The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian

A Review

The Red Lotus book cover
(Publication Date March 2020)

Chris Bohjalian has delivered another page-turner. If you’re a fan, you know better than to expect a formula in his plots, but he is consistent about his strong suit: characters.

In The Red Lotus, he artfully pulls us into the psyche of Alexis, the main character; the PI she hires to help her; Alexis’s overbearing mother, and even her veterinarian best friend.

The glimpses of raw human reality of their lives make it easy to — impossible not to — identify with these people. We have shared experiences, so we understand them. We know why Alexis is driven to solve the riddle of why her boyfriend lied to about their trip to Vietnam and how he ended up dead. We understand why the PI goes against his friend’s recommendation and takes up Alexis’s cause.

What we don’t get is much of any view into the motivations and justifications of the bad guys, for lack of a better word. As much as I enjoy the Godfathers and Dexters of the literary world, it’s refreshing to not be asked to sympathize, much less empathize, with the evil-doers this time around.

Every Bohjalian novel leaves me thinking about at least one of the characters as if he or she were a friend I want to stay in touch with. In this case, there are at least three. That makes this a 5-star read for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for this advanced readers copy.

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