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The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Veteran flight attendant Cassandra Bowden is a self-destructive alcoholic. Not exactly the problem you want to have when you're 40,000 feet in the air. All of Cassie's binge drinking occurs after she hops off the plane, usually ending with a one-night stand and a pounding hangover the next morning. To solve that dilemma, she pops a few Advil and flies to the next destination. But her luck at concealing her secret is about to change—and it's all due to waking up next to a stranger's dead body.

Cassie, of course, panics. She met this man, Alexander Sokolov who sat in 2C, on a flight from Paris to Dubai. He was a handsome, smooth-talking sort. A Manhattan hedge fund manager. Easily wrapped in his seduction, she landed back in his fancy hotel room. As Cassie tries to create a clear image of the night before, she remembers leaving the man's room . . . but, before that, there was a visitor. A woman named Miranda—someone who worked with Alex. But she distinctly remembers that woman leaving, too. Could Cassie have killed him? Is she capable of murder? Rarely does she go through a blackout during her binges, and this time, it's a definite haze. Possibly Alex tried to take advantage of her, and she attacked. Or, maybe, she just lost it.

Quickly, Cassie flees the scene of the crime. What happens next is a series of misguided decisions: cleaning her fingerprints, taking the murder weapon, and dumping her purse in public trash can. Then she hops on her scheduled flight to Paris, which lands her back in NYC. There, she could get an American lawyer—if she needed one—and all would be okay, right? Cassie would like to blame everything on her damaged upbringing with her alcoholic father, when she was terribly alone, terribly desperate for love. But how long can she lie and stonewall investigators? Like a plane crashing into the sea, Cassie must brace for impact. After so many lies and damning decision, can she redeem herself? And, if it's not her, who really killed Alex Sokolov?

Like many of Chris Bohjalian's past novels, his new title, The Flight Attendant, is an explosion of fast suspense with flawed female characters. Bohjalian has mastered the female voice, and it is evident especially in The Flight Attendant. He is a talented storyteller who likes to write about individuals who are on the edge of losing control of everything around them. The rush you feel as Cassie lies and gets away with it is intense. The sorrow you feel for her while she reveals her terrible childhood is heartbreaking. While we read Cassie's story, there is another narrator whose role is revealed immediately, as they move in on an unsuspecting Cassie. Overall, The Flight Attendant is a masterful piece of psychological suspense fiction.