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Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
Thriller

Bonfire

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Krysten Ritter, on your first book!

by Krysten Ritter

Excellent choice

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Quick take

"A well-plotted mystery with a self-reliant yet flawed heroine that delivers an intense, satisfying payoff."

Synopsis

From actress, producer, and writer Krysten Ritter, a gripping, tightly wound suspense novel about a woman forced to confront her past in the wake of small-town corruption.

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’s 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 she tries desperately to find out what really 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—ritual called "The Game"—it will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote rural town of just five claustrophobic square miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of what happens when your past and present collide.

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Bonfire
My last year of high school, when Kaycee Mitchell and her friends got sick, my father had a bunch of theories. "Those girls are bad news," he said. "Nothing but trouble." He took it as a matter of faith that they were being punished. To him, they deserved what they got. Kaycee was the first. This made sense. She was the first to do everything: lose her virginity, try a cigarette, throw a party. Kaycee walked in front of her friends, like an alpha wolf leading the pack. In the cafeteria, she decided where to sit and the others followed; if she ate her lunch, the rest did, too; if she pushed her food around on her tray or just ate a bag of Swedish fish, her friends did the same. Misha was the meanest and the loudest one. But Kaycee was the leader. So when she got sick, we, the senior girls of Barrens High, weren't horrified or disturbed or worried. We were jealous. We all secretly hoped we'd be next.

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Why I love it

Mean girls, long-buried secrets, and unanswered questions are at the center of this fantastic debut thriller from Krysten Ritter. Yes, that Krysten Ritter. The actress/producer—known most recently for her portrayal of Jessica Jones on Netflix—has penned a compelling page-turner that is sure to please fans of Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott.

As a successful environmental lawyer in Chicago, Abby Williams is living the dream, but then a case she is working on requires her to return to the small town she fled ten years earlier in order to investigate the town’s biggest employer. No sooner does Abby get to town does she quickly realize she still has a lot of issues lurking in her past, starting with her former best friend Kaycee, the head of a Heathers-esque clique who made high school hell for her. Kaycee became mysteriously ill at the end of her senior year, and then disappeared around graduation. When Abby delves deeper, she learns the truth about Kaycee is a lot more sinister and the corruption more far-reaching than she ever imagined.

Bonfire is exactly what I want from a thriller: a well-plotted mystery with a self-reliant yet flawed heroine that delivers an intense, satisfying payoff. It’s like Sharp Objects meets The Fever. While deftly unwinding the central mystery, Ritter also portrays the claustrophobia and lack of privacy that comes with growing up in a small town. And she captures the apprehension of returning to a place that made us miserable, yet being drawn to it like a missing puzzle piece we need to find.

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Member ratings (4,900)

  • Caitlin B.

    Modesto, CA

    Major Sharp Objects vibes: troubled woman returns to her hometown to confront her past while battling her own demons and solving a mystery at the same time. Especially for a debut author I’m impressed

  • Ashley W.

    Jacksonville, FL

    As a small town girl, & a huge fan of Kristen Ritter, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this novel! Erin Brockovich, meet Abby Williams! I hope to read more from Ritter because her writing kicks ass!

  • Carley C.

    Hanford, CA

    I love love love Krysten Ritter! When it was announced she wrote a book I couldn’t wait to get it! Page turner! Did remind me of the movie with Julia Roberts so the main character I pictured was her

  • Ronda P.

    Harrison , MI

    I am started to read this book and I love it it is well written book very mysterious book has I continue to read and get lost in the pages. I hope everyone likes the book to. Please tell me what

  • Didi A.

    WHITTIER, CA

    This novel jerked me in so many directions. I couldn't see the ending from miles away. I couldn't put this book down! The plot point of this story made me cringe since it had me believe it can happen.

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