“She was aware first of the scent of the hotel shampoo, a Middle Eastern aroma reminiscent of anise, and then–when she opened her eyes–the way the light from the window was different from the light in the rooms in the hotel where the crew usually stayed.

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Photo of flight attendants from the 1960s.

A very very long first sentence to a novel, but it worked to set the scene. Immediately we know that the character is in the Middle East, and that she is waking in a place she would normally not stay at. Immediately we have a bunch of questions we want to answer and so we read on.

This was an enjoyable read. I was hooked into the story and I wanted to read it to the end even though it didn’t seem like there was a mystery to begin with. I wanted to read it to the end because I wanted to know what happens to Cassie. She is a likeable character (an unpopular opinion, apparently) and I found her relatable.

Cassie is a flight attendant who is also an alcoholic. She has blackouts from drinking too much and this aspect of her character is what sets the scene for the rest of the book. Something life-destroying happens to Cassie and we follow along to see how everything unravels.

This is the first book from Bohjalian that I’ve ever read, so I didn’t really have any expectations of what it’d be like. I picked this book off of the featured shelf at my local library and got lucky that I just happened to like it.

This book worked for me because I was wanting to read more suspense, and The Flight Attendant provided it. The story wasn’t exactly believable in regards the FBI and police, but that’s why it’s fiction. I would read another book from this same author as I really like his writing style. It’s not too flowery, it’s straight to the point, and it has a good mix of action and exposition to keep the story flowing.

Alcoholism is one of the central themes in this book. I don’t know very much about the topic beyond what’s been covered in popular culture, so I have no idea if Bohjalian did it justice. What I like is that there wasn’t some heavy-handed moral being slapped down about alcohol abuse. It didn’t feel like the author was pushing his personal opinions with this novel.

As for whether I’d read this book again: nah. It’s a one and done book.

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