The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian is a slow burning suspense novel that is so much more than a murder mystery. This novel combines a murder disguised as a hit and run, with antibiotic resistant virus testing on rats and corrupt medical practices. Set in Vietnam and New York City, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat and the timeliness of the pandemic will give you the creeps.
ER doctor, Alexis, has her own demons she grapples with while she triages patients through the ER. She has been dating Austin for six months and their relationship seems great on the outside. They plan a biking trip to Vietnam, where Austin doesn't return from his bike ride. Austin is found dead on the side of the road by an apparent hit and run. Things do not add up for Alexis and she soon discovers that Austin is not who he portrayed himself to be.
I love uncovering the truth about characters chapter after chapter. The plot builds with The Red Lotus until it accumulates into a perfect climax. The Red Lotus is a combination of murder mystery and the movie Contagion. I am weirdly into reading books about pandemics, so I was into this one. Chris Bohjalian's writing is smart and sinister. The Vietnam aspect was something I really enjoyed as my father in law is a Vietnam vet. Between chapters, there are snippets of history behind the affects of Agent Orange on the villages, residents, and the rats living in the area. I found that fascinating and it helped add context and texture to the story.
The chapters alternate between Alexis' perspective, the private investigator she hires to uncover what really happened to Austin, and Douglas Webber, the psychopath who had a hand in Austin's death. Each chapter peeled back more of the truth and kept the plot moving.
"Got to be ready for the next pandemic. Got to have new antibiotics. Got to know what we're up against, I mean, it's coming and New York City is the perfect place for a catastrophe: we have lots of people living in very close quarters."
How eerie is this quote?!
Read if you like:
Crime novels, Harlan Coben fans