Publication Date: 9th November from Randomhouse UK (Hutchison)
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all 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 economic heart, she begins to find strange connections to a decade-old scandal involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.
But as Abby tries desperately to find out what happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret, her search threatens the reputations, and lives, of the community and risks exposing a darkness that may consume her.
I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed this intense and atmospheric tale from Krysten Ritter – whilst it is far from being the first “Girl escapes small town only later having to return and face her demons” tale I have read, it is definitely one of the ones of superior quality and storytelling – Abby as a character immediately engaged me and the well layered, twisted yet authentic plot just sealed the deal.
Big corporation v socially engaged lawyer is another type of story that I love to read – this is also the defining theme within “Bonfire” which the author uses to great effect – mixing up Abby’s past life with her present, making her see things with new eyes and eventually leading us to answers and a rather heart stopping conclusion. I liked that Abby was portrayed as strong, driven, yet haunted by her very realistic demons – there was no sense of safety within the story for her at all, no promises made that she would endure. The supporting cast are cleverly woven in, the socially relevant big corporation cover up is given a new little twist and ultimately this is a tale of redemption and understanding. Sometimes you know, you just can’t go home….
The small town setting is beautifully described, you can smell the “Bonfire” in the air, see the good and the bad and all the area’s in between – I want to describe it in some ways as “mean girls on acid” but that doesn’t really say what I mean, Krysten Ritter building her relationships between the people you meet in an intelligent and thought provoking way. The mystery elements are clever, you’ll love/hate/love Kaycee as remembered by Abby and the ups and downs between these two girls is one of the strengths here.
Very good indeed. Yes. I’m aware of course that the author is a well known and much admired actress – I have not watched any of her screen moments but I’m fairly sure that if she is as good an actress as she is writer I’d better go track them down. I might even do that right now.
Recommended. A brilliant read.