The Lioness

A Novel

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Pub Date 10 May 2022 | Archive Date 10 Jun 2022

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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A luxurious African safari turns deadly for a Hollywood starlet and her entourage in this riveting historical thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant.
"The best possible combination of Hemingway and Agatha Christie — a gorgeously written story about the landscape and risks of Africa, whose edge-of-your-seat plot makes it impossible to put down.”
—Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here

Tanzania, 1964. When Katie Barstow, A-list actress, and her new husband, David Hill, decide to bring their Hollywood friends to the Serengeti for their honeymoon, they envision giraffes gently eating leaves from the tall acacia trees, great swarms of wildebeests crossing the Mara River, and herds of zebras storming the sandy plains. Their glamorous guests—including Katie’s best friend, Carmen Tedesco, and Terrance Dutton, the celebrated Black actor who stars alongside Katie in the highly controversial film Tender Madness—will spend their days taking photos, and their evenings drinking chilled gin and tonics back at camp, as the local Tanzanian guides warm water for their baths. The wealthy Americans expect civilized adventure: fresh ice from the kerosene-powered ice maker, dinners of cooked gazelle meat, and plenty of stories to tell over lunch back on Rodeo Drive.
What Katie and her glittering entourage do not expect is this: a kidnapping gone wrong, their guides bleeding out in the dirt, and a team of Russian mercenaries herding their hostages into Land Rovers, guns to their heads. As the powerful sun gives way to night, the gunmen shove them into abandoned huts and Katie Barstow, Hollywood royalty, prays for a simple thing: to see the sun rise one more time. A blistering story of fame, race, love, and death set in a world on the cusp of great change, The Lioness is a vibrant masterpiece from one of our finest storytellers.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A luxurious African safari turns deadly for a Hollywood starlet and her entourage in this riveting historical thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The...

Advance Praise

“Fame, race, love, and death collide in this thrilling read.”

—Zibby Owens, Katie Couric Media

“Bohjalian [is] doing what he does best: surprising us. For suspense readers as well as those who love historical fiction and women’s stories, plus literary readers with a desire for adventure and great language.”

—Library Journal

“Fame, race, love, and death collide in this thrilling read.”

—Zibby Owens, Katie Couric Media

“Bohjalian [is] doing what he does best: surprising us. For suspense readers as well as those who love...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9780385544825
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THE LIONESS by Chris Bohjalian in exchange for my honest review.***

In 1964 Academy Award winning actress Katie Barstow and her new husband take seven friends and family on their extended honeymoon, a African safari where they will encounter man and beast in epic battles. The mighty will fall. Trust will be tested. Heroes will emerge. Not everyone will survive.

Although I’m not a literary fiction reader, I’ve been a Chris Bohjalian fan since his early work so I was excited to receive an ARC of THE LIONESS. An Audrey Hepburn quote to start this exceptional novel made me smile as I quickly became immersed in the story.

Bohjalian’s meticulous attention to research detail reminds me of another favorite, Jodi Picoult another favorite of mine. Told from the points of view of the safari adventurers and blurbs from Hollywood magazine articles the stories of the travelers’ pasts and presents unfold.

On a personal note, I don’t believe in animals used for human entertainment and I don’t approve of anything they disturbs the natural habitats of animals in the wild. Reading THE LIONESS at times I worried more about the animals than people, not because I didn’t root for the characters, but because they chose their adventure and the animals were just trying to live their lives.

Five huge stars for THE LIONESS, which will keep you thinking well after you’ve finished reading.

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Five stars! I have never read anything by Chris Bohjalian before, but if his other books are even close to this good, he’s got a new reader! This was unputdownable. I was fully immersed within the first couple of pages. I did not want it to end.

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The Lioness: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian is a wonderful historical fiction that has it all: suspense, mystery, history, a unique plot, threads of thriller, and a stunning conclusion.

This book is just beyond anything from my wildest dreams. I definitely went into this thinking it would be one thing, and quickly learned that this was a whole different animal entirely (and in a good way).

The author takes us back in time to 1964 on an African safari in Tanzania that starts out as a vacation and honeymoon trip for Katie Barstow, her husband, family, and friends, and it turns into something out of a movie or horror flick with a kidnapping gone awry.

Through flashbacks, news articles, and alternating points of view between 10 different characters present on the trip, we see this hot mess of a trip and kidnapping unfold. Not for the faint of heart, there is action, risk, death, despair, but yet one cannot help but turn the page to find out more.

My heart raced several times as the plot unfolded…one would think the multiple points of view could be confusing, but the author did a wonderful job weaving all the threads together to give us an obvious image of the events unfolding. His ability to dive into the human consciousness and display our most fundamental fears, flaws, and fight or flight responses from the sympathetic nervous system, was beyond impressive.

The landscapes, the native animals, the human unrest and battles waging in the background were all perfect additions. The parallels drawn between what was witnessed between different species and the human behavior was intricately drawn out. The realization that human behavior, while expected to be superior and moral compared to the animal instincts of the lands, in so many cases ends up being more ruthless, ugly, and in most cases unacceptable. I could go on forever, but let me just say that the concepts presented have several layers of depth that will leave the reader thinking long after the book is finished.

I cannot recommend this gem enough. One of my favorites in a long, long time.

5/5 stars enthusiastically

Thank you NG and Doubleday Books for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 5/10/22.

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I’m a huge fan of Bohjalian’s work. His attention to detail, and the time he devotes to the historical research he puts into each of his novels is amazing. The Lioness is no exception, this is probably one of my favorite reads of his.

It’s 1964, and Katie Barstow, Hollywood’s latest darling, decides to take her new husband, her brother and his wife, and several of her closest friends on what she envisions will be a luxurious safari into the Serengeti, being pampered, taking photos of the wildlife, and sipping their gin and tonics around a roaring campfire at night discussing the day's events, memories to last a lifetime.

What Katie and her glittering entourage do not expect is this: a kidnapping gone wrong, their guides bleeding out in the dirt, and a team of Russian mercenaries herding their hostages into Land Rovers, guns to their heads. Katie Barstow, Hollywood royalty, her husband, and her friends are in for the fight of their lives, and not just from humans. They are in the bush, thousands of miles from any human contact, surrounded by deadly predators, both large and small. No one is coming to help them, and they will need to use all of their wits to try to survive.

This is a fantastic adventure into first Old Hollywood with all the glitz and glamour of the 60’s, and then into the Serengeti. The vivid descriptions of both are amazing and I could not put this one down! 6

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Holy Cow. You know you're going to get a great story from Chris Bohjalian. His ability to keep you on the edge of your seat with the well crafted tension he's known for, to keep you enthralled and totally immersed with his descriptive phrasing and pacing, and to have you caring for his perfectly drawn and developed characters, are all at top form in The Lioness. Bravo!

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When Hollywood starlet, Katie Barstow, gathers her closet friends and family on a post-Honeymoon safari, festivities abruptly turn into a living nightmare, with gore worthy of a Hollywood thriller, as the body count keeps stacking up. What should have been a luxurious, exotic vacation, soon has guests facing their own
survivalist instincts. Kill or be killed? Fight or flight? Will Man or beast be what tears this group apart?

Readers may initially be apprehensive that the large cast of characters and frequent switching of viewpoints will become overwhelming, but Bohjalian excels at character exploration, and gives each character their own unique voice, and intertwines the main plot with vignettes of guests’ lives before the safari, as told through flashbacks, and news articles such as the Hollywood Reporter.

This novel of a safari trip gone horribly wrong is an immersive and thought provoking tale that poses the universal question, “Who are the world’s real animals, man or beast?”, and will certainly be among 2022’s lists of Best Historical Fiction.

Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for providing me the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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When rising star Katie Barstow organizes a honeymoon/safari for her closest friends, she doesn’t realize that it won’t be like a movie set and that the most dangerous animals are not all the four legged kind.

It is 1964. The world is changing. The nascent Civil Rights movement is changing mores in the United States while in Africa, Civil War is changing the continent. Katie and her new husband, childhood friend David Hill, are joined by her brother and his wife, ingenue actress Carmen Tedesco and her husband Felix, actor Terence Dutton and others. East Africa is exotic and beautiful. The wild animals are awe-inspiring. And the danger strikes as kidnappers attack the compound. The safari guests and guides are separated and their lives are reduced to basics: live, die or be eaten.

The Lioness is a superb thriller, ready for the best seller list. Chris Bohjalian has a rare gift. He brings characters, both men and women, alive by letting the reader understand their innermost thoughts. Africa, with its complicated and tragic history, plays an important part in the action. Bohjalian also has encylopedic knowledge of the behavior of the many wild animals of the Serengeti. This is a compelling 5 star read.

Thank you to NetGalley, Doubleday Books and Chris Bohjalian for this ARC.

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Chris Bohjalian is a master! Every book hooks you from start to finish. The Lioness is thrilling, richly detailed, and full of suspense.

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WHAT A RIDE!! From the very first page to the last, The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian keeps you on the edge of your seat. In 1964 a Hollywood starlet takes a group of friends on Safari as part of her extended honeymoon. The tale that follows is a surprise that both the guests and the reader could not have anticipated. Not only is the story well written but the author brings each character to life. The reader gets to know each character intimately. Just like in the real world we find that no one is either all good or all bad. We know people just like the ones in this book. Their strengths, their weaknesses, their fears, and their souls are splayed wide open on the pages. Page after page we ask ourselves what we would do if facing these circumstances. It’s a masterpiece in writing! I will not be at all surprised when studios are clamoring to be the ones to put this on film. What is so compelling is that situations like these happen everyday somewhere on the globe. Scary indeed. Don’t miss out. Due out May 10, 2022. Preorder now. You will not be disappointed! Note: when your book arrives, clear your calendar. You will not be able to put it down.

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Does Chris Bohjalian ever write a book that doesn't capture me immediately and send me on an emotional journey? Nope! The Lioness is, truly, another masterpiece. The majestic Serengeti setting quickly turns into a horrifying nightmare, told through each character's eyes, while flashbacks expertly build layer upon layer of the plot, up to its conclusion. You get the Hollywood glamour, as well as the unrest and violence of the times in this thrilling, dramatic read. It's only January, but I know this will be one of my top reads of 2022!

Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for access to this arc.

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