The Red Lotus, Chris Bohjalian 2020

Bohjalian weaves a tangled web in this page-turner about an ER doctor in NYC who goes to Vietnam with her boyfriend for a bike tour and comes home alone.  While on the tour, the boyfriend,  Austin, convinces the tour leaders and Alexis Remnick (the ER doc) that he needs to go off on his own for a day long ride to visit sites where his father was wounded and his uncle was killed in the Vietnam War.  When he doesn’t return, the story shifts into high gear, and we learn that Austin was not who he pretended to be.  Not only that, but he turns up dead and the story moves back and forth from NYC to Vietnam as Alexis pursues the truth about who Austin really was.  The suspense works; the characters are realistic and appealing; the plot races along; and the ending, though a bit rushed and contrived, actually ties things up nearly.  I’ll avoid a ‘spoiler alert’, but will divulge that this turns out to be another pandemic thriller.  Don’t we have enough of that in real life!!!!

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