Posted in Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian


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, already 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?


I stumbled upon an excerpt of this book and after I devoured the few pages, I was desperate to read the whole book. Probably what got me so hooked up was not necessarily the murder mystery itself, but the fact that Cassie, the protagonist, is a flight attendant. Since I’m doing the same job, diving into someone’s life who has so many similarities to mine was fascinating. It’s normal to look for things that make you relate to a book character. But most of the time, you have to imagine that character’s lifestyle, the job he or she does, all the small details that go on throughout a normal day to day life. This time, with Cassie, I didn’t have to… imagine anything. I just knew all those details. All the hotel rooms, all the flights details, the perks of the job, the crazy schedule, the bus trips to and from the airports, the parties, all the types of colleagues and their interactions. This was probably the main reason why, even when I started disliking the protagonist, the book still kept me somewhat intrigued.

The author’s work of documentation regarding airlines’ culture and systems, the aircraft work itself and the lifestyle of the crew is absolutely remarkable. And I’m assuming that his documentation about legal work, the international laws, the collaboration between countries, the FBI and other crime preventing organizations is just as strong as the one regarding the aviation industry. It seemed just as credible, well recorded and described.

My only problem was the heroine’s evolution, the way her personality develops into a more and more disturbed behavior, the way she paves her path with layers of lies, even during all the moments when they are completely unnecessary and the truth would be her best escape.

Somewhere in the middle of the story I started feeling so repelled by Cassie’s conduct that I can’t even see clearly if I slowed down my reading speed because of her or if the action slackened to an annoying pace.

Despite my problem with the heroine, I did love the whole storyline. I really enjoyed the chapters written from the antagonist’s point of view and almost emphasized with her more than I did it with Cassie. Secondary characters also have some surprisingly good stories so overall, The Flight Attendant was a satisfying read, even if my enthusiasm didn’t hold to the same level from the first few chapters.


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