THE RED LOTUS by Chris Bohjalian

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From the publisher:

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.


There is no feeling better than to pick up a book by an author that I have read in the past and find that he is not mired in one style of book. That in writing a novel that is nothing at all like the previous one I read, found it as good, and not at all similar to his past writings. The Red Lotus is Chris Bohjalian at his best, a great story, well written with excellent development of principal characters.

Alexis is a young doctor who is one of the emergency room physicians in the hospital she works in. She is dedicated to and good at what she does. While her love life is somewhat limited by the hours she works she does date. The strangest date she manages is when Austin is brought in with a bullet wound in his arm. His story is that he got caught up in a fight between other men in a bar and by bad luck got in the way of the gunshot. Austin, also coincidentally works at the same hospital that Alexis does, although in another department. The two begin dating and seem to be getting more and more involved. Austin’s hobby and greatest interest is bike riding, but not just around the neighborhood, but on long-distance runs with organized groups.

About eight months after the two meet, Austin invites Alexis to go with him on an organized tour sponsored by a professional biker’s organization to Vietnam. He tells her that besides the ride he wants to visit two sites for family reasons. At one, his uncle was killed, and at the other, his father wounded during the Vietnam war. Arriving there Austin decides that he wants to go by himself to visit the two sites and does so. When he doesn’t return and can’t be found by the group searching both the Vietnamese police and the American FBI representative in the area are called in to help.

Alexis has to return to the US and to work but decides she wants to see if she can find out what happened to Austin and hires a private detective. In a short time a body is brought back to the US with Alexis identifying it as that of Austin. What is the reason for his death if not the one of natural causes shown at first sight? The well told story unfolds with Alexis and the private detective looking at a possible connection at the hospital where she and Austin worked. Discovery of facts and clues are found by judicious logic and the reader is left with the obvious desire to get Bohjalian’s next book as soon as published.

3/2020 Paul Lane

THE RED LOTUS by Chris Bohjalian. Grand Central Publishing (March 17, 2020). ISBN: 978-1538748145. 384p.

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