From the New York Times bestselling 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.
There seems to be a theme running through psychological fiction, of late. That of the drunken and unreliable protagonist. We saw it in the undeservedly popular, The Girl on a Train. Now we have the very flawed air hostess; a woman with a hidden addiction problem and a tendency to lie and steal. She gets herself into a spot of trouble, in a foreign land.
Chris Bohjalian’s The Flight Attendant is all about Cassie Bowden. One event leads to Cassie’s life spiralling out of control. Cassie is an American flight attendant, flying across Europe and Asia. She is now in her 30s, working hard and partying hard. Cassie has alcohol dependency issues, which do not impact her job much. Her free time is spent with one night stands and getting so drunk she blacks out. During one of these sessions, Cassie spends the night with an American hedge fund manager in Dubai. She wakes up the next day to find him dead, apparently murdered. Cassie has very little in the way of a memory of the events, of the night. We follow Cassie, as she copes with panic, self loathing and increasing fear. What happened in that hotel room? Is Cassie now in danger?
Chris Bohjalian takes us into the sad inner world of Cassie. At no point do we feel that Bohjalian is moralising about Cassie and her self-destructive lifestyle. We get an understanding and an awareness of her daily coping mechanisms. Cassie is a functioning alcoholic. Cassie’s father had issues with alcohol. Her sister does not drink. Alcohol dependency seems to be something that the family do not talk about. Cassie is clearly not able to address her addiction, which is interesting in itself.
The action takes us to New York, Dubai and Rome. Yet we experience them like Cassie, as interchangeable places. The pace never lets up. The tension escalates. Like Cassie, we need answers. Unfortunately Cassie’s life descends into chaos, with her name being trashed in the media. The FBI are on her back. Her lawyer is on speed dial. She is craving another drink. Bohjalian hits the right notes deftly, in this exciting thriller.
You will never look at a flight attendant the same again. Especially after the peeing into a sick-bag incident and the dead passenger story. The tales we are told just reek of realism. They are masses of fun! Very glam indeed.
This is a gorgeously entertaining noir; with a satisfying twisted solution and an engaging and sad lead in Cassie.