A hard-partying flight attendant runs afoul of Russian conspirators.
Cassandra Bowden, like her namesake, the prophetess who is never believed, has problems. A flight attendant since college, Cassie, now nearing 40, has a penchant for drinking to the blackout point and sleeping with strange men. On a flight to Dubai, while serving in first class, she flirts with hedge fund manager Alex Sokoloff, an American with Russian roots and oligarchic connections. She repairs to his hotel room, and during the drunken bacchanal that follows, Miranda, apparently a business acquaintance of Alex’s, visits with more vodka. The next morning Cassie wakes up next to Alex, who lies dead, his throat cut. She has blacked out much of the night, so although she’d grown rather fond of him, how can she be sure she didn’t kill him? Rushing back for the return flight, she decides not to disclose what happened, at least not until she's back home in New York City, where the justice system is arguably less draconian than in Dubai. At JFK, the FBI interviews the deplaning crew, and Cassie plays dumb. Unfortunately, her walk of shame through the hotel lobby was captured on security cam. Sporadically intercut with Cassie’s point of view is that of Elena, a Russian assassin for hire, who had presented herself as Miranda in Alex’s hotel room. After being thwarted by Cassie’s presence from executing Alex then, she returned to finish the job but decided not to make collateral damage of his passed-out bedmate, a bad call she must rectify per her sinister handler, Viktor. In the novel’s flabby midsection, Cassie continues to alternately binge-drink and regret the consequences as her lawyer, her union, and even the FBI struggle to protect her from herself. Although Bohjalian (The Sleepwalker, 2017, etc.) strives to render Cassie sympathetic, at times he can’t resist taking a judgmental stance toward her. As Cassie’s addiction becomes the primary focus, the intricate plotting required of an international thriller lags.
The moral overcomes the mystery in this sobering cautionary tale.