cover image Bonfire


Krysten Ritter, read by Karissa Vacker. Random House Audio, 9 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-1-5247-7896-5

Actress Ritter’s first novel is a smartly crafted thriller in which dedicated environmental lawyer Abby Williams travels from Chicago to her hometown of Barrens, Ind., as part of a team investigating the environmental harm of Optimal Plastics, the town’s main employer. Abby is searching for evidence of Optimal’s unhealthy practices and answers to questions from her past, primarily what happened to her best frenemy from high school, Kaycee Mitchell, who went missing just after graduation a decade ago. Reader Vacker’s rendition of a strong-willed but otherwise-fragile young woman trying to do her job while struggling with memories from a painful past is convincing. Just as impressive is her handling of other characters past and present, including snarky mean girls from Abby’s high school days, the sullen present-day townsfolk, and her once cold and impersonal father now in the throes of Alzheimer disease. Vacker is especially effective in the novel’s most dramatic and suspenseful chapter, when Abby faces what seems like certain death at the hands of a killer. The result is a stirring audiobook. [em]A Crown Archetype hardcover. (Nov.) [/em]