Bonfire by Krysten Ritter, published by Hutchinson on 9th November 2017
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.
I was hugely intrigued to read 'Bonfire' after I found it was penned by Krysten Ritter, star of Jessica Jones and Breaking Bad. This is her debut novel, a psychological thriller that sounded pretty dark and twisty. Exactly what I was in the mood for.
The story follows Abby Williams, an environmental lawyer, originally from the small town of Barrens Indiana. Abby has returned home for the first time in ten years to investigate Optimal Plastics, a company that has set about transforming her home town but whose presence Abby has her suspicions about. Abby's investigation leads her to suspect a possible connection with local girl Kaycee, who supposedly ran away and was never seen again. She was both Abby's friend, as well as her tormentor but Abby has never been able to put her disappearance behind her. She's about to open up some old wounds that might have been better left alone.
I liked the character of Abby but there were times when I wished that she had been able to stand up for herself a bit more. She has made a success of her career and moved on to better things but she still seemed to let people walk all over her at times. I also would have liked to know more about her family history and childhood. Both were touched upon but I think if there had been more details provided, it would have given a better insight into her character.
I loved the claustrophobic and oppressive atmosphere of the small town setting, where everyone knows everything about each other and where peoples' reputations follow them - past mistakes are never forgotten and secrets can't be buried forever.
I thought that the ending was slightly rushed and the big expose could have been more dramatic, although it did take an interesting turn in the last few chapters. I enjoyed all the twists and turns, as it made me suspicious of everyone and I constantly felt like I wasn't sure who could be trusted and who was waiting to stick the knife into Abby's back. All in all, a brilliant debut from Ritter and one that I would definitely recommend if you are keen on psychological thrillers.