Martin's Must Reads: 'The Red Lotus'

Mar 23, 2021

“I’ve had lotus soup and lotus tea. They were delicious. My grandmother won’t eat them.Lotus flowers? She thinks they’re sacred. Especially the red lotus. I’m not surprised. I saw so many crypts in the city of the dead outside of Hue with beautiful lotus flowers carved on them.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that conversation is the first time a connection is made to the title of Chris Bohjalian’s newest mystery The Red Lotus. The next time it occurs in the book it’s used as the name of a new pathogen being developed to sell for use in biological warfare. A pathogen that can kill within hours and will have no cure.

The entire story takes place over eleven days. It begins with ER doctor Alexis Remnick and her boyfriend of six months, Austin Harper, on a bicycle tour in Vietnam. On day one of the story Austin has gone off by himself on a grueling bike ride to ostensibly visit the places where his father was wounded and his uncle was killed during the Vietnam War. Austin never returns and his body is found at the bottom of a hill the next day from what appears to be a hit and run bike accident. But too many things do not add up for Alexis and the local police.

Interspersed throughout the book is information about rats and plagues and what appears to be diary entries filling in the details.

If you’re looking for a mystery that is hard to put down, then you must read The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian.