Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

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 Barren’s 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 she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations.  And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret – a ritual called “The Game” – it will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

Morgan’s thoughts:

Despite my initial reactions to this book, I completely enjoyed this read.  At first, I was wrapped up in the fact Ritter’s prose tends to state the obvious.  For instance, after stating the background of the case, Abby muses “For the rest of the team, this is just another case.  For me, it’s a chance to finally take on the demons. To root out the ugly secrets.”  To be honest, the style does not get any less opaque, but the plot was able to completely carry me away.

I think this book is probably most enjoyably consumed in one read, as I did.  It wasn’t what I had intended for that afternoon, but once I was involved in the murky history of this town, I could not pull myself away.  It reads like an extended Law and Order episode or cerebral suspense film; you get even more facts and the chance to delve deeper into just everything that has gone wrong in this town than a 40 minute episode would allow.  Ritter feeds the reader just enough clues to make you feel like you have it almost figured out, if you could just get that last piece of information.  With more time in between chapters, maybe the story begins to unravel, but consumed in one sitting, it’s completely thrilling.

This book is dark.  It tackles abuse – both physical and sexual, medical complications, alcohol dependency, bullying, and more, but never in a way that feels too bogged down.  These are elements that help Abby tell her story; it’s not a PSA, it’s her reality.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful read that will completely take you away for the afternoon, this should be your next book.  Buy it here on Amazon or find it at your local bookstore.

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