After Alexis's boyfriend Austin goes missing during their trip to Vietnam, she uncovers a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in?
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.