The Red Lotus: A Novel
by Chris Bohjalian
Paperback- $10.61

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant comes a twisting story of love and deceit: an American ...

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  "A Prescient Novel about a Possible Pandemic " by thewanderingjew (see profile) 07/09/20

The Red Lotus-A Novel, Chris Bohjalian, author; Rebecca Lowman, narrator
This is a diabolical novel about a scheme to cause a pandemic with the use of a biological weapon that spreads quickly, kills its victims and has no known treatment. Alexis is an Emergency Room doctor. While she is working her shift at the hospital, she meets Austin, a victim of a bullet wound. For the next seven months, they become an item, although they never discuss marriage or live together. He tells her a story about his relatives and their Vietnam wartime experiences, explaining that he wants to take a bike trip there, and at the same time, he wants to visit the sites of his family’s experiences there and to pay tribute to his father and his uncle. His father lived after being wounded, but his uncle did not survive the injuries he incurred as a soldier. He wants Alexis to join him.
Alexis and Austin travel together to a lovely inn in Vietnam, and one morning, Austin decides to take a bicycle ride, alone, without the group or an escort. When he does not return, an investigation into his disappearance begins. Slowly, Alexis learns that Austin is not the man she thought he was since he has kept many secrets from her and has told her many lies, as well. Who was the real Austin? Why did he travel to Vietnam? She wonders if he had another girlfriend there. She wonders if he had been kidnapped and was not the victim of a hit and run. What really happened to him in Vietnam? Will she be able to solve the mystery surrounding his disappearance? Did she love him?
The author has written a novel which seems very prescient about a plot to start a pandemic that resembles the one occurring today in the United States and the rest of the world. The disease is eerily similar as it attacks the lungs, causes fatigue, weakness, skin rashes, and fever, etc. How odd that Bohjalian should have written about a previously unknown bug, developed in a research lab that is capable of killing its victims and has no known cure. The book becomes ever more interesting because of the significance and relevance to our current events. This bug has been tested on rats, and it causes them to die a terribly painful death. The illness is devastating to them. Although rats can survive most everything, this bug defeats them. In the book, New York City is mentioned as the perfect place to spread the disease since it is densely populated, heavily uses mass transit, has an influx of tourists moving in and out, and has a huge rat population.
The book deals with the American interference in the Civil War that raged in Vietnam, between the North and the South. It points out that the use of devastating chemical weapons continued to have deleterious effects on future generations. While we call it the Vietnam War, they call it the American War, albeit a war far shorter than the one that France had fought there. Many still harbor anger and frustration about America’s involvement, while others wanted and appreciated American help/interference. It is largely anti-American regarding our involvement in the war since it caused terrible devastation there with Agent Orange, among other things. As the Vietnamese were bombed, many of the soldiers treated their service in-country as a vacation, complete with the use of a swimming pool. Ultimately, of course, many soldiers suffered from the same consequences of the American weapons as the Vietnamese did. Was the use of Agent Orange as morally wrong and as devastating as the effort to spread a pandemic with a biological weapon? One has to consider the morality of both efforts as one reads the book. The people behind the plan to sell the bug to our enemies were barbaric and cold-blooded murderers. Was America the same when it deforested Vietnam and murdered the innocent in their effort to halt the spread of Communism there?
In addition to being about a biological weapon with the potential to cause a pandemic, the book is about the American legacy of guilt in Vietnam. Because the book is about a pandemic, so close to what the world is experiencing now, it is a compelling read.
The red lotus is the national flower of Vietnam. It symbolizes healing, with its beauty being capable of spiritually healing a broken heart. Alexis is the red lotus of the novel. Will she heal the country?

  "" by ebach (see profile) 03/14/21

I can’t speak highly enough of THE RED LOTUS.

?If your preferred genre is thriller but so many books billed as "psychological thriller" don’t do much for you, if you want a literary thriller and one that is intelligent, THE RED LOTUS is for you. This book is a 5-star can’t-put-it-down read, and Chris Bohjalian obviously assumes his readers are smart.

Alexis, an ER doctor, and her boyfriend Austin, who works at the same hospital but on the administrative end, are visiting Vietnam on a bike tour. When Austin takes off for a solo bike ride but does not return by the appointed time, police in Vietnam begin their investigation. Soon thereafter Austin’s body is found, and a thrilling mystery begins.

Even after Alexis returns to the United States, the police captain in Vietnam continues his investigation. But Alexis can’t just sit and wait; she hires a private investigator to look into what happened and why.

Remember as you read this: almost no one is who they seem.

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/04/21

  "" by bibliosara (see profile) 11/10/22

The first book I've read by Chris Bohjalian, The Red Lotus was an excellent introduction to this talented author. A thrilling and eerie novel that takes readers from the US to Vietnam and back, from the emergency room to research labs, from young love to deadly conspiracies. A web of lies is revealed after Alexis, an ER doctor, discovers her boyfriend of less than a year has died on their bicycle tour of Vietnam. A deadly pathogen is on the verge of being let loose… but only a few know, and Alexis isn't (or is she?) one of them. Bohjalian ties together multiple themes - relationships between parents and children, the effect of the Vietnam War/American War on both countries, and the development from ignorant greed to complicit immorality - seamlessly throughout the book. Although I'm not completely shocked by the ending, it was satisfying and somewhat eerie considering when Bohjalian wrote the book (in association with the pandemic).
A few points to keep in mind for fellow readers in terms of content: there is talk about past self harm and self-harm thoughts throughout the book (it is done well, and does not glorify it, but can be hard to read), and there are rats (A. Lot. Of. Rats.). Language and violence are present but minimal.

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