The Lioness (2022)


The lioness has roared.

A luxurious African safari turns deadly for a Hollywood star and her entourage in this riveting historical thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant.

Chris’s historical thriller set in Hollywood and the Serengeti in 1964 was an instant New York Times Bestseller in May — and is now a Washington Post and Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2022!

Already in development for a TV series from eOne and Marsh Entertainment.

One of the Washington Post’s 50 Notable Novels of 2022

A Publishers Weekly Best Book

A Library Journal Best Book

A New York Times Bestseller.

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller.

A USA Today Bestseller.

A Los Angeles Times Bestseller.

A Boston Globe Bestseller.

An Indiebound Bestseller.

One of the Los Angeles Times Ten Most Anticipated Books for May 2022

A BookBub Best Mystery of Spring 2022

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.


“If you’re getting on a long flight and have no idea what book to bring, Bohjalian’s novels are always a safe bet. If you’re going on a safari, you may want to approach his latest with caution: It’s the story of a lavish expedition in Tanzania in 1964 gone very wrong. The travelers are Hollywood A-listers; wildebeest and zebras abound; and Bohjalian steers this runaway Land Rover of a story into some wildly entertaining territory.”

The New York Times

“Throughout his bloody, often shocking jumble of twists and turns, [Bohjalian] weaves life stories with such deftness, it’s impossible not to care how they end…There I was, breathlessly following these people like the hyenas who stalked — . No, no. Let’s not spoil that one for you. . .We are also likely to see at least parts of ourselves. This is the other danger lurking in the pages, and from this we cannot look away. The questions are as haunting as they are inevitable: What might I do in these circumstances? How far would I be willing to go? In our answers, we are bound to feel unease. If we’re honest with ourselves, that is..”

Connie Schultz
The New York Times Sunday Book Review

"Chris Bohjalian is a terrific writer. I loved this book. I love all his books.”

Harlan Coben
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author, speaking on The Today Show

"Bohjalian is at heart a thriller writer, eager to upend charming scenes of wildlife-spotting with a deadly twist...Where Bohjalian one-ups Christie (with apologies to the grande dame) is in his character development...Bohjalian tracks his players as keenly as a leopard does its prey, matching psychology to fate with an almost pathological precision...'The Lioness' provides a meaty look at what makes us animals in what we call civilization — and what makes us human when we’re out in the wild.”

Bethanne Patrick
The Los Angeles Times

“Bohjalian, one of our finest storytellers, weaves his spellbinding magic...Extraordinarily engaging...Ultimately, the deadly-serious real-world tale that Bohjalian taps into — the horrifying outcomes of corruption-inducing power — is a not-so-gentle reminder that while you can’t always stop the story, sometimes you can change it.”

Daneet Steffens
The Boston Globe

“Revelatory [and] expertly woven. . . A bloody sprint of a read. . . Lesser writers could not tackle 10 narrators, the complexities of racism in America, African politics, violence both foreign and domestic (as in inside a New York apartment) and make the pieces fit seamlessly together. But [Bohjalian] has shown time and again that with him, you don’t know what you’re going to get, but you know that the getting is good. With The Lioness, the getting is violently good. Pulled in by the promise of thrills or the guarantee of glamour, readers will stay for the game of survivor(s), and finish the book as satisfied as a fat cat in the Serengeti.”

Karin Tanabe
The Washington Post

“A nail-biting 200-plus pages of worrying about who might live, who might die and why the group was targeted in the first place. . .Bohjalian takes us deep into Africa with detailed depictions of giraffes and gazelles, hyenas and horror — and brings us back home satisfied with the roaring good story.”

Amanda St. Amand
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Once all the puzzle pieces. . .are in place, the result is an adventure story of satisfying unity, with enough surprises to still qualify as a mystery. Recurring allusions to Hemingway. . .add additional literary flair.”

Tom Nolan
The Wall Street Journal

“Fans of Bohjalian's many novels know how expertly he weaves his stories. Here he goes back and forth for each of the major players, revealing how past deeds impact the present. He does so slowly, leaving tantalizing clues along the way. We come to care about the captives: cheer their bravery, disapprove of their cowardice but in both cases remain compelled to turn the page.”

Curt Schleier
Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Lion attacks. Millions of stinging ants. Kidnappers with elephant guns. The wide-open spaces of the Serengeti are fraught with peril and beauty in this bloody tale of a 1960s Tanzanian safari gone wildly wrong. Centered around an Elizabeth Taylor-like starlet and her entourage, the travelogue starts out with glamour (there’s a generator-powered ice maker and many chic outfits) and quickly slips into a man-versus-beast horror story.”

Jennifer Barger
National Geographic

“Chris Bohjalian can write just about anything. There are relatively few writers in the realm of popular fiction who possess the range that Bohjalian has brought to his oeuvre over the past few decades. His depth of research results in books that, no matter their subject, make for compelling and propulsive reads. . . The Lioness offers typically great storytelling from Bohjalian, a rich and intertwined narrative that advances with twisting inevitability even as the wide cast of characters is rendered with a fullness of dimension that would be difficult even with a much smaller list of dramatis personae. . . There’s an immersiveness to Bohjalian’s work that is only possible because of the incredible work that has gone into ensuring the verisimilitude of both setting and social dynamics. . . And of course, it is an adventure story, one whose influences – Hemingway, Christie – are apparent, even as the tale manages to avoid any whiff of the derivative. It is action-packed while also being very human, a juggling act that only a gifted writer can effectively navigate. Good thing Bohjalian’s pretty damned gifted. . . The Lioness is another exciting work from the pen of an exceptional writer. It is a transportive book, one that puts us in the heads of a group of flawed individuals even as it lays out the lush and deadly beauty of the African savannah. Meticulously researched and constructed, it is a first-rate novel from one of the best writers of popular fiction currently writing. In short, The Lioness roars.”

Allen Adams
The Maine Edge

“The Lioness…may be [Bohjalian’s] best yet….The early 1960s are captured in technicolor, and Bohjalian effortlessly merges character development with wider historical concerns.”

Molly Odinz
The Maine Edge

“The Lioness…may be [Bohjalian’s] best yet….The early 1960s are captured in technicolor, and Bohjalian effortlessly merges character development with wider historical concerns.”

Molly Odinz
The Maine Edge

“Chris Bohjalian’s best book yet and that is saying a lot. Of course it’s a page-turner, with the usual Bohjalian qualities of fine writing, deep characters and insight, but this time in Africa. On Safari, with Hollywood types. I was in heaven.”

Anne Lamott
New York Times Bestselling author

A "devastatingly cunning suspense novel...Bohjalian does a superb job of judiciously rolling out information of how past transgressions may have led to the heart-stopping episodes of chaos and carnage as the shocking, twist-filled plot builds up to the revelation of 'the real reasons for the safari nightmare.' This brilliant whydunit is not to be missed.”

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review

“The novel’s opening action may burst forth with a deadly ambush but Bohjalian doesn’t blindside loyal readers who have come to expect his signature combination of exotic locations, titillating characters, and energetic pacing. Stark and dark, violent and vivid, this may be versatile Bohjalian’s most harrowing work since Skeletons of the Feast. Intimately researched, the Serengeti’s beauty and brutality are vibrantly infused in every scene, a grounding counterpoint to the competing dynamics of human cruelty and compassion.”

Carol Haggas
Booklist, Starred Review

“Another tour de force from Bohjalian...Hollywood elite become the hunted as their instinctual fight for survival takes priority over all else. Fans of character-driven narratives will relish traipsing through both the [Serengeti] and the souls and psyches of Bohjalian's characters.”

K.L. Romo
Library Journal, Starred Review

"From its first dazzling pages, Chris Bohjalian’s THE LIONESS enraptured me. You’ll want to sink into its velvety glamour at the same time as you’ll be swept up in its sharp-eyed exploration of power and predation.”

Megan Abbott
New York Times Bestselling author of THE TURNOUT

“THE LIONESS is a superb novel, satisfying on every level. Chris Bohjalian has managed a high-wire act: a story that is simultaneously a thrilling page-turner, a thoughtful political history, a gripping safari adventure, and a nuanced character portrait. Jumping back and forth between the gimlet glitter of Hollywood and the violent upheavals of midcentury Africa, THE LIONESS is a whirlwind of a journey. I devoured it.”

Janelle Brown
New York Times Bestselling Author of PRETTY THINGS and I'LL BE YOU

“I loved this novel so much that I blew off all my responsibilities, turned off my phone, and got lost in this mesmerizing world created by Chris Bohjalian. A masterful tapestry of heart-pounding suspense and deeply moving drama, THE LIONESS explores what it takes to survive the siren songs of old Hollywood glitter and the Serengeti’s majestic expanse. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”

Angie Kim
Edgar Award Winning Author of MIRACLE CREEK

“Skillfully and creatively organized. . . The character development is excellent, and the plot gripping. Bohjalian’s descriptions of the Serengeti’s animals and dangers are captivating. The glimpses of 1960s La-la land are a remarkable contrast to the 1960s East African political upheavals. Highly recommended.”

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt
Historical Novel Review

“Bohjalian creates ample suspense by keeping answers tantalizingly out of reach until the last pages. . . Bohjalian excels at putting his story in period context [and] leaves social, political and cultural Easter eggs on practically every page. . . The Lioness is a fast-paced page-turner with likable characters and a richly crafted world. Happy hunting.”

Jordan Adams
Seven Days

“[The Lioness] is Bohjalian 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.”

Barbara Hoffert
Library Journal

“Bohjalian takes what could be elements of a potboiler and skillfully works them into a smart and stirring look at a continent on the cusp of change.”

Virtuoso Life Magazine

"[Bohjalian’s] fast-paced tale allows little time for contemplating sunsets through the branches of baobab trees. Instead, The Lioness succeeds in showing how otherwise pampered folks react when faced with the unthinkable.”

Arlene McKanic

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

Zibby Owens
Katie Couric Media

"The marriage of 1960s Hollywood and wild Africa generates a fascinating historical thriller.”

Michael Sears
New York Journal of Books

"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.”

Oh, No, They Didn't

"A satisfying read….You really feel as if you could be there in the Serengeti with Katie and her group of grossly unprepared movie people.”

Robert McCool
Bluffton Icon


Garrett Billings
She Reads

"[A] thrilling story that you won’t want to put down…A great novel to kickstart your. . .reading season."

Red Carpet Crash