NATIONAL BESTSELLER - From theNew York Timesbestselling author ofThe Flight Attendantcomes a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam, and his girlfriend follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met.
Alexis and Austin don't have a typical "meet cute"--their first encounter involves Alexis, an emergency room doctor, suturing a bullet wound in Austin's arm. Six months later, they're on a romantic getaway in Vietnam: a bike tour on which Austin can show Alexis his passion for cycling, and can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But then Austin fails to return from a solo ride. Alexis's boyfriend has vanished, the only clue left behind a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road.
As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, she starts to uncover a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in?
Set amidst the adrenaline-fueled world of the emergency room, The Red Lotus is a global thriller about those who dedicate their lives to saving people--and those who peddle death to the highest bidder.
Chris Bohjalian is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 24 books. His work has been translated into 35 languages and become three movies and an Emmy-nominated TV series.
Look for his next novel on March 19, 2024: THE PRINCESS OF LAS VEGAS. (Yes, you can preorder it as a hardcover, eBook, or on audio wherever you buy books.)
The paperback of THE LIONESS went on sale this summer. It is already in development for a limited TV series from e One and Marsh Entertainment. A luxurious African safari turns deadly for a Hollywood star and her entourage in this riveting historical thriller, about which the New York Times wrote in its spring preview, "Bohjalian steers this runaway Land Rover of a story into some wildly entertaining territory." The Boston Globe wrote, "Bohjalian, one of our finest storytellers, weaves his spellbinding magic."
Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist all gave it starred reviews.
His 2021 novel, HOUR OF THE WITCH, is a tale of historical suspense set in 1662 Boston, a story of the first divorce in North America for domestic violence -- and a subsequent witch trial. Diana Gabaldon in her review in the Washington Post called it "historical fiction at its best." Danielle Trussoni in the New York Times called it "harrowing."
His 2020 novel, “The Red Lotus,” is a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam and his girlfriend, an emergency room doctor trained to ask questions, follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met, and is also in development for a TV series. In the New York Times, Sarah Lyall called it, “Terrific. . .[an] elegant noose of a plot. . .Bohjalian is a pleasure to read. He writes muscular, clear, propulsive sentences. . .As suspenseful as it is, The Red Lotus is also unexpectedly moving — about friendship, about the connections between people and, most of all, about the love of parents for children and of children for parents. Bohjalian is a writer with a big heart and deep compassion for his characters.”
His 2018 novel, “The Flight Attendant,” debuted as a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and National Indiebound Bestseller. It is now HBO Max TV series, starring Kaley Cuoco. Season two landed in April 2022.
He is also a playwright and screenwriter. He has a new play, "The Club," arriving at the George Street Playhouse in February 2024,
His other plays include his adaptation of his novel, "Midwives," and "Wingspan," (originally called "Grounded").
His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.
His awards include the Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts; the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; Russia’s Soglasie (Concord) Award for The Sandcastle Girls; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans-Sister Radio; a Best Lifestyle Column for “Idyll Banter” from the Vermont Press Association; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives,was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. He is a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. He was a weekly columnist in Vermont for The Burlington Free Press from 1992 through 2015.
Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst C
Another limbo book moving back and forth between 3 and 4, but this time, my 3.5 stars are going to be rounded down to 3. Don’t boo! Maybe it’s because of my mood to read something more reliable with more likable characters easy to resonate with.
I mostly like the slow-burn but gripping and multi POVed surprising writing style of the writer. But I had some kind of misconnection as I started flipping pages. Maybe I wanted to read something more concrete than biological war conspiracies and secrets the disappearing boyfriend kept, the danger of big plague threatening the world kind of book was not cup of my tea!
At some parts of the book “red lotus” defined as heart-healer and its daily moves as sinking in the water at the night, curling up water and rising at the dawn is a metaphoric resurrection! But this book is all about the plague created by mice so nothing is about resurrection, it’s about extinction so my idea is changing the book name as “The invasion of vengeful mice” or “New York Mice Infinity War”, “Mice’s jetlag after their vacation in Vietnam” I had several other options but I think I continue to write it down, the author may be banned me from reading his books forever. So I shut my mouth.
At least we have a somewhat likable heroine meets a guy at the ER when she works on his arm wound. She falls for him and follows him to the end of the world. No they didn’t go to the Mars, they just traveled to Nam so no big deal but still great sacrifice for heroine! The guy has a bucket list to visit the places in Nam where his father and uncle have fought at 70’s. (He acted like Kevin from “This is us” but luckily we didn’t read flashbacks from his dad and passed away uncle’s dysfunctional, competitive relationship.)Then she finds out everything they had was a big, bold, irritating lie. But she doesn’t fall back or grieve. She finds out the hidden truth and fight with those shady bastards! Atta girl!
We had a really entertaining hero (I reject to call him hero actually. Let’s call him “kidnapped boyfriend”) He doesn’t do anything literally entertaining, he lies, cheats and makes his girlfriend believe he has good intention to travel to Nam and hides his secret agenda by putting her life into danger. So best thing about this hero is he gave me so many reasons to slap him day and night. Surprisingly my name’s meaning in English is also “lotus”. So I may sink at the night but I can work on his nasty cheeks from dusk till dawn. Payback is a bitch!
I liked the conclusion of the story. Some parts could be omitted to fasten the pace just a little bit but last third part of the book was more intriguing and gripping. I even thought, I should have rounded up the stars but my dislike about the kidnapped boyfriend a.k.a liar liar his pants should be on fire bastard stopped my fingers in the air.
It’s definitely not a bad reading but it is not my kind of story. I only wanted to read it because I enjoyed the previous works of the author.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday for sharing this distinguished ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review!
After really enjoying The Flight Attendant a few years ago, I was excited to get my hands on the author's newest.
Sadly, I struggled to stay focused or engage with this one. It was definitely a slow burn and just didn't work for me. I was bored with the characters and really just wanted to finish (skimming did occur) and move on to a more entertaining and engaging novel. I actually had started reading and stopped several times before finishing. Probably would have been better to d-n-f this one, but its hard for me to give up on a book (I need to work on that).
I do seem to be an outlier, so please read the higher reviews before deciding if this would be a winner for you.
Thanks to NG and the publisher for my review copy.
Alexis met Austin in the ER on a Saturday night. She sutured a bullet wound in his arm and in the process learned that he also worked at the hospital but in another department. Six months later, Alexis accompanied Austin to Viet Nam on a biking tour but also for him to visit the places his father and uncle fought during the war.
But one night, Austin doesn't return from a solo ride. Unknown to her, he was approached by two men and taken. Alexis has no idea where he is or what happened to him, so naturally, she is extremely concerned and fears something bad has happened to him such as an accident, etc. She soon learns the "truth" the next day. But Alexis believes there is more to the story (which there is) and won't let things go. She is a doctor after all and what she sees is not consistent with what she has been told. hmmm
Thus, this slow burn of a story. For me, this book started strong and ended strong, but the middle lagged for me. I wanted to give it a little nudge or push to get it moving just a little bit faster. The story was still interesting and kept me engaged albeit a slow engagement if you will. I found the writing to be strong and again, enjoyed the story but the slowness of it at times really brought my enjoyment down somewhat. Rats! I really wanted to love this one! is all I can say : )
Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
I am hit or miss with this author, I loved “The Sandcastle Girls” and "Midwives”, some of his earlier work. This one fell short for me.
The premise of this novel is extremely relevant to our times. I will quote just a bit from the blurb from for this novel “Set amidst the adrenaline-fueled world of the emergency room, The Red Lotus is a global thriller about those who dedicate their lives to saving people, and those who peddle death to the highest bidder.” This book does shine a light on some extremely frightening scenarios that felt all too real at times.
Alexis is an ER doctor who has fallen in love with Austin, a man whom she met in the ER when he came in for a wound in his arm. Alexis is the doctor who stitched him up, he claimed that the wound was from a drunk who was wildly brandishing a loaded weapon in a bar, when it went off it hit Austin in the arm.
Six months later Alexis and Austin are headed to Vietnam, he told her he wanted to visit the places where his father fought as well as his uncle, who ultimately perished in the war. Austin is an extremely high level cyclist who has ridden many tours and so it wasn’t seen as that unusual when he decides to take the last leg of the tour in a different direction. However after several hours have gone by and he doesn’t return, Alexis is certain that some harm has come to him.
After much searching by Alexis and others they are about ready to give up on finding Austin either alive or dead. The next day they find out why he disappeared but there are so many questions about the reasons why. The police in Vietnam are ready to file this case away.
Alexis isn’t willing to accept this answer, she is sure that there is more to this story. She begins to understand that there is a lot about Austin that she doesn’t know. He worked in the same hospital as she does but in the research lab where many experiments are performed on rats.
It takes a lot of detective work on her part to finally unravel all of the secrets that Austin was hiding. We meet some truly despicable characters, ruthless and evil but also a PI who joins Alexis in her hunt for the truth and is there for her when she needs him most. Alexis fears for her own life because of what she begins to uncover.
My problem with this novel is that it is extremely slow moving. Three quarters of the book is taken up with repetitive ruminations about what Alexis is thinking and doing. I was 70% into the book before it really engaged me. I enjoy a novel with strong characters and a plot that keeps me interested and engaged throughout.
I’m sure that fans of Chris Bohjalian will enjoy this novel but for me it was a mediocre read, not bad but not memorable.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
2.5* Not a favorite from this author!🙁 Alexis and Austin are enjoying an exotic vacation in Vietnam. Austin is an avid bicyclist and during a local biking tour he’s chosen to split from the group to explore some back roads alone. Well now, who doesn’t see potential big trouble coming with this scenario? And it most certainly does when he vanishes, leaving Alexis alone and desperate to find him. But perhaps there is more to why Austin disappeared? Could Alexis also be in danger if she digs too deeply?
Oh my goodness, this book ended up to be a struggle, and seriously considered many times to DNF. The pacing was so slow and felt too drawn out. I just couldn’t stay focused! I loved this author’s previous release The Flight Attendant but sadly this one just didn’t grab me in the same way.
Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for an ARC to read and review.
I pre paid for this novel many months ago ... Started it as soon as it arrived. Gorgeous book cover! Love the man - who wrote it. I like many of Chris’s books! A few have been disappointing.... as this one was.
I couldn’t stay interested in the storytelling - my mind drifted - I was bored... not even a bike - a bike jersey- or cycling - could spark a twinkle out of me.
Dull.... very dull!
Note: ‘quick-to-the-point’ reviews from me for the next few weeks ... Paul and are in the heat of concerns due to the complete lockdown of this coronavirus. This is a very hard time for us right now - we’ve been hit hard- living in a complete lockdown area - no income coming in - we have serious health and financial worries for our family - ourselves - our friends - and the global world at large.
I just can’t do “business as normal’ right now. Forgive me.
Wishing people good health ..... .....financial security... basic comforts and needs!!!
A dramatically chilling, tension-filled page-turner.
SUMMARY Alex, an ER doctor meets Austin for the first time on a Saturday night when he is brought into the emergency room with a bullet in his arm. Six months later they travel to Vietnam together, on a bike tour so the Austin can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the Vietnam war. At least that’s what Austin told Alex.
As Alex waits for Austin at the hotel in Vietnam, she becomes increasingly alarmed when his does not return from his day of cycling at the expected time. He is not answering his phone and a search of his route yields little. He has vanished into thin air and the only evidence were two yellow packets of energy gel, found on the road that might have belonged to Austin. Alex calls the U. S. Embassy in Vietnam and soon discovers several lies that force her to question exactly what Alex was doing on that bike ride.
REVIEW Once again, CHRIS BOHJALIAN has knocked the ball out of the park. THE RED LOTUS is a dramatically chilling page-turner. It’s well-written and smartly structured with shifting points of view, that will keep you guessing till the very end. Who is responsible for Austin’s disappearance? Why?
The story is tension-filled, poignant and timely and I couldn’t read it fast enough. I was so enthralled that I read this 400 page thriller all in one day.
Bohjalian has a delightful knack for writing strong but vulnerable women characters, Alex’s character is no different. She’s smart, suspicious and persistent in her search to find out what happened to Austin. But she is also grieving and struggling, and all of this together makes her come alive on the pages.
One of my favorite things about THE RED LOTUS is on several occasions in the story Bohjalian made me want to “learn more” about a word, phase or topic, so I found myself googling references. I absolutely love it when a book goes beyond being highly entertaining but is also (unintentionally, perhaps) educational as well.
Author CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the best-selling author of 21 books including most recently The Sleepwalker (2017) and The Flight Attendant (2018), which is being turned into a limited HBO television series staring Kaley Cuoco.
Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Well, this one was very different from what I expected. Here’s what I knew - a couple are on a biking vacation in Vietnam when the man goes missing while biking alone. The woman, Alex, an ER doctor back in NYC, attempts to find him. Here’s what I didn’t realize - this isn’t a standard kidnapping and the man has a dark past. There’s also a lot to do with rats. Initially, the chapters alternate between Alex and her attempts to find him and what is actually happening to Austin. I appreciated that Alex uses her skills and background as an ER doctor to comprehend what she’s dealing with. I didn’t appreciate Bohjalian’s need to give her psychological issues such as cutting. As the book goes on, we also hear from the Vietnamese detective investigating the crime and the bad guy responsible for Austin’s kidnapping. This was a great story. I’m glad I read it now that the pandemic seems to be under control. It would have been scary as sh** to read it last year. It kept me enthralled throughout. I listened to this one and was turning it on anytime I had more than a minute to listen. I blew through it in mere days. That ending! OMG, that epilogue. I don’t often award five stars to a mystery. But this one deserves it. I also loved the symbolism of the title. The red lotus, according to Vietnamese folk medicine, is used for spiritual healing. It’s also the symbol of selfless love, resurrection and optimism for the future. It is also the national flower of Vietnam.
I read one hundred pages of this, hoping it would grab me-- but it never did. Alexis and Austin met in the ER when Alexis removed a bullet wound from Austin's arm. Six months later and they are dating and going on vacation to Vietnam to bicycle, and then Austin is accosted by strange men in the wilderness and disappears. Alexis is in her hotel room, fretting and drinking wine, when she finds out that he's missing.
The narrative is just so slow-paced and plodding. I thought the scenes with Austin were better, and somewhat chilling, but they were spaced out too much and I hated Alexis. This almost reads like a debut novel because the pacing is so weird, and I was really surprised to see that the author has actually published a whole bunch of stuff besides this. I guess if you're into slower mysteries, this might work for you, but I was really bored.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Perhaps Chris Bohjalian's best thriller ever, this novel starts with a simple missing person situation and grows into an international biological warfare tangle. It is a terrific read, with suspense like something out of Hitchcock, surprises for characters and readers alike, and one of the nastiest bad guys I've encountered in years. Three things make this book exceptional, and more than an ordinary thriller. The first is the setting, as much of the novel takes place in Vietnam -- which is rendered so vividly, you feel the humidity. Second, the attention to detail, especially when it comes to minor characters, so that everyone in this book feels like a living person. And third, toward the end there is an unexpected revelation of the book's big-heartedness, so that right in the middle of the climax you find yourself feeling more deeply for the characters and their whole predicament. I read an advance review edition of this novel (thank you, Doubleday), which is not out till March, and urge you to pre-order. It's that good.
Alexis and Austin are on their first trip together in beautiful Vietnam. Though they’re on a bike tour with a group of tourists, Austin chooses to go it alone one day to pay homage to his uncle and father who served in the country. When he isn’t back hours after he should have been, Alexis starts to panic.
The police in Vietnam and the United States embassy quickly get involved when there’s still no sign of Austin. The next day, his body is found and it appears he was killed in a hit and run bike accident.
Alexis is an ER doctor and when she has to identify the body, she sees some indications on Austin’s body that don’t line up with a bike accident. Back home and unable to properly mourn her boyfriend’s unexpected death, Alexis starts to question that the death is accidental and takes it upon herself to investigate what really happened.
Super relevant and fast paced, I had a hard time putting this down! I loved Alexis and the balance of her character - we saw her weaknesses but she exudes a strength and power that was commendable. I liked that this was a bit of a mix of thriller, mystery and sci fi and I’m generally drawn to medical dramas. This is definitely one to check out!!
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I originally thought I had never read anything written by Chris Bohjalian but then it dawned on me I read Midwives many, many years ago. (Thanks Oprah for the recommendation!) And since I enjoyed The Red Lotus and that book, I need to make sure next time I don't let twenty years go by in between reading his books.
Alexis is working as an emergency room doctor when she meets a man named Austin. He arrives at the hospital with a bullet wound in his arm, she fixes him up, and soon after they start dating. About six months into the relationship they take a trip to Vietnam, where Austin wants to pay his respects to the place his father fought during the war as well as where his uncle died. But after embarking on a solo bike ride, Austin goes missing. On her quest to find answers, Alexis soon discovers her boyfriend might not be the most honest person in the world. Alexis might be putting herself in danger if she continues to seek out the truth and uncover the lies.
So first of all I would like to commend the publisher for not giving away too much in the synopsis. It was nice to go into a book not knowing too much ahead of time and therefore I was actually surprised when the story took a few turns.
The story follows multiple characters but it's fair to say Alexis is the main character. She's not my favorite female lead ever but the author did give her a bit of a backstory so that gave her some depth. She just wasn't a character I particularly liked but that wasn't necessary in order to be interested in her search for the truth. My only real criticism about the book is I don't think Austin was a fully fleshed out character. I felt like my simple question of why? was never really answered.
Without giving away spoilers, this book was different from the typical missing person stories I often read. It's pretty much equal parts mystery as it is thriller. The author explores some frightening but yet relevant topics in the book. And for that reason this book would be a decent book club pick as there's lots of things to discuss about the story.
Overall a good read even if I had a few problems with the characters. Definitely recommend checking this one out and I look forward to reading other books by the author.
Thank you to Netgalley and Doubleday for providing me with an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
With today's coronavirus outbreak, and the Year of the Rat, this fiction book seemed more relevant than I could have hoped! Enjoyable, fast paced and engaging, Chris Bohjalian always delivers. Full review to come on Book Nation by Jen. https://booknationbyjen.com
I liked The Flight Attendant, but this novel fell short for me.
Alexis is an ER doc who follows her boyfriend of six months to Viet Nam, where his uncle was killed and his father shot. Austin is huge into cycling, so they go to Nam via a bike trip. One day Austin goes alone—and doesn’t come back. Everyone says he died in a hit and run, but Alexis has found clues that his death wasn’t accidental. The search for the truth about Austin’s death is compelling since we readers know what happen, and the characters in the novel don’t. However, I never felt pulled into this story or its characters.
Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel, which RELEASES MARCH 17, 2020.
I received the digital arc copy of this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
Is life crazier than fiction? I’m not sure anymore. It’s scary that our worst fears might actually become reality. I think that’s why I could just read this book with my usual ease. The author is wonderfully talented and eloquent with his use of words. I know whenever I open one of his books I will be impressed by the extent of his research and imagination.
Alexis Remnick is an Emergency Room physician who is used to the fast paced environment and complexity of issues which roll through the doors. She never expected to make a connection with a patient, Austin Harper, who came in one night after being shot in a local bar. It seems he was playing darts and a random person waving a gun caused the chaos in the bar. While Alexis is treating his wound she discovers he works for the hospital in administration.
Although they both lead busy lives they manage to embark on a relationship. Alexis maintains a connection with her investment banker mother, Dina Remnick, who works in Manhattan. She learns that Austin’s parents live in Lenox, MA where his mother is a retired middle school principal and his father an injured Vietnam veteran. Feeling that their relationship is heading in a positive direction after months of dating Alexis agrees to accompany him on a cycling tour in Vietnam.
Austin is an extreme cyclist who often travels to experience their adventures. He had been to Vietnam before and this trip he intends to pay respects to his uncle and father who fought in Vietnam. He breaks off from the group to find the area of combat by himself. No one worried initially since he is an experienced cyclist who always travels with water and his Psyche gels for energy on long trips.
Fear spreads amongst the cycle tour group when Austin never returns. A search party is employed in hopes of locating him worried that he might have encountered danger along the way. Eventually, the US embassy becomes involved and the case becomes more complicated.
Alexis returns to the US with so many unanswered questions. When she discovers that Austin lies about his intention for going to Vietnam, Alexis begins to wonder how well she really knows this man. Her investigation leads her to many unexpected places where she uncovers confusing and dangerous information.
This is a wild adventure which is interjected with the comments of someone who seems to hold the answers and is willing to do anything to protect that information. Chris Bohjalian doesn’t disappoint with this novel.
Rats “are the most effective delivery vehicle for mass death ever to exist on earth.” Lovely! As if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough to remind us of the vulnerability we humans have to novel pathogens. Bohjalian weaves the idea of biological weapons into the plot of this latest thriller—and yes, rats are involved.
Alexis Remnick is an ER doctor on a biking tour in Vietnam with her boyfriend of 6 months, Austin Harper. He is killed when hit by a car while biking up a mountain by himself. Our sympathy for him dies a quick death as well when we learn that he is an accomplished liar up to no-good. But, Alexis is curious as to what happened, and hires ex-cop Ken Sarafian to investigate. Good idea! Enjoy this twisting mystery!
Alexis is an emergency room doctor in a New York City hospital. One evening she treats Austin for injuries related to a bullet wound incurred at a bar. The two have never met before but he works in the same hospital. Eventually, they become romantically involved. Six months into their relationship, they go on vacation to Vietnam where Austin is planning a bike tour.
Austin takes a ride one morning to the area where his father and uncle served in the war. Alexis becomes concerned when he does not return and is unreachable by phone. Eventually, the local police find his body on the side of the road. They conclude that he was killed in a hit and run accident. When Alexis views his body, she suspects that his hand injuries would not have resulted from this type of collision. She returns home and decides to hire an investigator and sort out Austin's mysterious life.
The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian is a mystery full of twists and turns. As the details begin to get unveiled the story explodes into a suspenseful tale that has relevance to our current environment. I have enjoyed previous books by this author and look forward to his future novels.
This is exactly what a great mystery should be. It is exciting, well-researched, engaging and IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT DOWN.
A young ER doctor goes to Vietnam with her boyfriend on a biking trip. What should be beautiful and restful quickly begins to unravel when Alexis’ boyfriend disappears. Alexis earns about his lies and soon there is a trail of death surrounding this visit.
As she returns to NYC, more pieces click into place as she begins to put together mysterious happenings right in her own hospital. She is aided by a detective in trying to figure out what the trip was really about. The reader gets to figure out who the bad guys are as this book goes on.
No more clues...mystery lovers, you have to read this!
Thank you Netgalley for this absolutely perfect mystery!
QUICK TAKE: went into this one with zero expectations and was pleasantly surprised. what you think is a missing person mystery quickly transitions into a global conspiracy thriller. The characters are sharp and well-written and the book moves at a quick clip. Fair warning: rats play a prominent role in the story, so if you're turned off by that, I'd avoid this one. Otherwise, definitely worth checking out!
Infectious disease, animal/human transmissibility, threat of pandemic, conspiracy, the world could end with one sneeze...oh and rats. Lots and lots of rats. The timing of this book's release will be positive or negative depending on each individual reader. For me, let's just say it wasn't fun. I needed an escape, not to be thrown into an equally threatening world. But this was out of the author's control, so I now discuss (and rate) the book apart from reader circumstance.
Engaging if not a bit slow moving. I enjoy mysteries/thrillers that prove we don't ever truly know the person sleeping next to us at night, and this one hits the mark in that regard. However, there was too much telling versus showing within the character development in my opinion and this prevented my full investment, which in this case wasn't a bad thing. I was happy to find easy closure in at least one stressful world.
My favorite quote: "It’s a fact that our species is destroying the planet, and the more of us there are, the faster the deterioration. The faster the climate change. Did I actually want a nation ever to use the pathogen as a weapon? Of course not. But, yes, I did tell myself that if one ever did, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It might, in a twisted sort of way, in fact save it." (Dark stuff, right?)
Note: The above quote was checked against the final published edition.
Thank you to the following for permitting me access to an advance reader's copy (ARC) of The Red Lotus. This generosity did not impact my honesty when rating/reviewing. Source: NetGalley Author: Chris Bohjalian Publisher: Doubleday Books Genres: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers Pub Date: Mar 17, 2020
If Michael Crichton's "The Andromeda Strain" and Robin Cook's "Contagion" had a baby with multiple medical health issues that later died as a result. I think 2.5 stars is a reasonable assessment.
This was a thriller, that wasn't. At least for me, it lacked intensity even though there were intense moments. At the heart, it had flawed plot development; the set-up for the plot just seemed quite implausible and its progression lacked any sense of being authentic. Another problem was the flat and not particularly likable characters, especially of the key characters, their interactions were very superficial and the relationship was as well. We saw very little of their relationship and they seemed so different that their "romance" didn't seem realistic. When something happens to one while on a trip in Vietnam, the medical doctor seemed so distraught and other times extremely eager to discredit her lover though she claims to be madly in love with him, it is though a switch has been flipped on her attitude.
This book was dull in several places causing me to set it aside on several occasions and I did even consider abandoning it but with 60 ish pages remaining, I felt my hours of investment needed to be rewarded with a wrap-up. I found the ending to be equally without inspiration with very little information on end results, it was perfunctory at best as if the author was just as frustrated as the reader! This book could have been so much better! I think its lack of synergy made my disappoint more pronounced. It needed more interaction with the characters at the onset and a great deal of editing to make the intended suspense actionable. I was excited to read it but found the book slow reading. I considered not completing it. I have enjoyed other books by Bohjalian but this was a miss for me.
Though it had inspiration from Michael Crichton and Robin Cook, it was not of their caliber in my opinion. Maybe my impressions were altered by the current pandemic but I don't think so. In fact, I would think most people would connect to it because this is about restraining a pandemic. My advice is go pick up a copy of "Contagion" and read it.
What I like about Chris Bohjalian is that his books always surprise me, both with their varying themes and the tremendous amount of research he puts into every single story. This was a little slow moving at first and subjects like rats and potential pandemics were not what I was expecting from a title as lovely as The Red Lotus -- nor what I wanted to read about at this particular time. But I love the way this man writes and I found it captivating. The characters didn't capture me as I would have liked; but this being a galley copy and the author being who he is, I am betting the final edition will show improvement with both the dialogue and some of the grammar that may have been distracting me.
For die-hard Bohjalian fans, this one is not to be missed.
One of the things I really enjoy about Bohjalians's books is that they are always so different and all are so well researched. You are never sure what topic he will be writing about next.
Normally I am very fond of Bohjalian's topics and story lines. However in this book, not so much! There is an animal in this book that I don't particularly care for and it was written about over and over again. Don't get me wrong, the mention of this animal was pertinent to the story, it just gave me the creeps.
So this was not a favorite Bohjalian read. The story was well put together. His research was spot on. The characters were believable. But the animal used throughout the story was too often and too vividly written for me to really enjoy the book.
Alexis is an emergency room doctor in New York; it is there that she meets her future boyfriend, Austin, who happens to work at the hospital in development. Austin comes in with a bullet wound, received in a freak accident at a bar. Six months later, the pair heads to Vietnam as a part of a bike tour. Austin also wants to visit the site where his father and uncle fought in the war. But Alexis waits futilely for Austin to return from his bike ride. The story is that he was killed on his bike in a hit-and-run accident. However, we learn that two men took him as he rode. Alexis works with local authorities and the FBI and quickly realizes that Austin lied about his reason for being in Vietnam. As she digs through their relationship and Austin's world, she starts to learn more and more secrets about her boyfriend, and she worries that he's left her in danger.
"Let’s face it, in all of human history, the most effective delivery vehicle for mass death ever to exist on earth has been—wait for it—the rat."
This is a timely novel and rather scary, as it dips into medical research--particularly rats--and the plague. There's something slightly uncomfortable about reading about the spread of mass disease during a pandemic. It was, however, fascinating, too. Bohjalian tells his story from a variety of points of view--Alexis; Austin and his acquaintance Douglas; investigators in Vietnam who work Austin's case; a private investigator named Ken whom Alexis hires and more. Somehow it all works, with the careful unfolding of facts. We learn about Austin's real reason for being in Vietnam and it all builds up to a dangerous crescendo.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. Bohjalian has a way of embodying his characters, and I particularly loved Ken, the crusty yet kind P.I. The story was quite interesting; oddly well-timed; and the ending especially horrifying. Definitely worth a read. 4 stars.
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Alexis met Austin when she treated him for a bullet wound in the emergency room, and they soon became a couple. Austin worked at the same New York City hospital as a fundraiser. Austin, an avid biker, asked Alexis to go with him on a bike tour in Vietnam where he wanted to visit some sites where his father and his uncle had served during the war. He went off alone one day on his bike to honor his relatives, but never returned to the resort where the bike tour was staying. Alexis and the tour guides saw some energy gels by the side of the road, but found no signs of Austin or his bike that afternoon.
As Alexis looks for the truth about what happened to Austin, the plot goes back and forth from Vietnam to New York City. She hires a private investigator to help unravel the mystery of what Austin was really doing in Vietnam. Unsavory characters are connected with a deadly agent. Should she be grieving for her boyfriend, feeling angry that he deceived her about his plans in Vietnam, or both? Alexis does not know who she can trust, and tensions are high.
This mystery/thriller also shows the terrible effects of Agent Orange which was used during the war in Vietnam. "The Red Lotus" is a good read for the pandemic. It kept my interest, although it seemed a little rushed at the end. It's best to go into this suspenseful page turner without knowing too much about the plot in advance. 3.5 stars.
"...[he] would be called, with the gallows humor of the beleaguered who fear that death is but a sneeze distant, the Rat King."
A timely global thriller that hits all the right notes in the current atmosphere -- basically it's a suspenseful story about a plague bacteria carried by rats. So, if you are triggered by reading about rats, you definitely are going to want to avoid this. There's a lot of detail.
But, back to the story. A young man, Austin Harper, works at a large university hospital in New York in the fundraising and development wing. His girlfriend, ER physician, Alexis Remnick, accompanies him on a trip to Vietnam, ostensibly on a bike tour but Austin claims he also wants to find the sites there where his uncle died and his father was wounded when they were posted there during the Vietnam War. When Austin doesn't return to the Villa Haldina Hotel in Hoi An after a solo bike ride one afternoon, Alexis contacts the local police and the Consulate. When the FBI legal attaché stationed at the US embassy gets involved the search for the missing Austin Harper shifts into high gear. As things evolve, Alexis discovers that she did not know Austin well at all and it turns out that he was involved with something completely unexpected and terribly wrong. NO SPOILERS.
Just go ahead -- read this now. I really enjoyed it, not only because of the medical and science facts which I love, but the story is fast-paced and so realistic. The anticipation of what was going to happen kept me flipping the pages and I only wish I could have had a couple of hours to read it all in one sitting as I was always thinking about what was going to happen next whenever I had to put it down. Chris Bohjalian is an excellent writer (I've read every one of his books) and he always manages to surprise me by tackling so many different topics and does an incredible amount of research. I learned a lot about rats and disease; I'll be thinking about all the possibilities and suffer some anxiety for awhile. I thought he did a good job of giving us characters that were interesting and relatable. I was going to wait to read this closer to publication date, but the lure was too strong and I succumbed.
Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for this e-book ARC to read, review and recommend.
Hello everyone! I’ve been so behind reviewing the books !! But life gets busy out of nowhere!!
The book starts off well and just keeps going. It really kept me turning the pages. An ER doctor is in Vietnam on a biking tour with her boyfriend, whom she has only known for a few months. He goes off alone one day and she is waiting his return. And waiting and waiting. It soon becomes clear something is wrong, and she has to face the fact that her sweet, charming boyfriend may have had some dark secrets. If that sounds like a cliché, I can tell you it goes off in some interesting and unexpected directions that it’s better to learn as you go.
I like the development and revealing of the characters. The ER doctor, the main character, is a combination of weak and strong, vulnerable and invincible. She’s an adrenaline junkie and a former cutter. I’ve heard of that behavior (cutting), but I never really understood it, so I found her thought process intriguing. The detective is also a compelling character, one I liked a lot. The Vietnam war is referenced in a way not commonly represented, much of which I was not aware of.
As for the writing, well, it’s pedestrian. It’s very readable, but not great literature. I had an advanced reader copy, so I am not going to quote anything as changes could be made in the released version, but in the copy I read, the author misused about a dozen words, like he heard them somewhere but didn’t really understand them. Normally, I would deduct a star for that, but I really did enjoy the story and I think most people would enjoy it as well, so I am staying with a five-star review.
I got completely hooked by this medical thriller and couldn't put it down! For whatever reason, I started reading The Red Lotus expecting more of a connection to the Vietnam War -- and while there is a connection, it's not the main focus of the story.
I enjoyed the characters, the intricate plot, and the growing sense of unease and then danger as the main character digs and digs into the mystery of what happened to her deceased boyfriend, and why he lied to her. There are some disturbing elements too (and if rats creep you out, you might want to skip this one.)
I have a few minor quibbles with the book though. - What was the point of Alexis's history of being a cutter? It adds dimension to her character's sad past, but doesn't really have any relevance to the thriller plotline. - - -
The items above don't take away from the fact that this was a compelling read that I just couldn't look away from. Maybe not entirely the best thing to read during an ongoing pandemic, but still a really well-written thriller.
With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. Full spoiler-free review posted at Bookshelf Fantasies.