“I still thought we might be okay. Do nothing — nothing more– lie low, and it will all go away. And then he told me he had done exactly the opposite of what I had asked, and I knew for sure the walls were closing in. And it was all because of that ER doctor. She was like a dog with a bone.”
Thank you to Doubleday Books for the opportunity to read Chris Bohjalian’s newest book THE RED LOTUS before its release date.
“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 bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in?”
Having previously read other novels by Bohjalian, I was thrilled to be included in the Mystery Book Club discussion of THE RED LOTUS. When I settled in to start reading this one, I was a bit surprised as to how quickly the story took off. On page one, the reader is thrown into the situation involving Austin and his abduction. While I thought that the storyline would center around Alexis’s search for her missing boyfriend, it took a completely different turn than I was prepared for. The book got dark, fast.
Once the initial turmoil surrounding Austin occurred, the storyline took a few steps back and began a slow burn until the last 50 pages of the book. Instead of only hearing from Alexis’ point of view, I was granted glimpses into other characters’ backgrounds which allowed me to have a broader understanding of what was occurring. I love when books include other characters’ points of view, it adds much more to the story.
I was largely impressed with the development of Alexis’s character; she was pleasantly refreshing. Instead of being written as a ‘damsel in distress’ after discovering what happened to Austin; she took on a different role. While searching for the truth, she didn’t wallow in sadness but stepped up and was written as a fairly powerful and intellectual woman.
I will also give Bojhalian credit since a lot of authors can make a book with scientific references difficult to follow but that wasn’t the case with THE RED LOTUS. I was able to follow along with what was happening and a lot of the context was relayed to me in a way that I could follow along without feeling lost in the scientific jargon.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I am glad that I read this before the situation of our world came to light as the storyline of THE RED LOTUS hits a little too close for comfort right now. But, please don’t let that deter you from adding this book to your reading list
Thank you, Doubleday Books and Mystery, Book Club for the opportunity to read this novel.
THE RED LOTUS will be published on March 17, 2020, and is available to pre-order now!