“She honestly couldn’t say whether flying made people weird, or whether people were inherently weird and a closed cabin just made it more apparent.” In his latest novel, Chris Bohjalian leverages the sometimes bizarre, sometimes terrifying world of air transit, peppering readers with entertaining tidbits while we follow flight attendant Cassie Bowden after she wakes up in a Dubai hotel room next to a man whose throat was slashed during the night.
As a barely functional alcoholic, life happens to Cassie. She awakes in this crime scene with no idea what transpired or why she was spared. Like many preceding nights, her memory is clear until it’s not— when you have more drinks than fingers to count them, blackouts are common. She’s nearly sure she didn’t kill the man, and is certain she doesn’t want to explain herself from a Dubai prison, so she collects her things and returns to the airline hotel in time to serve first class on the way back to JFK.
As the facts of the night catch up to her, Cassie continues her self-sabotage, repent, and repeat cycle. She’s a character you want to understand, but will be glad you don’t relate to. “She wanted to be different from what she was— to be anything but what she was. But every day that grew less and less likely.” Cassie has snippets of greatness, but can’t string together enough good decisions in a row to get out of her own way.
Bohjalian delivers on the high bar he has set for himself. Readers will cheer on Cassie, staying up too late to piece together what happened, and enjoy the quirky, interesting facts he’s woven into the narrative. Did you know death by misadventure is what coroners write on death certificates “when people died doing something monumentally stupid”? Well, now you do, thanks to Chris Bohjalian.
After working for years in technology, Abby turned to writing, and in 2017 her debut novel, I LIKED MY LIFE, was published by St. Martin’s Press. She’s also a human rights advocate, and when she’s not busy watching “the comedy show that is her children,” she manages to find time for one of her favorite activities, reading. Visit Abby’s website.