From Goodreads: 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.
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?
My first thoughts
I’ve been itching to get a hold of a copy for months. I somehow knew it was going to be something I’d love, and I wasn’t wrong. I’d already pre-ordered a signed copy, but Net Galley UK approved my request and sent me a Kindle copy at the beginning of the week. Full of cold, I set myself on the sofa with a cuppa and a blanket, and past a whole autumnal day within Ritter’s world.
Abby is so relatable, its rather scary. She’s a little bit of a loner, fuck up and passionate about her job. However, that’s not where the comparisons end for me. It’s Abby’s relationship with father that will haunt and sooth me for many days; the difficulty, the pain and guilt are all things I understand and help me to be drawn into the plot. It wouldn’t matter what the plot was; I’d have followed her into the depths of hell because I had her back, and many other readers will feel the same.
The supporting characters are all explored through Abby’s thoughts and memories and, as a result, you trust them as much as she does. Condor is one of my favourite characters, and I wish we’d been given more time with him. However, as Abby goes, so goes my nation.
There’s enough mystery behind a lot of the characters and it’s organic; allowing you to suspect and dismiss as the novel progresses.
It’s a perfect slow burn plot that is set in motion way before the book begins. Being a book within the crime thriller genre, it would be easy to fall into the stereotypical pit falls or become so convoluted that it loses its readers. Bonfire escapes both of these, by giving a clever plot that will keep you guessing right up until the final reveal.
Underlying the law suit that the environmental lawyers are trying to uncover, Abby is returning home and opening up old wounds she never expected to face. It brings about a heart to the book that some crime novels of this ilk often lack.
There’s a wonderful voice presented in this first-person narrative, one that I trust; Abby fast becomes a person I would love to get to know. The development of the plot and the sleep deprivation is well presented in the narration; without losing clarity of written structure.
This is a solid debut novel by Ritter, and I for one will be looking forward to any and all future offerings.