The main character, as the title suggests, is a flight attendant. She is not at all likable. Cassandra Bowden is largely a drunk and a liar. She sleeps around and makes ridiculous decisions and choices making one wonder how safe it would be to on a plane if she was working the shift. On one of her flights to Dubai, she meets an American and makes plans to see him later on that night, as she often does with the men she meets. They drink, they have sex, and then she says goodbye and flies off again. In this instance, they both drank so much that they passed out. When she awoke, she discovered that she was lying next to a blood covered dead man whose blood had even seeped into her hair. The only thing she remembered, though, besides their heavy drinking, was a mystery woman who called herself Miranda who had brought them a bottle of some very fine liquor, a bottle which wound up smashed on the floor of the room. She had no memory of his murder or the reason for it. She hoped she did not do it!
Cassandra was terrified. She didn’t know the laws in Dubai. What would happen to her if she called security to report the murder? What would happen if they discovered it after she left? Would she ever get back to the United States? Could she have killed him? Could she be extradited? Would she be charged with murder? All of these questions went through her head. She seemed to panic and decided to run. After attempting to clean up, wiping down the room and getting rid of any incriminating evidence, she leaves the room, seemingly unaware, apparently, of cameras in the hallways, videos that are recording her movements around the hotel and possibly even in the streets outside. As she runs, she throws out some of her personal belongings to hide evidence but also discovers that she cannot find her lipstick or lip balm with the logo from the airline. Will they be discovered? Although she thinks a lot about her predicament, she doesn’t seem to take her situation that seriously; she continues to sleep around and get drunk. When pictures surface that show it could very well have been her in the hotel with the dead man, although she had been lying and denying it when she was questioned, she realizes that she needs a lawyer. The union provided a lawyer for her, but often she defies her and does not follow her advice, endangering herself and others. Is there a killer out there? Is the killer looking for her? Is she a spy? Was the dead man a spy, a terrorist? All of these questions are plausible, but the story seems less so.
As the story moves on, it turns out that the mystery woman who entered the room is Russian. Her real name is not Miranda. She was brought up in luxury, in Russia, by a well connected father, as opposed to Cassandra who was brought up in America by a father who was a drunk, and she was always short of money. The circumstances surrounding both of their upbringings shaped each of them and pointed them in the directions their lives would take. Both women had problems.
The male narrator did a fine job, but one of the females so over-emoted and over exaggerated the accents of some foreign expressions that it was often indecipherable. She seemed to be making herself an integral part of the story, rather than an adjunct to it. It was distracting.
The ending was unexpected, and also, almost unbelievable as the true identities of several characters was revealed. I usually wait with baited breath for this author to come out with a new book, but this one seemed a bit out of character for him and was a bit of a disappointment. I had to suspend disbelief often as the plot unraveled in implausible directions and often felt contrived. Still, if you are a fan of Bohjalian, you will not hate this book; you just might not love it.