Book Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Cassie Bowden, aka the flight attendant, is in deep trouble. She’s just woken up in a Dubai hotel room to find her one night stand with his throat slashed. She can’t remember what happened the night before and, even worse, she’s kind of wondering if she killed the guy.

The Flight Attendant is a recent addition to a genre that I’ve dubbed the Crazy Lady Thriller (thnk Gone Girl, The Woman in the Window, The Woman in Cabin 10 and just about every other recent thriller with Girl or Woman in the title). And Cassie Bowden does this genre proud. She’s an aging, promiscuous binge drinker who also lies a lot and engages in occasional petty theft. She’s enough of a loose cannon that she keeps the reader a little off kilter, which is a characteristic of this genre.

Cassie meets a younger hedge fund manager, Alex, on a flight to Dubai. They go out for a nice meal and then go back to Alex’s hotel room where they proceed to get so hammered that Cassie blacks out. When she wakes up the next morning next to a very dead Alex, she struggles to recall what happened the previous night, but there are big gaps in her memory. However, one thing is very clear to her – she does not want to be a woman being tried for murder in a middle eastern country. So she tampers with the evidence, hangs the Do Not Disturb sign on the door and hightails it back to New York.

Now it’s a waiting game because Cassie knows the authorities will catch up with her. But this is no ordinary waiting game because it involves the train wreck that is Cassie. She goes to bars, hooks up with another strange man and lies to the FBI. But the FBI’s noose is getting tighter and Cassie has also attracted the attention of the Russian mob because young Alex wasn’t quite what he appeared to be. The wait is about to end.

This Flight Attendant was pretty good although the ending was a little meh. I have to admit that I’m not a connoisseur of Crazy Lady Thrillers. Whenever I research them on Amazon, even the popular ones don’t average more than 4 stars and the distribution of reviews is mixed.

Here are the Amazon ratings for Gone Girl:

Here’s The Girl on the Train:

And here is The Woman in Cabin 10:

Strange, isn’t it? Maybe the standards haven’t been established yet for what makes for a great Crazy Lady Thriller? Or maybe the genre just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Regardless, The Flight Attendant kept me entertained, although I spent most of my reading time being annoyed with Cassie. I suspect being annoyed with characters is just a byproduct, if not a goal, of this genre. As a bonus, the novel contains plenty of insider secrets about the frontlines of the airline industry. Overall, I give it lukewarm recommendation.

What’s your favorite Crazy Lady Thriller? Tell us about it below.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

  1. My favorite Crazy Lady Thriller is my marriage! Just kidding, Dear!

    I think this genre has a lot of potential. Every novelist begins with a blank page, and then reveals what they want you to know in a certain progression. You could really use this to explore the human condition by changing what is known to the reader bit by bit. For example, if the reader knows X about a character, then the reader may develop a certain emotional response to her acts. But if the writer then adds Y to the reader’s knowledge base, how does this change the reader’s initial reactions to the main character’s actions? What does this say about the main character? The reader? Perhaps the author, too?

    I haven’t read anything in this genre, but I really like Carrie’s character in the tv she Homeland (No spoilers, don’t worry.). She is very imperfect and so we are often conflicted about how she’s acting, but ultimately admirable and likable, and we pull for her, despite her Crazy Lady attributes. The writers struck a very good balance.

    Thanks for posting! I’m about to get on a flight to take my boy to see his grandmother, and I’m toting the latest Harry Potter. Yes, I am 52 . . . 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you about the genre – often stories like this make better movies (or TV shows) than books. But I’m interested in airline stuff, so might give this one a shot. Thanks for not giving away the ending!


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