up being a fun, quick read that satisfied. It is not only has a thrilling plot but it is an interesting look at a flawed character thrust into situations that go from bad to worse. I highly recommend watching the excellent television adaptation when you are done. There are enough differences to make both enjoyable and enough the same to appeal to those who have read the book first.

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