I’m going to admit that I had no idea who Krysten Ritter was until I read this book. I was pretty hype for this one, and I’m not ashamed to say it was mostly because of the cover (it’s a pretty fire cover, if I say so myself ha). The Thriller/Detective Mystery genre has slowly become one of my favorites, so, needless to say, I was pretty excited to dig into this .
When Abby Williams, now a hot-shot lawyer, goes back to her hometown to work on a case involving a major company scandal involving the towns biggest company, Oculus, pertaining to the public drinking water, she soon finds herself diving head first into a pool with no water, opening a can of worms she never wanted to remember. Discovering an old friend may be in danger, Abby realizes she may have bit off more than she can chew and realizes there may be a bigger problem than just the high lead count in the water.
*may contain slight spoilers, but nothing major*
Boy, oh, boy do I have a lot of issues with this book.
While I will give Ritter a slight break since this is her first dabble in writing a novel, let alone a mystery/thriller (as Gillian Flynn’s first work was not the best in my opinion), I still have a lot of issues with this one.
The first one I have to point out is the stigmas that Ritter surrounds with what a “small town” is. Coming from a town with a population of about 10,000 myself, I found that her descriptions and stereotypes that go along with some of the characteristics were a little blasé (for example, having only 2 stop lights). While I can attest to some of them being true, I just felt very underwhelmed with the way she was describing some of the situations and people. On the flip side, a lot of her descriptions were pretty accurate, but overall could have used more sensitivity and work.
A compliment I do have towards this book is that it was very easy to read. When I read this book, I didn’t feel bogged down with information – it was very smooth reading in terms of she knows that the audience knows what a barn looks like, so Ritter doesn’t go into a page and half of description of one, which is nice and used well.
My main issue with this book, and probably the most important one to a mystery, is the actual mystery! I don’t know who the hell actually blurbed this as “dark [and] disturbing” and a “stone-cold stunner”. When I read a mystery, especially one of a crime that has been going on for 10+ years, such as this one, I want to actually believe they could have pulled it off. But, with Bonfire, I just do not think that the antagonists could have gotten away with this for nearly twenty years and not been found out. I just don’t think it’s possible. Then this girl who has been away for so long comes along and cracks it, just like that. Like…really? Also, the climax is completely predictable, and the main character, who has been pretty smart up to this point, makes such a stupid mistake in the end that it just made me wish I could hand her a V8 (non-sponsored). If you’re reading this book, you’ll come to a point where you make a pretty major prediction about what’s going to happen next and who the “bad guy(s)” is/are, and I would bet that you’re right.
Overall, the mystery was kind of lame. The entire novel is completely underwhelming. I was never on the edge of my seat, which is how I should expect to feel with a thriller such as this. The only reason I’m going to keep this one around is because the cover is so damn good.
That being said, I think this author does have potential, as (mentioned above), Flynn’s first novel had me feeling much the same way, yet her next two books were knock-outs. I have not given up on Ritter, and I look forward to see what she comes up with next.
Final Rating: 2 out of 5
While I wouldn’t recommend you buy this particular book, I would say that if your library has it and you want something to entertain you slightly, you could probably read this in one or two sittings. Anyway… Would love to hear your thoughts!
Oh, and if you feel compelled to buy it after that, then here ya’ go.