Bonfire

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called The Game—which will threaten the reputations and lives of the community, and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

Author: Krysten Ritter

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Rating: 4/5

“Memories are like fire, and need only a little oxygen to grow.” 

This was an impressive debut novel for Krysten Ritter! I’m not always a fan of thrillers (they’re such a rollercoaster ride), but this one was fun to read. She gives you just enough information to know that you have all the pieces of the puzzle, if only you could figure out how they fit together. I listened to the audiobook during my Thanksgiving car rides, and I really enjoyed it.

That’s how the main character, Abby, feels too. I liked that. A lot of the time with mystery books written in the first person, you end up with a narrator who has to notice everything (so that you, as the reader, will be exposed to it) but not actually think about anything. Not so here.

So the book, as I mentioned, is about a woman named Abby who comes from a super small town. Her experiences there had been terrible: a mother who passed away from cancer, a father who was emotionally distant and abusive, and a group of teenage classmates who literally terrorized her with their cruel bullying. 

At the end of their senior year of high school, the school Queen Bee (and Abby’s childhood best friend), Kaycee, disappeared. She’d been sick — seizures, vomiting blood, etc. — but after she left, all the other “sick” girls had said they’d been faking for attention, and it all went away. No one heard from Kaycee again.

Now, it looks like Optimal, the plastics manufacturer that literally is the entire town, is poisoning the town’s water supply. Abby is an environmental lawyer, so she and her team return to investigate. But once she’s back, she can’t let go of her nagging suspicions about Kaycee, and an environmental investigation turns into a dangerous and exciting whodunnit.

I was a little disappointed that there were some unresolved questions at the end of this book. I won’t give away spoilers, but basically, there were some theories put forth that were never proven or disproven, and it wasn’t exactly clear how two of the book’s mysteries related to one another.

Still, though, it was an enjoyable story that drew me in and made me want to know how it ended. Impressive first book for Ritter! I hope she writes more.

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