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Long Bright River

Review

Long Bright River

Michaela (Mickey) has never not been worried about her younger sister, Kacey. From the time the girls were children, left to be brought up by their grandmother after the drug-related deaths of both their parents, Mickey has tried her best to care for Kacey and keep her safe from the addiction that plagued their parents and many other members of their family. But by the time they were teenagers, Kacey was already in the grip of her own addictions, and now that both women are in their early 30s, Mickey --- currently a police officer --- patrols the streets where her sister engages in drug dealing and sex work.

Every day Mickey fears she’ll discover her sister beaten, passed out --- or worse. And when, after Kacey’s friends confirm she hasn’t been seen in the neighborhood for a few weeks, Mickey starts to fear the worst. Meanwhile, a serial predator appears to be strangling women who engage in sex work, and every time Mickey answers a dispatch call, she’s convinced the next body she finds will be Kacey’s. Even worse? Word on the street is that the perpetrator of this series of murders is a fellow cop.

"Moore delivers plenty of twists and turns in what proves to be a truly suspenseful mystery plot, but ultimately it’s the relationship between the sisters... that will keep readers on the edge of their seat."

Fear for her sister, combined with the stress of losing her longtime police partner to an injury and the pressure of finding consistent, safe childcare for her young son, Thomas, has Mickey on the edge. And soon she’s making seemingly rash decisions that might endanger not only her career, but also her family.

In Liz Moore’s latest suspense novel, the increasingly dire situations in which Mickey finds herself alternate with scenes from Mickey and Kacey’s childhood and young adulthood, in which readers come to discover and appreciate the origins of the sisters’ complicated relationships with one another as well as with their absent parents, their prickly grandmother, and Thomas’ father. As Mickey struggles to make the right choices for her son, she has to figure out who she can trust --- reluctantly accepting the unexpectedly generous spirit of her landlady while simultaneously calling into question the professional colleagues with whom she’s worked for years.

Moore delivers plenty of twists and turns in what proves to be a truly suspenseful mystery plot, but ultimately it’s the relationship between the sisters --- not to mention Mickey’s evolving self-awareness about what she wants for herself and her young son --- that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. More than anything, though, LONG BRIGHT RIVER is a portrait of a community in crisis, as Moore introduces readers to Kensington, a Philadelphia neighborhood mired in the opioid crisis while also contending with creeping gentrification, in the form of overpriced but aesthetically pleasing coffee shops and flophouses destined to become luxury condos.

Moore’s novel will prompt readers to wonder what will happen to Kacey’s vulnerable friends in the next evolution of Kensington. Unlike the mystery plot, there is no clear resolution to this real-life predicament that will be familiar to residents of many American cities.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 10, 2020

Long Bright River
by Liz Moore

  • Publication Date: January 7, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • ISBN-10: 0525540679
  • ISBN-13: 9780525540670