Title: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
Genre: Currently #448 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers & Suspense, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Crown Publisher
Publication Date: To be released November 7, 2017
Source: Crown Publishing and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Bonfire – stock cover
Once again, I requested and was granted a book without knowing that the author, Krysten Ritter, had already made quite a name for herself, this time as an actress and producer. Of her screen credits, the one with which I was familiar was Breaking Bad, although I didn’t connect her name with the part.
Ritter’s debut novel has protagonist Abby Williams returning back home to small town Indiana after an absence of ten years. She’s a single, upscale successful environmental attorney out of Chicago with a decent paycheck and nice apartment. Abby is returning to investigate Optimal Plastics and their possible involvement in transient sicknesses and other health concerns connected with the major corporation, Optimal Plastics, which has been the source of economic livelihood for the little community.
Barrens, however, has not been the source of happy memories for Abby and returning home begins to lay open old scars from childhood stemming from her then best friend Kaycee Mitchell. By high school, Kaycee gathers a strong, supportive clique, which does not include Abby. Kaycee actually swings the other way and often delivers cruel, bully level physical and mental taunts.
The legal team that includes Joe, a close office friend and colleague, is ensconced in a farmer’s large barn and initiates investigation as Abby begins to devolve back to younger, impotent Abby. She must return to her childhood home and visit her father, which she is dreading, and in the meantime begins bumping into former classmates for whom she holds conflicting memories. But the abrupt disappearance of Kaycee has brought back painful memories and confronting those demands her further attention, diverting complete concentration from the Optimal investigation. Further, she’s discovered that a former flame is now in management at the plastics corporation and that one of Kaycee’s clique is a vice principal at her old high school.
She discovers a disturbing secret that, being an independent lone wolf, she had missed called “The Game.” Thankfully, The Game was one she was never a part of, but most had knowledge and was not interested in sharing information.
As strong a character as her lawyer profile was presumed to be, I was disappointed in that she seems to revert to a stuttering, incompetent female. Rather than exerting confident pressure to learn the truth, she seems to recoil instead while she wrestles with all the painful questions never answered of her teenage years.
Dialogue actually flows rather evenly, although Abby could be a pain, over obsessing. Characters were fleshed out well enough not to like many of them, particularly Annie, the snot. It’s obvious that Abby is still trying to control old sorrows with booze and sex, drinking too much and crawling into another (strange) bed. Conversations seem to whittle down to four letter words. No one here I could really identify with and didn’t have a real connection. My problem is with how far the focus wanders from the original environmental investigation and the damage to the protagonist. Mainly the latter.
Not really a unique plot, no thrilling twists, though definitely a solid effort for a debut novel with a promising author, aside from her acting or producing accomplishments. Would be interested to see if her efforts don’t mature. Recommended for mystery and suspense fans. I received this download from Crown Publishing and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three point five of Five Stars
The Author: Krysten Ritter has been very busy and successful as well, known for her starring roles in the award winning Netflix series, Jessica Jones. She also had a pivotal role on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Besides series and cult favorites, her work includes a number of film credits. Not coincidentally, she is the founder of Silent Machine, a production company which aims to highlight complex female protagonists. Ritter and her dog Mikey split their time between New York and Los Angeles. ©2017 Virginia Williams