In this debut novel from actress Krysten Ritter, Chicago environmental lawyer Abby Williams is brought back to her home town of Barrens, a rural community in southern Indiana, to investigate complaints of water pollution. Residents have been getting sick for years, which may be due to the practices of a plastics/polymer company called Optimal, who could be dumping their waste into the reservoir.
Abby and her team are having trouble getting anyone to talk since Optimal pretty much owns Barrens, having built the new community center and employing a large quantity of the residents. Even though she has tried to forget her past, Abby is brought back to her high school years when she runs into some of her classmates, including the best friend of Casey Mitchell. Casey and Abby used to be close until high school when Casey and a group of three other girls became popular and bullied Abby.
Back then, Casey would get sick with unexplained fainting and vomiting, but it turned out the whole thing was a hoax. Casey admitted to faking it for attention, and then split shortly after graduation. No one has heard from her since. Abby’s assignment becomes derailed when she makes it her mission to find Casey. Perhaps she wasn’t really faking it after all. And is Optimal paying people to keep quiet?
For a debut novel by an actress, I was pretty impressed with Bonfire. Multiple plot strings keep readers hooked and make for a fast and entertaining read.