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House on Fire Bets On...

House on Fire

March 2019

HOUSE ON FIRE by Bonnie Kistler is a well-paced and emotionally charged domestic thriller. As the book opens, Leigh Huyett and her husband, Pete Conley, have taken a short vacation to celebrate their anniversary; it is a second marriage for both. She has a daughter, Chrissy, who is in middle school and twin older sons in college. He has a son, Kip, who is a senior in high school newly accepted to Duke University, and a young daughter. On the way home from a party, Kip is arrested for drunk driving. The truck he was driving crashed into a tree. And oh, this is his second offense; he already has lost his license to a DUI and should not be driving. Chrissy was with him in the car. Twelve hours later, she is dead and he is charged with manslaughter. What happened that night --- and after --- will keep you turning the pages.

Bonnie is an attorney who is no longer practicing; she was in corporate law, but here takes on the domestic story with laser precision. Her character Leigh is also an attorney, though her specialty is divorce law. Leigh knows the failure rates of second marriages, and this haunts her as she tries to balance what’s happened to her daughter with what’s happening to her marriage. There are big moments layered in with other, touching ones. One underlying current is that Kip was 17 the night of the accident and thus a minor. What time did it actually happen? If after midnight, he was 18 and an adult. Little nuggets like that will keep you thinking as you turn the pages.

Suddenly, Pete and Leigh are at odds with each other, as they each become protective of their children, whose narratives conflict. This blended family quickly slips onto the rocks and is headed towards the water. Readers will see the story in 360 view, and I daresay they will be pulling for the happy ending.

Comparisons to Celeste Ng and Jodi Picoult are not hype. Bonnie has great storytelling chops and is not afraid to take the reader on a journey with her, scattering clues and constantly bringing us along on detours.

I am looking forward to seeing what Bonnie writes next! Book groups, this is a thriller with lots to talk about.

House on Fire
by Bonnie Kistler

  • Publication Date: December 3, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501198696
  • ISBN-13: 9781501198694