What to withhold, what to reveal, when to dole out information and in what manner—these are among the hardest decisions for an author to make in any thriller, particularly one with this many moving parts. Bohjalian strikes a fine balance between disclosure and secrecy ... there are many intriguing questions that Bohjalian takes his time answering ... There’s an array of pleasantly unsettling characters here ... Bohjalian is a pleasure to read. He writes muscular, clear, propulsive sentences. Even his unlikely scenes ring true, as in a tour-de-force climactic episode set inside a rat-research lab ... As suspenseful as it is, The Red Lotus is also unexpectedly moving ... Bohjalian is a writer with a big heart and deep compassion for his characters.
... written through the alternate perspectives of a number of well-drawn characters ... The good and bad hunches of Alexis and her allies propel her closer to the truth, while her Holmesian devotion to 'pattern recognition' never ceases deductive reasoning can take you only so far in a thriller as full of surprises as this one. Those who relished the sudden shocks and well-timed twists of Mr. Bohjalian’s 2018 work, The Flight Attendant, should be well-pleased by his latest book, whose unexpected revelations extend to the final sentence.
The plot becomes labyrinthine as we move back and forth between New York and Vietnam, joined by more characters and more unsettling facts about rats ... readers who crave suspense will get it, along with a grim chill ... They will get, as well, a resolution that swiftly unsnarls the many narrative threads, metes out punishments to the evil and (mostly) spares the good ... Bohjalian’s focus on current problems in his novels is admirable, and in this case feels prescient; but the villains in The Red Lotus are such sociopaths, and some of the plot twists so farfetched, that the specter of biological warfare begins to feel improbable instead of truly threatening. Which may seem like a book critic’s quibble, until you consider that opting for diversion and reassurance—rather than paying attention to clear warnings—got us to where we are now.
... excellent in the way that Bohjalian’s work is always excellent – smart, crisply-paced, well-plotted – but it also happens to feature a central plot point revolving around the threat of a weaponized disease. While there are essentially zero actual similarities between Bohjalian’s plot and current events, the timing of the book’s release means that the comparison is unavoidable ... once you move past that odd bit of synchronicity, you can enjoy this book for what it is – a taut and twisting work that features the intrigue and idiosyncrasy that are hallmarks of Bohjalian’s work. It is evocative and exciting, a quick and engaging read that will prove a welcome experience for fans of thrillers ... One of the joys of Bohjalian’s work is the delicate intricacy of his plotting; he has a wonderful knack for layering his storylines, switching perspectives and leaping from point to point. These shifts allow us to engage with the truly tangled web that is The Red Lotus while still keeping the characters in the dark. Not every writer is comfortable leaning into the notion that the reader can know more about what’s going on than the characters, but Bohjalian is confident enough in his talents to do just that, deftly maneuvering the narrative in such a way as to surprise us all, character and reader alike ... a globe-spanning adventure, one that combines international intrigue with the high-adrenaline, high-pressure realm of the big city emergency room. It’s a book that sets the healers against those who would do harm, the selfless against the selfish. It is sweeping and relentless in its pacing, with Bohjalian unleashing his usual well-honed dialogue. If you’re hungry for thrills, this book will feed that need.
... a literary thriller, an oxymoronic hybrid that wouldn’t seem to satisfy readers of either parent genre ... proves that the two forms shouldn’t interbreed. The central plot element is a serviceable foundation for a thriller. But the story unfolds at such a slow place, with so little excitement and a protagonist so unengaging, that the reader may well lose interest by page 100 ... Bohjalian’s literary touches include 10 pages of backstory on Alexis and her mother. Two paragraphs of each would have sufficed. Austin’s parents and Alexis’ horribly awkward interactions with them get far too much attention without moving the plot along ... If the reader sticks with the book until the end, there is a satisfying resolution, but then the author tacks on an epilogue that completely ruins any goodwill he may have generated with the preceding story. His editor should have applied the same principle to this epilogue that the great Elmore Leonard applied to prologues: Don’t write them.
In this tightly drawn, steadily hair-raising thriller, Bohjalian...once again demonstrates his keen affinity for strong, capable female protagonists, while his masterful merging of setting and plot delivers a cerebral and dramatic dive into what happens when love turns to agony.
... [an] intricately plotted thriller ... Each character, including secondary players, is carefully drawn, and Bohjalian keeps the tension high all the way to the surprising finale. Bohjalian’s many fans and newcomers alike will be satisfied.
... [a] breathless thriller ... Abetted by shifting points of view, seemingly disparate elements eventually converge to create a burgeoning sense of dread ... tantalizing questions ... Bohjalian manages to keep us guessing and turning pages until the very end.