Filled with turbulence and sudden plunges in altitude, The Flight Attendant is a very rare thriller whose penultimate chapter made me think to myself, 'I didn’t see that coming.' The novel — Bohjalian’s 20th — is also enhanced by his deftness in sketching out vivid characters and locales and by his obvious research into the realities of airline work ... The Flight Attendant is the ultimate airplane book, and not just because of its name: entertaining and filled with inside info on the less glamorous aspect of flight crew’s lives, it may even make you more politely attentive the next time you’re asked to listen to that in-flight lecture on emergency water landings.
Mr. Bohjalian twists the tension tight and keeps the surprises startling. For a good half of The Flight Attendant, the reader is rooting for the story’s dubious protagonist. But Cassie in peril, like Cassie pre-Dubai, refuses to toe the line, ignoring the advice and disobeying the instructions of those trying to help. It’s a bit hard to maintain sympathy for a character so perversely inclined to remain, in the words of one deadly pursuer, 'either a wild card or something far worse.'
He’s back-loaded the story with twists, from ones that were hinted at early to left-field surprises. And the brisk and busy ending is a fireworks show of redemption, revelation and old-fashioned gunplay. That knack for speedy narrative can be a fault at times: Scenes from the assassin’s perspective are relatively underdrawn, and for all the globetrotting the characters do, from New York to Dubai to Rome, there’s little vivid scenery to take in. But Bohjalian clears room in this no-nonsense narrative for moments of humor and sensitivity. He’s done his homework on the lives of flight attendants, and the abuse and absurdity they often face ... In that regard, it’s an assured novel about reckoning not just with some ruthless bad guys, but private sadness as well.