ABOUT THE BOOK:
Two sisters travel the same streets, though their lives couldn't be more different. Then, one of them goes missing.
In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don't speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.
Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit--and her sister--before it's too late.
Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters' childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Long Bright River by Liz Moore is a 2020 Riverhead publication.
Mesmerizing, chilling, and heartbreaking!
Sisters, Mickey, and Kacey, though close as children, grew apart as teens and now their lives could not be any more different. Mickey is a police officer and single- parent, while Kacey, is a drug addict and a sex-worker in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Although they never speak, Mickey keeps tabs on Kacey, making sure she's still okay, despite the circumstances. But then Kacey disappears. Mickey uses her position as a police officer to try and find her, fearing the worse.
It is not just the drugs or the risky lifestyle that has Mickey in a near panicked desperation to find Kacey. Someone is killing women in Kensington- and Kacey could be an unknown victim.
Mickey’s private investigation leads her in directions she never imagined. Her memories of her teenage years haunt her, as the truth becomes harder and harder to discern, with everything going on seemingly tangled up with her own family or her complicated relationships in the past.
As the days pass, Mickey’s fear and despair drive her emotions, destabilizing her decisions. But as the past collides with the present, startling revelations uncover the ugly, but fragile and tender bonds of Mickey's relationship with Kacey and her family.
Will Mickey find her sister alive or has her addiction- or a murderer- stolen her away forever?
This is a compelling crime drama that examines the far-reaching toll of addiction, while at the same time profiling one of the most notorious drug addled neighborhoods in the United States.
Families are torn apart, communities decline, along with the economy, and even the most disciplined are no match for the lure of opioids. Many passages in this book feel so real, and even personal. It is sad and horrifying, making the urge to look away far too tempting.
I have heard people speak of the troubled Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. In fact, it was the true crime case of the "Kensington Strangler", that drew my attention to this neighborhood at one point.
But I still felt compelled to do a little more research and what I saw and read was shocking, terrifying and so sad.
This background brings the challenges Mickey faces, not only as a police officer, but as a mother and a sister, into sharp focus. Her confidence is rattled, understandably, as this case is very personal, often robbing her of her objectivity.
I cannot say I always understood Mickey, or found her character to be one I could easily relate to, but I sympathized with her fear and confusion, facing the possibility that she and her son could be in danger, and that her sister might be dead.
The story is tense, gritty, and very gripping with several stunning twists along the way, but at the end of the day, despite the odds, a glimmer of hope appears, leaving the reader with more of an inspirational vibe, helping to offset the overall austerity of the book.
I found this novel to be quite effective and well executed. It is dark and melancholy, but is also incredibly realistic, giving readers a stark and undaunted view of life in Kensington, and an up- close examination of addiction on its litter strewn streets. The book is timely, also touching on gaping social and class divisions amid the drug crisis.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent crime story and family drama! It was quite suspenseful and engrossing, as well as a real eye-opener. It stuck with me long after I turned the final p
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Liz Moore is the author of four novels: The Words of Every Song, Heft, The Unseen World, and Long Bright River. A winner of the 2014 Rome Prize in Literature, she lives in Philadelphia and teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Temple University.
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