Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Red Lotus

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian (2020), narrated by Rebecca Lowman

It was all very dramatic because I was on hold for this book through the library but by the time it was published we were closed because of the coronavirus. Also, a friend had mentioned to me that the audio version was narrated by Rebecca Lowman, one of my favorite (possibly my very favorite) narrators. So I bought some extra Audible credits, and it was worth every penny.

Alexis is an emergency room doctor who met her boyfriend Austin when he came to the ER with a bullet wound. In a strange coincidence, it turns out that he works there too, but in a fundraising position. Six months later they are on a bicycling trip in Vietnam and Austin goes missing. I won't say much more about the plot because I don't want to give too much away, but the story really becomes intriguing when Alexis learns Austin lied about one of the reasons why he wanted to go to Vietnam.

On top of what happened to Austin, Alexis then has to deal with the fact of that lie and what it meant about the person she thought she knew. Having their relationship be fairly new is what made this storyline great. And there's more - there's a whole plot having to do with rats and disease and what Austin potentially had to do with it.

This book shouldn't have made me want to go on a bike tour of Vietnam, but it did and I don't even ride a bike. Vietnam sounded gorgeous though. The novel is very much in the same vein of Bohjalian's last couple of books, The Flight Attendant and The Guest Room, as opposed to his older books. A little bit mystery, a little bit thriller, very much character-driven. Alexis has some darkness in her past, but as an emergency room doctor she has learned to be calm in difficult circumstances. I really liked being immersed in her story, and Rebecca Lowman was the perfect narrator for her. (Honestly I think I like characters more when she narrates them.)

You probably know that Chris Bohjalian is one of my favorite authors and I've read all of his books except I think The Water Witches. The only other one I've listened to on audio was Before You Know Kindness because I happened to come into a free copy of it. They are the kind of books I don't have the patience to stretch out into 2 weeks, which is how long it usually takes me for an audiobook. But thanks to the pandemic, I've been at home with nothing but knitting and puzzles to occupy me which has been the perfect environment for this. If you've liked his other recent books, you'll likely enjoy this one too. And if you're into audio, I do highly recommend that version.

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