on March 13, 2018
Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police--she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home--Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?
I spend much of my life chasing my next Gone Girl-esque thrill. Ever since I read Gillian Flynn’s domestic thriller that turned the world upside down and ruined many a first date, I’ve sought the next book that gave me the same reaction. What reaction?
The only other book I’ve found since then has been Big Little Lies, and I read that a long time ago. So when I was looking for something to spend an Audible credit on, I flipped to the mystery & thriller section and saw that The Flight Attendant had just come out as a new release, and better still, it was receiving great acclaim. So I gave it a download, and listened to its 11-odd hours over the course of many a work commute and a road trip. I finished it last night driving home from grad school night classes, and felt the same jaw-dropping sensation that had washed over me when I closed the cover of Gone Girl. This is a good one, friends.
How I’d Describe This Book To A Friend
Cassandra Bowden is an asshole, plain and simple. An alcoholic who grew up in a broken home, she pursues her rockstar flight attendant life with irreverent gusto – sleeping with anyone she’d like, drinking herself sick and then waking up and doing it all over again. She is reliable with her job, though not so much in other, more personal matters.
One day, on a flight to Dubai, Cassie takes a liking to a man named Alex in her section on the plane. After some mild-mannered flirting, she goes back to his hotel room with him, for a night of drinking and debauchery. At one point a colleague of his named Miranda comes over, bringing more liquor, before she goes back to her hotel room. Cassie has every intention of going back to her own hotel – she has to work the next day, after all – but she must have blacked out, because when she wakes up, she’s still in Alex’s room. He’s still there next to her, sleeping solidly. So Cassie is a little shocked, to say the least, when she adjusts her hungover brain to the light and sees that Alex isn’t moving not because he’s a sound sleeper, but because he is super dead – somebody slit his throat in the night. But Cassie wouldn’t have done that, right? She blacked out sometimes, but not that badly … right? But if she didn’t do it, then who did?
What follows is a slow-burning thriller told in alternating perspectives – Cassie and Miranda. We know early on that Miranda is who killed Alex – this is not a spoiler, it’s blatantly obvious 20 pages into the book. What keeps the plot moving forward compulsively is that we know what Cassie doesn’t – we know who did it, and we are in Miranda’s head – we know what she plans to do next. She should have killed Cassie, and now she has to go finish what she started …
The Bottom Line
I didn’t see the last 100 pages or so of this book coming. It was a total surprise, which was amazing. Time flew by while listening to this audiobook, and I loved every minute of it. There was something about Cassie’s suffering that brought on a crazy amount of schadenfreude.
She knows she is a train wreck. You know she is a train wreck. But she is an addict, and by definition, it’s not easy to just cold turkey kick these habits. You’ll feel for Cassie while at the same time wanting to just smack her upside the head. While flawed, she is truly a good person deep down and is one of the most realistic, nuanced main characters I’ve ever read – she is not perfect, nor do we expect her to be.
I highly suggest getting on a flight with Cassie and experiencing her life – you’ll never look at the other passengers on a plane ride the same way again.