The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian, 2020
Alexis, ER doc
Austin, her boyfriend
The Plot (from Goodreads):
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?
Very amusing that a book with plague themes (although rats, not bats) was published in March 2020! It’s scary that his work of fiction more or less turned into our reality.
I liked the structure of the book, how the alternating viewpoints came together to tell the whole story. The varying perspectives kept the reader guessing in a way that wasn’t too jarring or confusing.
I love a strong female protagonist, and Alexis didn’t disappoint. She is smart and resilient, and won’t give up as she searches for answers about who Austin was and why he died. Juxtaposed with this is her obvious suffering, as she struggles not to fall back into her old patterns of cutting when she is distressed. I thought this struggle was really humanizing, and did a good job of making Alexis seem like a relatable flawed human.
The facts about Vietnam and the Vietnamese War that were thrown in throughout the story were very interesting. I also loved the description of the Vietnamese settings. I said this on a recent view, but when I can’t travel, I love to read about places I haven’t been yet!
Also I love the cover.
If you liked this book, check out:
- The Power Couple by Alex Berenson