Thank you so much to Doubleday for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Red Lotus, which will hit bookshelves near you on March 17, 2020. I have long been a fan of Chris Bohjalian. I read Midwives, Trans-Sister Radio, and The Law of Similars in high school. I remember also really loving some of his more recent works, especially Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands and The Guest Room. He’s a phenomenal writer and really knows how to create dynamic characters.
This story takes place in New York City and in the Vietnamese countryside, where a young couple — Alexis & Austin — are taking a bicycle tour. Austin leaves Alexis at the hotel with the rest of the group so he can go ride a bit on his own, and spiritually connect with his uncle who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Austin is an experienced biker, so she’s not concerned — until he’s been missing for hours. As she gets American ambassadors & Vietnamese law enforcement involved in the search, she learns that Austin was not who he appeared to be.
Chris Bohjalian does an awesome job of slowly racheting up the tension in his novels, and this is no exception. This is a slow burn — though sometimes a little too slow — but when the action ramps up, it is beautifully done. There is real fear here — rats galore (EW!), a contagious deadly virus — and it is a frighteningly believable story. There was a lot of science behind the scenes that I didn’t totally understand, but I feel that it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the plot.
I really liked how layered this story became. It seemed simple on the surface, but more and more characters and concepts entered the story and made it fascinating to see how all of these loose ends came together in the end. The ending is action-packed and riveting to read.
I truly enjoyed this novel and am so grateful to Doubleday for sending along the ARC & a really beautiful Red Lotus pin. This was a 4/5 star read and I can’t wait to hear what YOU think when you read it!