The Red Lotus

The Red Lotus

by Chris Bohjalian

Hardcover

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Overview

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant comes 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.

The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin's arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road. As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, and deals with the FBI, Austin's prickly family, and her colleagues at the hospital, Alexis uncovers 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385544801
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/17/2020
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 134
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of twenty-one books, including The Red Lotus, Midwives, and The Flight Attendant, which will be an HBO Max limited series later this year starring Kaley Cuoco. His other books include The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; and The Double Bind. His novels Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers were made into movies, and his work has been translated into more than thirty-five languages. He is also a playwright (Wingspan and Midwives). He lives in Vermont and can be found at chrisbohjalian.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads.

Hometown:

Lincoln, Vermont

Date of Birth:

August 12, 1961

Place of Birth:

White Plains, New York

Education:

Amherst College

Read an Excerpt

1

 

 

The swallows skipped like flat stones across the surface of the infinity pool, their wings spread, and a lone woman in a gauzy beach coverup—what she might have called a kaftan if that word didn’t sound so matronly—watched them. The tunic didn’t merely protect her pale skin from the sun, which already was sinking into the trees to the west, it hid from the world the scars on her thighs at the edge of her bathing suit. The birds, their feathers a deeper blue and a more pristine white than their cousins in North America, looked playful and frivolous, and she was beginning to resent their happiness because her disquiet was morphing moment by moment into dread. She lowered her sunglasses to gaze beyond the pool, down the long, flat stretch of driveway she could see from here, and the lines of statuesque dipterocarp trees that bordered the pavement like sentinels and were at least seventy or eighty years old. They’d been planted by some French overlord and they’d survived the wars. She was hoping to see him on his bike, hurtling through the open wrought-iron gates, past the guardhouse (manned this afternoon by a sweet and slight teenage boy in a uniform that looked like it belonged on a bellman from a grande dame hotel from a distant era) and down the straight stretch of asphalt, but she saw nothing. No bicyclist. No cars. No delivery trucks. The idea crossed her mind that he had stopped at one of the massive beach hotels to dive into the ocean on his way back; he’d expressed his disappointment that the bike tour hadn’t booked them at a property on the water, the way they had the last time he was here. No one would presume that a tall American wasn’t a guest if he raced in, leaned his bike against a palm tree, and cooled off in his bike shorts in the waves.

 

Still, she tried to will him to appear, she tried to fashion an image of his black-and-red bike helmet from the heat that hovered, even this late in the day, like mist atop hot, fresh pavement.

 

She swatted a mosquito on her knee and sat up on the chaise, her bare feet on the bluestone tile, and dropped her magazine. Her hands were moist with sweat and sunblock, and she wiped them on her coverup. An animal, a tiny rodent of some sort, skittered beneath the chaise and into the nearby brush. A salamander froze. She reached for her phone and sent him yet another text asking him if he was okay. She’d sent him five now, each one a little more urgent and anxious than the one that had preceded it. He was an hour and a half late. If he’d had a flat tire, he would have texted. The sag wag—their slang for the support wagon, a van technically—would have left to rescue him. There was pretty good cell coverage in this corner of Vietnam, though apparently it was spotty in some of the inland stretches and up over the pass that would comprise a part of his ride. If he’d stopped for a cup of iced coffee—or even hot coffee; he was obsessed with the way the waitstaff at so many places here would bring a French press to the table—he would have let her know. If he were lost, he would have sent her what she imagined would have been a comical Mayday. She’d heard nothing from him since they’d parted midmorning.

 

The sun wouldn’t set for a few hours, but it troubled her that his bike didn’t have a light.

 

For an hour now, her thoughts had grown steadily darker, a step-by-step ascent into the thin air of trepidation: He’d been hit by a car that had left him hurt by the side of the road. He’d been hit by a truck that had sent him careening over a guardrail, and his broken body was bleeding out amidst the rice paddies or in some thick copse of bamboo. He had a head injury, and he needed her right now to do a SCAT 2—a sport concussion assessment—on him. How many had she done in the ER on others in the last year? Thirty-five? Forty? Probably more. Maybe one a week, whether it was a pedestrian hit by a cab or a teen in a pickup basketball game or a college kid who had just done something stupid. How was it you could give yourself a concussion playing beer pong or quarters? She’d treated university freshmen who’d managed the seeming impossibility playing both.

 

Once again, she made a list in her mind of all the innocuous possibilities for Austin’s absence. There were the villages along the route, and there were the little places on the flats on the north side of the mountain where the fishermen would get their provisions and the small snack shacks on the southern slope where tourists would stop to gaze out from their plastic chairs at the sea. Maybe he’d pulled over for noodles or steamed rice cakes or even a can of the Tiger beer that he loved, and he’d forgotten his phone on a little round wooden picnic table at the restaurant. Or his phone had run out of power. Or the cell coverage on the switchbacks was worse than they knew. Or he’d thought he’d sent her a text and forgotten to press Send. Certainly, she’d done that in her life, finding the text in its bubble, unsent, hours later or even the next morning. In this scenario, his phone was sitting in the left kidney pocket of his cycling jersey, and he had accidentally put the device on mute. (The scar from where the bullet had struck his arm was right around the hem of the short sleeve of most of his bike shirts.)

 

But no matter how many scenarios she crafted in her mind, the bottom line was that he was still late.

 

He spoke enough Vietnamese to ask directions on the street and order dinner in a restaurant—though the waitstaff had spoken English at every spot they had dined as a group on the bike tour—and when he’d had a tailor make him a suit in Hoi An, he had started to speak to the tailor and his two young female assistants in Vietnamese, but it was clear early on that they were being polite and indulging him. They saw so many Western tourists that they spoke a little German and French, as well as the King’s English, and soon they all stopped the charade and it was as if he were ordering a suit at a tony Manhattan department store. The same had occurred when he’d had her fitted for a black and silver cheongsam—this one cut so short it was like a chemise—the neck hole so tight it was like a dog collar. She couldn’t imagine in reality that she’d ever wear it as anything but foreplay. Both outfits were going to be delivered to the hotel that night.

 

In any case, she presumed, he could probably ask his way here in Vietnamese in a pinch. In her mind, she saw him smiling and asking a farmer or an old woman or a waiter, “Da Nang?” “Hoi An?” and pointing in one direction or another.

 

She pulled off her ball cap and adjusted her ponytail. He would tease her about her anxiety when he returned; she would chastise him for making her worry.

 

And she would remind him that they met when she dug a bullet out of his arm, so she would always have cause for alarm when it came to him. For worry. He was who he was. One time, he’d been biking in the Adirondacks and hit fifty-five miles per hour on a long, steep downhill into Keene Valley, passing logging trucks and then UPS trucks and then a guy in a Lexus. She had heard the story from a cycling acquaintance of his that past summer, who told her that he had beaten the rest of the riders to the bottom of the hill by minutes. Literally, minutes. A year ago, the first time he had come to Vietnam on a bike tour, he’d nearly driven the tour guides mad one night by disappearing for three hours after dinner in Ho Chi Minh City. They’d actually waited up for him in the hotel bar. They’d been moments from calling the police and the American consulate when he finally returned. His excuse? Just exploring the city. He’d met three French bicyclists, and they’d compared notes on the different stages and mountains in the Tour de France, because they had all biked them for fun at some point in their cycling lives.

 

She had brought to the pool, along with her magazines and her iPad and phone, the map for the day with the two possible bike routes. There were eight of them on the bike tour, a smaller group than usual, apparently, and today they’d been allowed to choose rides of twenty-four and thirty-nine miles. She stared at it now, even though she knew that he would only be on the route at the very end. He wasn’t doing either ride. Yesterday the group had planned to ride the Hai Van Pass over the mountain, a thirty-five-mile route along Highway One and the only real climb on the itinerary: twenty-three hundred feet of ascent. Austin had been looking forward to it immensely, in small part because of the exertion, but mostly because of the pilgrimage. The road would take him near where his father had been wounded and his uncle had died in what the Americans called the Vietnam War and the Vietnamese called the American War. Unfortunately, it had poured all day long and the tour leaders wanted no one—not even a rider as experienced as Austin—biking down the tortuous, steep slope of the mountain in the rain. The road would be too slick and the descent too dangerous. And so the whole group had taken the van from the hotel in Hue to their next stop on the outskirts of Hoi An, and gone shopping there in the City of Lanterns. It was when Austin had bought his suit and picked out her dress.

 

Now, today, Austin was doing the ride in reverse and doubling the ascent by riding north over the mountain to the Hue side, and then back over it and through Da Nang to their little hotel near Hoi An. It would be a ride of about seventy miles and forty-six hundred feet, which was grueling and long, but not all that grueling and long for him. He did at least a half dozen rides that distance every summer. He did at least two centuries—rides of a hundred miles. And the forecast today had been nothing but sun with the temperature in the high seventies. It was a perfect afternoon for him to stretch it out and get what he called that good wobbly feeling in his legs at the end of a lengthy, exhausting ride. It was the perfect day for him to pay his respects, the cerulean skies a sign that he was meant, finally, to visit the corner of the world that in so many ways had defined his father’s life. Austin’s wasn’t a military family, but it was a family of privilege and responsibility where it was expected fifty years ago that you did your duty when you were asked: both of his grandfathers had served in the European theater in the Second World War, both had survived, and both had gone on to esteemed (and lucrative) careers in different facets of banking. And so when Austin’s father’s number came up in the lottery in 1970 and he was drafted, he went. He postponed his freshman year at Bates by, in the end, three years. His brother, four years his senior and a newly minted graduate of Syracuse, enlisted, because he couldn’t imagine his younger brother in the jungles without him. It didn’t seem fair. He was sent to Fort Benning and Officer Candidate School, where he would leave a lieutenant and be given command of a forty-three-person rifle platoon almost upon touching down in what was then South Vietnam.

 

Alexis knew Austin had not felt the same pressure or evidenced any desire to enlist thirteen years earlier, when he’d finished college. At the time, America had been trying desperately to extricate itself from Iraq and determine whether it would ever be possible to leave Afghanistan. And Austin? He once told her—and it had felt like a confession, the way he had shaken his head ruefully—that he wasn’t his father and his uncle. He simply wasn’t hardwired that way.

 

Alexis sighed when she imagined those siblings, so close that they went to a spectacularly unpopular war together.

 

She wished she had demanded of Austin that he let her accompany him on his ride today. But she also knew that her body probably wouldn’t have forgiven her if she’d tried to ride the seventy miles and forty-six hundred feet of climb with him. And, of course, she would have slowed him down. She could barely keep up with him on even the shorter rides; he was always pulling a little ahead, realizing how far behind him she was, and doubling back. And so along with the two single women in the group and a pair of married accountants, today Alexis had done the long ride: thirty-nine miles. Only the elderly couple from North Carolina, the Coopers, had done the shorter, twenty-four-mile route, but that was more because Alan Cooper wanted to spend the afternoon at some nearby bird sanctuary than because they were incapable of riding farther. They were in their early seventies but stupendously well preserved. If she lived another forty years, she hoped she’d be half that together.

 

The night before they had left for Vietnam, a guy roughly Alan’s age had been brought in to the ER just after dinner with an intracerebral hemorrhage. He’d collapsed at the dining room table, spilling his wine and toppling a tower of polenta and basil and sliced tomatoes, and was long unconscious by the time the EMTs arrived. She suspected instantly that’s what it was, and that the poor man’s brain was quite literally drowning in blood. The CT scan confirmed it. It was clear that emergency surgery was necessary and even if the fellow survived, he was likely going to be a vegetable when they were done. But she kept him alive until the family could all arrive or at least be allowed to weigh in long distance on how to proceed. They decided on the surgery, which was fine, and Alexis had learned the next morning, when she’d called the hospital before leaving for the airport, that the old man had died in the OR. The memory made her love the idea that the Coopers were on a bike trip in Vietnam. You just never knew when a stroke was going to leave you a stringless marionette on the dining floor beside the half-eaten remains of your supper.

Reading Group Guide

QUESTIONS

1. Alexis’s work as an emergency room doctor has shown her that life is short – and full of unexpected horrors. How do you think the trauma she’s seen in her career affects the choices she makes early in her relationship with Austin?
2. What initially attracts Alexis to Austin? How does their “meet-cute” in the ER set the tone for their relationship even before Austin disappears?
3. The Vietnam that Alexis experiences on the bike trip is full of natural beauty and thriving cities, but references are made often to the destruction that the country faced during the war. How do events of the Vietnam War loom over the action of the book despite it being set in the present? Have you ever traveled somewhere that felt deeply immersed in its past?
4. Rats are a recurring motif throughout the narrative and noted for their ability to survive chemical warfare and wreak havoc by carrying pathogens. They’re also a common – albeit loathed – aspect of life in cities like New York and Ho Chi Minh City. How are rats being used as a metaphor in this story? What “rat-like” qualities do characters like Austin and Douglas possess?
5. Why do you think Alexis insists on investigating Austin’s death when she returns home from Vietnam? What reasons might she have for trying to solve the mystery beyond the fact that the victim was her boyfriend?
6. Ken Sarafian connects personally to different aspects of Austin’s murder: he’s a Vietnam vet, and his daughter was the same age as Alexis. Do you think these personal connections help or hinder him more as he moves through the investigation?
7. Alexis’s relationship with her mother is complicated, but loving. How do you think Alexis grows to understand her mother more after Austin’s death?
8. Taleen Sarafian observes that the “red lotus” plague is named after a beautiful flower that “sinks at night” and “rises again at dawn.” Where else in the novel do you see themes of resurrection?
9. Can you think of recent health crises or pandemics that you found particularly frightening? Why do you think stories about biological warfare and “new plagues” are so consistently scary?
10. How did you understand the motivation behind the creation of the “red lotus” pathogen? Do you think it was solely about money, or was there another reason so many doctors and scientists might have collaborated on something so dangerous?
11. THE RED LOTUS is Chris Bohjalian’s 20th novel. It’s a diverse collection. What qualities—of plot, character, theme, mood, and style—make his novels uniquely “Bohjalian?”

Customer Reviews

The Red Lotus (Signed Book) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
diane92345 12 days ago
Emergency room physician Alexis meets Austin when he comes into her ER to have a bullet removed from his arm. Seven months of dating later, they are on a bike tour in Vietnam. One day, Austin is biking alone when he disappears. Alexis, understandably nervous, desperately searches for him in The Red Lotus. The book begins as a simple missing person story. However, it soon escalates into a timely tale of how a modern day plague could start. Whoa, I feel so much better that this one is a bacteria—not a virus like COVID-19. Still, The Red Lotus is a perfectly creepy read while you are quarantined at home! 4 stars! Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
blueberrygirl417 19 hours ago
I choose this book based on the author's other book: The Flight Attendant. This was ok. I found myself getting confused by all the characters and not really caring about what happened to the boyfriend who died. There was a "cutting" storyline that felt strange--maybe not believable? I also didn't understand the italicized entries every so often. I know it was supposed to lend intrigue about one of the characters having additional knowledge, but it wasn't a surprise when it was revealed. Solid meh.
Anonymous 1 days ago
Alexis had met her current boyfriend, Austin, when he was brought to the ER where she was an attending physician with a minor gunshot wound (if there is such a thing!). Now six months later, they are in Vietnam on a biking tour when Austin decides to go on a ride by himself. When he doesn’t return on time, Alexis alerts the authorities, but to no avail as his body is found the next day, the apparent cause being a hit-and-run driver. But Alexis does quite accept that story, as when she had gone out on her own to search for him along the biking route, she had come upon some clues that got her mind thinking about why they went to Vietnam in the first place and what might really have happened to Austin. Upon her return, she meets and hires a private detective to help her find out what really happened to Austin. The answers to her search will keep you on the edge of your seat. I was very excited to be approved to read the ARC of Bohjalian’s latest novel and it did not disappoint in any way. I have read several of his books in the past, always rating them 4 to 5 stars, until the last one, which I did not finish (something I rarely do) so was worried that he has lost his touch. The Red Lotus dispelled any thoughts of that! Thanks to Doubleday and NetGalley for the ARC.
MaMoeMG 4 days ago
As a physician I was very interested in the medical aspects of this extremely well written novel and I highly recommend it
Marythelibrarian 7 days ago
When American ER Physician Alexis Remnick embarks on a cycling trip to Vietnam with her boyfriend (of seven months) Austin Harper, she expects the trip to be uneventful. When Austin disappears while on a solo bike ride, Alexis finds her life quickly spiraling out of control. Alexis soon finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about Austin, their Vietnam trip, and their relationship. While the Vietnamese police and American Embassy launch an official investigation regarding Austin, Alexis conducts one of her own. The closer that Alexis gets to the truth, the more ugliness that is uncovered and the more her life is endangered. This novel plunges the reader into a nefarious underground world of international bio-terrorism. While Chris Bohjalian has crafted a well-written and suspenseful thriller, the focus on rats and disease on a pandemic level may not appeal to all readers.
MeetingHouse 7 days ago
You will not be able to put down this brilliant, and uncannily timed thriller. Masterfully crafted, edge of your seat suspense, Bohjalian is in top form and will keep you guessing until the last page. The main character is an ER doctor whose bicycle trip to Vietnam with her boyfriend plunges her into a crisis so vast and dangerous that his lies to her pale in comparison. Nothing is as it seems. She has to race against the clock to prevent a pandemic while trying to assemble the clues about what is actually happening. The writing is gorgeous and economical. The pace is so relentless you won't catch your breath until the final word.
Stephen23 7 days ago
Suspenseful, smart and beautifully written. this is one of my favorite of this author.
Sarah_K427 8 days ago
I love Chris Bohjalian's work. His books are always well researched, compelling, and something different to read. The Red Lotus was no exception. Alexis' character was fascinating--it was great to see hew develop and become more real as the book progressed and we met more people in her life. Some parts of this book were a little weird and didn't seem to fit the overall arc of the story, but I still enjoyed it. The (relatively) happy ending was a bit of a surprise and I'm still not 100% sure what I thought, but it was a good read.
Denice_L 8 days ago
Chris Bohjalian is a magician! Since I first read one of his books, I have thought he was one of the best writers around. The Red Lotus is an arresting story of two people who find each other; then when one of them disappears, we find that maybe, just maybe, they are not who we thought. It's always amazing to me how he can hide the clues in plain sight and I miss them until the scenes explode! This is not a light read, pay attention to the story. You will be amazed!
Anonymous 8 days ago
The Red Lotus Review It was disconcerting to be reading a book about a possible pandemic while we’re concerned about the Coronavirus. It was frighteningly believable how easy a possible a pandemic could happen. In The Red Lotus the main protagonist is a very likable character, Alexis, who is drawn into intrigue due to her lying boyfriend. He might have been trying to sell a virus. How involved was she? It’s a tense, thriller to the end.
Peaches82 8 days ago
Why would someone want to do what Austin does? Not talking about the biking.... This book was ok for me. It would go really slow, then pick up speed and then go slow again. Most of it was slow. I don't blame Alexis for not picking up on her boyfriend's (of 6 months) nefarious activities.... He was very good at playing the good guy. I learned a lot more about rats than I wanted to know through this.
GNan 8 days ago
The Red Lotus is outstanding, just outstanding from every viewpoint. The story is told in a straightforward manner, the characters are well defined and well developed, the women are intelligent, the story (unfortunately) is all too believable in this day and age. Bohjalian has written on a wealth of different subjects and this is another stretch for him, but obviously very well researched and explained. This was not just a “page turner,” but an “all nighter.” I finished about 5:00 a.m.! Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Doubleday Books, for an ARC of this terrific new book!
bookfan-mary 8 days ago
So, this novel will either turn you off within the first 25% or it will grab you and take you on a roller coaster ride of fast moving and growing viruses and how easy it would be to quickly affect the entire world population.  It's about drug resistant pathogens, rats (lab and dumpster types), the researchers trying to stay ahead of the next pandemic, and good vs. evil. In these days of a coronavirus pandemic it was very easy to imagine all of Chris Bohjalian's novel as nonfiction. This is a scary and anxiety producing story. Be warned.
bamcooks 8 days ago
Chris Bohjalian has written a gripping thriller about a timely subject--a pathogen that could cause a pandemic. Alexis, an ER doctor from Manhattan, is traveling in Vietnam on a bike tour with her boyfriend Austin when he disappears. Later when his body is found, it looks like he has met with a tragic accident, but Alexis is not quite ready to believe that and hires a private investigator to look into the mystery. It appears Austin may have been lying all along. Bohjalian has a knack for pulling the reader right into his story which he unfolds at the perfect pace. An interesting array of characters, some of whom are decent, intelligent and hard working, some utterly despicable, a beautiful foreign setting, and an all too plausible, if frightening scenario make for a real page turner of a thriller. "Lotus flower has been regarded as Vietnam's national flower. Lotus symbolizes the beauty, commitment, health, honor and knowledge. Lotus flowers grow from the muddy pond but their seed grow toward the direction of the sun light, which represent the purity of spirit." I just hope I don't have nightmares about rats now! I received an arc of this thriller from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity!
Renwarsreads 9 days ago
This book really hit on a lot of issues similar to what we are facing in today's society. I thought the part about the rats was really different and interesting. I liked Alexis, she was a strong person and really wanted to know the truth even if it soiled her memories of Austin. The book seemed like it was going the way of searching for Austin in Vietnam and then turned once Alexis returned to NY into solving a crime, instead of learning to deal with an accident. It really makes you think about rats differently in this uncertain time.
KimHeniadis 9 days ago
It took me a bit to get into The Red Lotus. Although Chris Bohjalian has a talent for writing domestic relationships, I was waiting to get into the cat and mouse chase that so often comes when someone steals a virus and others are trying to get it back. Once I hit that point, about 20% in, it was a thrill ride… although I do have a bit of an issue with how easily Alexis was able to get information out of the various police services. I’ve never been in trouble with the law, but I can’t see the FBI just giving a civilian names of suspects or other people Alexis can go to for more information. Once Alexis hired Ken Sarafin, a private detective, it became a bit more realistic for me, since he would have contacts in law enforcement. The descriptions that Bohjalian gave of Vietnam made the country sound gorgeous and a place I would like to visit. And his information in regards to the Vietnam War made a part of history come alive. That is one part of the book I really enjoyed. Bohjalian does a fantastic job making all the loose ends come together at the end, and this would make a great beach read, or if you want to increase your fear in regards to the Covid-19 virus, give The Red Lotus a read.
wvteddy 9 days ago
I enjoyed this book more when I finished it than while I was reading it. While it was a bit predictable the ending was more like early Robin Cook. Alexis Remnick, an ER doctor, went with her boyfriend Austin Harper on a bicycling trip to Vietnam so he could visit the place where his uncle had died and his father had been shot. Only Alexis discovers he was lying. He never returns from his cycling and his body is soon discovered, a victim of a hit and run. Case closed, except Alexis can't help but feel that he was murdered. She returns to the US, hires a PI and begins to dig into the case on her own. With the help of a policeman from Vietnam they finally figure out what was going on, just in the nick of time. Like I said, a bit predictable. The author evidently did much research on Vietnam, the beautiful countryside, its people, and the war. It was well written with well developed, if slowly developed characters. Alex seemed to be a typical thriller character whom the reader can't help but think should be a little smarter. It wasn't a book that I couldn't put put down but it was enjoyable. I didn't think it was as good as The Flight Attendant. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book.
Karenrmicone 11 days ago
Chris Bohjalian never disappoints. And the wonderful thing about his stories is that they are all so different, and well researched. He doesn’t stick to a formula, and I love him for it. The Red Lotus is a fascinating mystery set mainly in Vietnam, where Alexis and Austin have gone for vacation. Except Austin had more than a vacation in mind. When he goes missing, everything Alexis thought she knew is questioned. A romantic vacation that turns into a biological plague thriller....so good!
PatriciaFairweatherRomero 11 days ago
Alexis is an ER Doctor. She's seen plenty of strange things and people. One Saturday night she meets a man named Austin who has a bullet in his shoulder. Details are sketchy and the man waiting for him is a bit off too. Turns out some crazy guy walked into a bar and just started shooting. About six months later they are in love, not living together but already traveling to Vietnam on a bicycle tour with his friends. Alexis is not there for cycling. She is there to support her boyfriend on this particular tour where his uncle died and his father was wounded.  Then Austin doesn't come home. The only sign of him an energy gel pack on the road. When his body turns up, Alexis wants answers. What has Austin done? Besides lie and lie really well? For one he has left her in danger and not only her. The world. Okay, so that's the story. Scary premise but plausible. I just could not get into this one. I skimmed more that I read. NetGalley/Doubleday Books March 17, 2020
Jesssquire 11 days ago
I am absolutely astounded at how creepily timely and relevant "The red Lotus" is. This book will keep you guessing (and shivering from the heebie jeebies) the whole way through. This book has murder, international intrigue, plagues, pandemics, underhanded lab workers, nosy private detectives, and overbearing mothers! What a time to publish this book! Ive been turning off the news to get a break from virus and germs, but here it is! Somehow, this book makes these topics more palatable than than what's going on in the real world. Clearly, the author followed up "The Flight Attendant" with another fantastic mystery novel. I love Alexis. The author really nailed the bedside manner, or lack thereof, of an ER doctor. Her reactions to certain things were not what you would expect, but when you think about how she's an ER doctor who's trained to suppress her emotions, it makes sense. Her constant digging into the mystery of her boyfriend really showcases her training and skills as a diagnostician. Excellent character. I loved this book, notwithstanding how creeped out I was.
Anonymous 12 days ago
Chris Bohjalian's latest novel would be highly readable even if it weren't so ridiculously timely. The story and unfolds piece by piece and pulls you along with it as it does, making you want to know more, and at the same time dreading what comes next. Add to that tantalizing mis the fact that the book is about a potential pandemic, and there could be no more fitting novel for our time.
TorieStorieS 12 days ago
Well, I must say, Bohjalian's newest title certainly hit the shelves at an opportune time as far as its fictional subject somewhat reflecting today's state of affairs! It reads almost like a possible prequel to the daily dramas as more and more stores join restaurants in closing for a time. In the same vein as The Flight Attendant, this is a thriller with a bit more of a literary slant with slower pacing and more emphasis on the characters. Alexis is the main character, an accomplished ER doctor at a university hospital in NYC. When she meets and starts dating a biking enthusiast, Austin, they take a trip to bike parts of Vietnam - a tour that changes both of their lives forever. With multiple narrators, and the setting split between Vietnam and NYC, there is actually a lot crammed in here - from grief, self-harm, the legacies of the Vietnam War, rats and the dangers of a plague-like pathogen. Of course, it is this latter portion of the plot that really makes this such a timely novel. And I think readers who aren't looking for much of an escape from the news will really embrace this one - the first of I am sure many fictional representations with this sort of topic. I wish that I had felt more connected to the characters - Alexis in particular is quite isolated and never questions that her boyfriend of over six months similarly seems to do little else but work and bike. The beginning moves a bit too slowly, for me, too. The basic elements of a good story are all here though - maybe I was just looking for something a little bit more removed from the news. I never found myself disliking this one - Bohjalian remains a go-to-author me. I just wouldn't call this one of his stronger novels.
bella79954 12 days ago
You think you know someone... 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 The book follows many characters with Alexis at its core with her search for the truth and putting herself in harm's way to get to that truth. So, what's the truth? You will have to read to find out! 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 : ) I'm teetering between 3 and 3.5 stars. 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.
Anonymous 12 days ago
A nail-biting (wash your hands!) thriller about a deadly pathogen, by a best-selling novelist who writes grippingly AND beautifully. The Red Lotus kept me on the edge of my seat, all the while nourishing me with sentences such as "the swallows skipped like flat stones across the surface of the infinity pool..."