Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The Lioness

The Lioness
  The Lioness
Author:  Chris Bohjalian
Publication Information:  Doubleday. 2022. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0385544820 / 978-0385544825

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Oh, I can't speak for the dead."

Favorite Quote:  "We all look forward - at least, I suppose, until you get to be my age - but how we see tomorrow is grounded so deeply in what lived through just yesterday."

The best thing about a Chris Bohjalian's book is that you never quite know what you will get. Each one is unique - setting, characters, era, plot. Each one is unpredictable. Hour of the Witch is the accusation of witchcraft in Puritan Boston. The Red Lotus takes us to a mystery in Vietnam. The Flight Attendant is about waking up in a hotel next to a dead body and having no idea how you got there. The Sleepwalker enters the world of parasomnia. The Guest Room takes on the issue of sex trafficking. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is a terrifying look at a school shooting. These are just some of the ones I have read. Some I have enjoyed more than others, but I look forward to each and every one. 

The Lioness takes us to Tanzania and an African safari. Unfortunately, the safari goes very wrong with a kidnapping and carnage on the savannah. The question is, in this group of the rich and famous, who is the target and why. The book begins somewhat at the end. Some survive. Who? That is unclear. The setting of the book in the 1960s brings in elements of the politics of the area at the time and the era of the Cold War.

The story then winds back and forth - to the end, to the safari and kidnapping, and back into individual lives to see what leads each person to be on that safari at that time. Relationships are revealed, and new ones are formed. At the heart of the story is star actress Katie Barslow. She is newly married to David Hill. This trip is actually their honeymoon. Interestingly, they have decided to share their honeymoon with a group of their Hollywood friends (entourage?).

The main cast of characters numbers 13 - nine safari guests and four team leaders. However, even as the story focuses on the events on safari, it reaches back into their individual lives and sees in the future to the survivors. Even as the safari and its events are only a few days, this reach covers so much more. 

With the back stories, the characters themselves come to life. Much of the book I spend wondering who the survivor who begins the book is and why. Why this safari? Why this group? Why the kidnapping? Who survives? How? Is there one within this group who betrays the others? More importantly, for a fictional group, I care about the answers and keep reading until the very end for to know. From African politics and history to Hollywood drama, from relationships to breakups to betrayals, this book weaves together a story in a way I have come to expect from Chris Bohjalian. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.


  1. I've known this name for a long time, but never read anything of his. You've sold me and I'll be checking him out. I'm particularly attracted now to his books for seeming to be standalones.
    I've got myself into two series authors, both prolific, and am concerned they might not end their run before I end my own run. That's become one of my personal reading criteria "don't start any more series books!"

    1. Some I have liked better than others, but all have left me with a lot to think about. I hear you about series. Series are a major commitment.

    2. I'll take the ones you've mentioned as recommendations.
      I've been on a run now of four from one of my serial authors, and only halfway through the (to-date) collection. My other is Michael Connelly. When I caught on to him, I spent a year reading everything he published. ::rolling eyes emoji:: I'll still be reading every new one he puts out.

    3. I have not read Michael Connelly. Another author to add to my ever growing to read list. The "reading every new one he puts out" is how I feel about Chris Bohjalian's books.