Ritter's Bonfire

Bruce Von Stiers

I think I became aware of Krysten Ritter even before her pivotal role on Breaking Bad. Since then Krysten has added even more impressive acting, screenwriting and producing cred. She even has a production company focusing on female protagonists. Now Krysten can add mystery / suspense author to her list of accomplishments.

Krysten has written a book titled Bonfire. It is a suspense novel with a lot of today's social and ecological issues blended within its pages. The book was published by Crown Archetype and has 277 pages.

The main character in Bonfire is Abby Williams. She is an environmental lawyer. The group she works for pursues legal remedies for environmental abuses by companies. Abby comes back to her hometown of Barrens, Indiana to work on a case. This is the first time that Abby has come back in the ten years since she left Barrens.

But Abby is not coming back as a favorite daughter. Optimal, the company that she is investigating, is the main employer in Barrens and the highest financial supporter of the town. Some see Abby and her co-workers as interlopers coming to destroy the best thing that ever happened to their town.

And Abby has a lot of emotional baggage from growing up in Barrens. She was an outsider, often bullied. She was bullied the most by a group of girls headed up by her once best friend, Kaycee Mitchell. But it seems that Kaycee and her friends got sick during senior year, supposedly from something that Optimal was responsible for. But that proved out false and Kaycee supposedly left town shortly after.

As Abby gets more and more into her investigation, the more memories flood back to her. There was an incident that she keeps remembering. Was it real or imagined? And some of the key players from her tormented student days seem to now be upstanding citizens. And others, not so much.

There are several plot elements that, as they say, could have been ripped from the headlines. There is possible environmental damage from an industrial company. There are rumored cover-ups and whispers of corruption. There are compromising photos and apparent suicides. There are possible events of collusion, blackmail and extortion. And a possible hint at murder.

Krysten paints a very interesting lead character. Abby is promiscuous, having a string of one night stands. She also drinks way too much. And her memories of that last year of high school may not be as true as Abby thinks they are.

As I usually do, I tried to second guess the outcome of the novel. But Krysten kept switching things up in the storyline, so when I thought things were going one way, they went another. At one point I thought that Abby was going to be revealed as a murderer and then as an unintended victim. I ended up guessing part of the outcome but not all of it. Which is what I really like about really good mysteries and suspense novels. And I consider Bonfire to be a first rate mystery / suspense novel.

If Bonfire is a true indication of Krysten Ritter's talent as a writer, we should be expecting great things from her. At least I think so.

Bonfire is available at most book retailers.



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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers