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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Two Terrific Mysteries That Will Have You Guessing Until the Very End

Reprinted from the Citizen:

Sometimes a novelist will write a story that, when published, often more than a year later, is so topical that you wonder if the author has a crystal ball. Two recent novels, filled with nail-biting suspense and an end twist that will stun you, fit that bill.
Author Chris Bohjalian has written nearly two-dozen books, and what sets him apart as a writer is that he writes in so many different genres. He has written historical fiction (“The Sandcastle Girls," “A Light in the Ruins”), a ghost story (“The Night Strangers”), mystery (“The Double Bind,” “The Sleepwalker”), romance (“Trans-Sister Radio”) and a coming-of-age story (“Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands"). What they all have in common is that they make you think. 
His latest novel, “The Flight Attendant,” begins with flight attendant Cassie waking up hungover in a stranger’s bed in Dubai. While most people might be frightened by this fact, Cassie is used to it.
Cassie frequently drinks until she passes out or blacks out and sleeps around. This morning, she vaguely remembers that she came back to Alex’s hotel room, got drunk on vodka and had wild sex.
She painfully opens her eyes and looks over to find that Alex, a man who flew first-class on Cassie’s flight, has had his throat slit from end to end, and is covered in blood. Cassie panics: Did she do this? She has never been violent before.
Cassie quickly showers the blood off herself, tries desperately to wipe away any fingerprints she may have left behind, and rushes to get back to her hotel and her flight back home. Calling the police in Dubai is not a good idea.
The flight home to New York was stressful, and Cassie’s friend, another flight attendant, notices that Cassie is crying and upset. When the police begin to question the airplane crew about Alex, someone tells them that Cassie and Alex got very chummy.
Cassie remembers that a female work acquaintance of Alex’s showed up that night. What she doesn’t know is that the woman, Elena, is a Russian assassin who works for some oligarchs whom Alex supposedly stole money from.
The tension is racheted up as Cassie tries to figure out who Alex was and who killed him, and Elena monitors Cassie, hoping she doesn’t have to kill her in this cat-and-mouse game that will have your heart in your throat until the crazy twist at the end. Anyone who is a fan of TV’s “The Americans," about Russian spies among us, should put “The Flight Attendant” on their list.
Alafair Burke is a former prosecutor turned author. Her newest novel, “The Wife,” tells the story of Angela and Jason Powell and their teenage son Spencer. Jason is a media sensation, author of popular nonfiction book “Equalnomics," NYU professor and owner of a consulting company that advises other companies on “how to make corporate decisions based on principles of equality.” He is the darling of the liberal 1-percenters. 
Angela was from the other side of the tracks on Long Island. She worked as a caterer to wealthy Hamptonites, where she met Jason, who swept her off her feet. Jason loves Angela and her young son Spencer, and they made a happy home in Chelsea, with Spencer at a private school and Angela at home caring for both of them.
All is well until the day a young intern accuses Jason of sexual harassment. He quickly becomes persona non grata until a police investigation is completed. His name is splashed all over the media, and the family comes under the spotlight, something that frightens Angela.
There is something in Angela’s past that she doesn’t want to come to light. She has gone to great lengths to begin a new life with Jason, and this incident could jeopardize that.
Then another woman accuses Jason of rape, and Angela now begins to doubt Jason. Could he have done what these women said he did?
A dogged female police detective is determined to get to the bottom of this when the woman who accused Jason of rape suddenly disappears. She believes there is more to the Powell family’s story.
There are so many layers to this gripping story. Burke keeps you guessing at to what the real story is, and there is more than one twist that will leave you breathless. By the time you get to the end, your head will be spinning. “The Wife” is a first-class mystery from a fantastic writer.

If you read

PUBLISHER: Doubleday
COST: Hardcover $26.95
LENGTH: 368 pages

COST: Hardcover $26.99
LENGTH: 352 pa
Diane La Rue is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and blogs about books at http://bookchickdi.blogspot.com. You can follow her on Twitter @bookchickdi, and she can be emailed at laruediane2000@yahoo.com.


  1. Bohjalian is a favorite of mine so I'm sure I'll be reading The Flight Attendant at some point. I've seen a lot of good things about The Wife and need to get my hands on it.

  2. I'll likely get to The Wife sometime as I enjoyed Burke's earlier book The Ex. Did you read that? She's quite a good crime/legal thriller author. The Wife sounds like a doozy.

  3. I met Bohjalian once when he gave an author talk and it was my job to drive him to/from the airport. But I never read the book he was talking about -- I don't know why. Maybe I should try again.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com