'An outstanding crime novel.' PAULA HAWKINS _____________________________________
KENSINGTON AVE, PHILADELPHIA:
THE FIRST PLACE YOU GO FOR DRUGS OR SEX. THE LAST PLACE YOU WANT TO LOOK FOR YOUR SISTER.
Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey.
When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator - before Kacey becomes the next victim. _____________________________________ 'A remarkable, profoundly moving novel about the ties that bind and the irrevocable wounds of childhood. It’s also a riveting mystery, perfectly paced. I loved every page of it.' DENNIS LEHANE
Liz Moore is the author of the novels THE WORDS OF EVERY SONG (Broadway Books, 2007), HEFT (W.W. Norton, 2012), THE UNSEEN WORLD (W.W. Norton, 2016), and the New York Times-bestselling Long Bright River (Riverhead, 2019). A winner of the Rome Prize in Literature, she lives in Philadelphia with her family, and teaches in the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at Temple University.
Long Bright River is a book that I almost passed on, thinking that I didn't want the responsibility of reviewing it. The author has a fiercely loyal fanbase, and literary fiction is a genre that is risky for me to dabble in at best. After circling the book's Goodreads page for months, the synopsis had a relentless grip on me, and something checked in my spirit telling me I needed to read this book. Perhaps it was the emotional investment in the opioid crisis, due to multiple extended family members struggling with and succumbing to their addiction, or it could have been the promise of procedural suspense in the portrayed investigation, but either way I'm grateful to have listened to that inner voice, and even more grateful to the author for tackling such a weighty subject with tenderness and grace.
"I knew she was dead before I reached her. Her pose was familiar to me, after a childhood spent sleeping next to her in the same bed, but that day there was a different kind of limpness to her body. Her limbs looked too heavy."
Kensington is one of the older neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and it's been hit hard by the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. Efforts towards gentrification are being made, as new businesses are breathing life back into a dying area, but the struggle in pushing back drug related criminal activity is an ongoing battle. As we follow Mickey, a police officer assigned to this particular area, we see things from the viewpoint of a longterm inhabitant who also has an emotional investment in fighting this crisis. Mickey's sister Kacey is in the grip of her addiction, and regularly disappears for weeks on end before turning back up, causing Mickey extreme anxiety and constant concern that her sister will be the next body she discovers. The story unfolds in two ways; we have flashbacks that give insight into the sisters' upbringing (an absent father, a mother who passes away which leaves the young girls to be raised by their grandmother), and the present day investigation into the mysterious string of murders that coincide with Kacey's latest disappearance.
I'll be honest folks-this is an uncomfortable read. Emotions run deep as the author describes a pair of girls who, for their entire lives, have had to claw their way out of the drain before they drown, and there is an oppressive atmosphere from start to finish. At times, I felt like the air was being drawn out of my lungs by a heavy weight resting on my chest, and yet, I couldn't put this book down. These characters are so visceral, and I just wanted to reach inside the pages, hold Mickey, and tell her that she wasn't alone and would be ok. The people we meet during our stay in Kensington are all carrying inner demons that many people can relate to; whether you have been an addict or loved someone who is/was, you'll find a character here who seems familiar.
For a book that is nearly 500 pages long, it's extremely fast paced with a gritty, uneasy narrative. An uncomfortable read, for sure, but an important and timely one. Please add this to your TBR if you enjoy dark, serious novels filled with emotional depth and suspense. I see now why Liz Moore has such a passionate following, and am thrilled to add myself to the club.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
You know there are some books you want to read slowly to absorb each word, each sentence, and visualize everything in your head. You wait a little to sink their meanings while sitting next to a fireplace, sipping your cognac (yes, as usual, my imagination stole the remote control of my brain) and praying that the book never ends. However, this crime thriller's writing was so unique and original that I didn't expect to enjoy it too much.
Think again before taking your first steps into the Kensington neighborhood. You insist that abandoned buildings never scare you, right? What about the sex workers, addicts, and drug dealers? I'm talking about one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Philly, with high crime rates, and of course, the police squad doesn't achieve an impressive job. They're mostly power-thirsty and prejudiced team members who have already gotten their share of corruptness and the rottenness of the twisted justice system.
Our heroine, Mickey Fitzpatrick, is a police officer who always tries to do the right thing. Her sister, Kacey, is a long-time addict, and whenever she finds any other OD victim, she always thinks that this time she will find the corpse of her own sister. They've been estranged throughout the years. We go back and forth between past and present to take a closer look at their dysfunctional family relations and their sisterhood bonding, how they change, how they lose their trust bond, and how they choose different sides of the scales of justice.
Mickey seems like the most honest, vulnerable, tormented but not broken, tough character, fighting too hard to save lives and protect her loved ones from the threat and thrills of a harsh and compelling life. She wants to raise her son by herself and teach him to differentiate right from wrong. She wants to find her sister before she slowly kills herself. And she also wants to help the girls who were brutally killed and left on the streets by a serial killer.
This is a dark, realistic, and irritating story, but thankfully Mickey is a well-rounded, perfectly developed, layered character. As soon as you learn her backstories and her connection to her sister, you start to root for her. Even though this is a really long book as a crime thriller, I didn't get easily bored. I wanted to read more about these interesting characters and the challenges Mickey has to fight against her fellow officers who resist investigating the case of the dying girls. The first book started a little slower, but luckily its story captivates you from the beginning, and you want more for your intellectual intake.
This is one of the remarkable, heart-wrenching, soul-shaking, effective, stunning stories with its impeccable writing and remarkable characters. It reminded me of dark, Nordic crime thriller-styled detective stories, which I'm a truly die-hard fan of. So, I highly recommend this slow-burn, well-written thriller story.
***GOODREADS CHOICE NOMINEE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER, IT'S FANTASTIC***
Changed my mind on this one and moved it into the 5 star category the more that I thought about it as I wrote this review.
This is not a comfortable or easy book to read. It highlights the opiod crisis and addiction of all forms. It talks about babies born to addicts and the withdrawal that they go through. It takes place in a neighborhood in Philadelphia, Kensington, which was once a neighborhood of working class families. As the jobs dried up, people chose or were forced to move and there are many abandoned buildings which become homes for those shooting up heroin or dealing and using other drugs. I will post a link at the end of my review from an article just released today about the rise of methamphetamine.
Back to the story. At the heart of the story there are two sisters, Mickey and Kacey orphaned when they were young, losing their mother to an overdose death. Their father has not been present in their lives. They have been raised by their grandmother, Gee, who barely was able to provide for their needs, shelter and food, while working several jobs. There wasn’t much love or personal attention shown to the girls and therefore they were extremely close while growing up.
Things changed dramatically in high school as Kacey started using drugs. The sisters grew apart, Mickey choosing a career as a policewoman and Kacey working temporary jobs to fund her drug habit. Mickey has tried to keep an eye on her sister as she was usually in the area that she was patrolling in Kensington.
There is a serial killer targeting young women. Mickey becomes desperate to find her sister, fearing that she will be the next target. She has vanished and no one seems to know where she is. She becomes desperate and risks the loss of her job and more as she digs deeper into Kacey’s life in the last few months and trying to find the killer.
Mickey is an extremely interesting and complicated woman. She is raising a young son on her own. She joined the police force because she wanted to help change her neighborhood and make a difference in people’s lives. The department doesn’t always agree with Mickey’s methods and she is not sure who she can trust. She has complicated feelings about her grandmother and extended family.
This is a multi-layered story, extremely well written, fast paced, heartbreaking and yet in the end hopeful. The characters are unique, well described and believable. I felt my heart breaking at times for people who live on the streets, tortured and controlled by their addictions.
I won’t give any more of the plot away but I do recommend looking at this link from The Philadelphia Inquirer just posted online today. The numbers are staggering and will, no doubt, shock many readers as they did me.
I highly recommend this book as it is extremely explanatory and pertinent to our times when the crisis of addiction is all around us. I wouldn’t call this a police procedural because it is much more than that. It is a story about humanity, families, sisters, people and cities in crisis, love, forgiveness and hope.
This book is set to publish in January 2020.
I received an ARC of this novel from publisher through Edelweiss.
Long Bright River is a beautifully written and powerful story about two sisters and the destruction of addiction.
Mickey and Kacey, daughters of addicts, take two very different paths in life. As children, they were inseparable, as adults they are estranged. Mickey becomes a cop, Kacey an addict.
When young female addicts start being murdered, Mickey fears even more for Kacey's life. When Mickey discovers that Kacey is missing, she investigates putting her life, her son, and her job in danger.
Mickey is the narrator. She is the good, reliable sister. At the same time, she is also self-righteous and prideful. Her fear of being hurt has caused her to lead a life of isolation. With every OD she hears of, she fears she will hear her sister’s name called. As her walls come down, her deepest and darkest secrets are revealed. Her strong facade slowly peels away revealing a scared and hurt woman who has not recovered from the traumas of her childhood.
Subtly written about the love between sisters and the destructive nature of addiction, Moore has created characters who are complex, flawed, and broken. She doesn’t impose any judgment but rather captures the realities of addiction.
I loved everything about this book. It is not easy to read and it made me very uncomfortable and emotional at times. The final sentence is disturbing and impactful--it brought tears to my eyes. The characterization is extremely strong--Mickey and Kacey remind me of people I know. Moore brings Kensington, a neighborhood in Philadelphia ravaged by poverty and addiction, to life. She captures both the devastation and glimmers of hope of the people who inhabit Kensington. The strong love for the neighborhood shines through in the characters and highlights the goodness that exists in the darkness.
“People with promise, people dependent and depended upon, people loving and beloved, one after another, in a line, in a river, no fount and no outlet, a long bright river of departed souls.”
I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I read this story twice within a six month span, I'm kind of obsessed with it. This story was so freaking good, and so heavy and so sad. I’m really surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, and I flew through this book in 3 days. I probably would’ve finished it faster if I had more time to read it because this book is really hard to put down once you get invested.
This story follows a cop named Mickey who has a sister who is a drug addict and they are no longer on speaking terms. Their parents were addicts and they were raised by their abusive grandmother. A string of girls go missing and are getting murdered in their small town and Mickey is concerned because Kacey (her sister) is also reportedly missing and she can’t track her down. In this story, we get two timelines: the first is a present day chapter, and then in alternate chapters we get flashbacks of their childhood all from Mickeys POV.
I was surprised by how much I loved this book because: I don’t usually like stories that follow from a law enforcement POV (detectives, cops, etc.) but I found Mickeys POV to be so interesting and I felt so badly for her. I also don’t usually like books that have dialogue without quotation marks. When I realized that was happening in this book I was really frustrated because I usually can’t stand that, but it was actually pretty easy to follow. Instead of quotation marks she uses these dashes before a character speaks, so it was still easy to follow. But I do love reading about sister relationships, especially complicated ones. And their relationship could not be more complicated.
This story really shines a light on addiction and how awful it can be, not only for the addict but for everyone in their lives. It made my heart hurt many times and I can only imagine how hard it is to love someone who is an addict and feeling disappointed time and time again. And also to be an addict and constantly feel like you’re letting everyone in your life down.
I love the mystery of this novel, but I also love the literary fiction feel to it. This book is written so gorgeously and I really felt connected to these characters. The mystery is also really great though, I was constantly surprised by many plot twists and I couldn’t predict where it was going and the mystery of it really kept me turning the pages much later into the night than I originally planned.
This is a great story that I didn’t expect to love the way I did! It’s nearly 500 pages but it’s such a fast read. I’m going to have to check out some of this authors previous work because I really enjoyed this one!
The talented Liz Moore writes a powerful, deeply affecting and harrowing account of the human cost of the out of control opoid crisis, gripping not only the Kensington neighbourhood of Philadelphia, but the country as a whole. It would be a mistake to go into this multilayered novel as a straightforward crime read, it is so much more, the crime aspects hang in the background, but at the forefront is a in depth character driven family drama, the relationship between two sisters, 32 year old single mother and beat PPD police officer, Mickey Fitzgerald, and her younger sibling, Kacey, at the mercy of her drug addiction and a prostitute. In a bleak and melancholic narrative, we learn of the sisters troubled childhood and personal history, losing their mother early, being bought up by their grandmother, Gee, unable to give her attention to the girls.
With only themselves to rely on, the sisters form a strong bond with each other, which comes to be tested in later years, as they forge separate paths from each other, becoming estranged in the process. However, Mickey continues to feel deeply connected to Kacey, trying to keep an eye out for her on her patrols, but when she fails to get any sighting of Kacey for some time, she becomes desperately worried, particularly as there is a serial killer targeting women and prostitutes in the area. Moore paints a unforgettable human and compassionate picture of economic deprivation, the urban decay with its drug addicts, dealers and drug culture with a thoughtful and pertinent social and political commentary on the scale of the opoid tragedy.
This is a tough and challenging literary read, you cannot escape the harsh realities of drugs and life on the streets, and the inevitable repercussions on the people, families and communities caught up in it. This is a beautifully written, intricate, complex, and compelling novel, about family, sisters, love, corrupt police officers and despite the darkness, heartbreak and sorrow, with the much needed presence of hope. Many thanks to Random House Cornerstone for an ARC.
In Long Bright River, we follow two sisters, Mickey and Kacey, who lost their mother young to addiction and their father soon after to abandonment. They were then raised in the harsh unloving environment of their grandmother. Mickey eventually joined the police force, but Kacey could not resist the call of addiction. When Kacey goes missing and women starts turning up dead in their neighborhood, Mickey is compelled to uncover what really happened.
This book starts out amazingly. The story of the two sisters, coming from similar circumstances but with one building a life for herself while the other falling to addiction and petty crime, is a compelling one. So is the dynamic between the two, especially Mickey's pain and dilemma when faced with her sister's deterioration.
But then about half way through, the book just lost steam for me. One of the most difficult aspects of addiction is the agony it has on loved ones. Should they intervene or respect the addict's autonomy and right to make decisions? How many chances do they give the addict before they write them off for good? This book starts to address these, but it didn't go anywhere. Instead, Mickey tramples all over Kacey in her effort to save her, yet never gains any insight into what she did wrong in the process.
Also, for a policeman, Mickey is awfully naive and slow-witted. There were so many moments when she was faced with some common situation, and she would freeze up and not know what to do or say. She clomps around in her heavy-handed effort to "help", but she just makes things worse. At one point, after she was given a tip from a source who wished to remain anonymous, she went ahead and broke that confidentiality. She makes many questionable and unethical decisions throughout the book, which were then never adequately addressed. The more I read, the less I could relate to Mickey.
For me, having a dumb and slow female protagonist is a pet-peeve that drives me crazy. Combined with the fact that this book never really reached beyond the surface when addressing the complexity and nuances of addiction and its fallout, and this turned out to be just a middle-of-the-road read for me.
Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Author), Allyson Ryan (Narrator)
This story broke my heart, not just for the main character and her family, but for all the people who struggle with addiction day in, day out. This story deals with the opioid crisis but it's also about other addictions, to work, to sexual vices, to violence, to choosing to run from help. The children always suffer and some of those children are addicted from the day they are conceived. How fair is that? Life isn't about being fair and that's another theme of this story.
Mickey is a Philadelphia cop and she is dedicated to her job. She had wanted more when she was young, wanted it all, the college degree, the marriage, the house, the dog, the kids. She dreamed of these things despite the fact that she's really not seen any of that close up. It's the life of the kids that have intact families with secure jobs and both parents and financial security. Her family's legacy is drug addiction and that just leads down a very dark path.
Mickey's sister, Kacey, has disappeared and Mickey is worried because there seems to be a connection to a series of murdered women. Kacey is a drug addict and she works the streets. She could be just the kind of woman this murderer is targeting. So Mickey starts looking for her, risking her job, the only thing that is keeping Mickey and her four year old son from living a life of poverty. This story is so sad and the love Mickey has for her son almost hurts. She wants so much to give her son what she never had, the attention, the very clear feeling of love and security, good memories that can lead him toward a good, solid, future family.
I listened to the audiobook and at first the narrator's way of narrating irritated me. Her voice had a flatness to it and I thought it would be hard to listen to it for thirteen plus hours. But as I listened to the story, her narration began to feel perfect to me. I could feel that this was Mickey, this is how Mickey would talk and think because of all she had lived through and all she dreaded for the future. The last lines of this story say it all for those who are addicted. It hurt to hear those lines, during that last scene, but that's what this book is about, that is the fight that is being fought.
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 page.
This book about a cop (Mickey) searching for her missing junkie sister was a decent mystery but no great shakes. I hate it when I don’t love a book that everyone else does, but there I was, getting lukewarm when I wanted hot. For me, a case of overhype.
-Surprisingly, this long book was a fast read, which hardly ever happens when there’s a hefty page count.
-Realistically portrayed addiction and its brutality.
-The relationship between the sisters was complex and gut-wrenching.
-The main character was well-drawn and kind.
-The plot was mildly interesting, though a little hackneyed.
-A couple of decent twists. Okay, okay, they were exciting.
-I don’t like ‘em long, and this baby went on for nearly 500 pages! Luckily, it didn’t feel like a 500-pager, but still, the story didn’t need to be that long.
-The search for sis got boring; way too much time spent looking for her (more than half the book), while we had to listen to Mickey reflect on the search, when and how the sister went wrong, and her guilt in sis’s downfall. This is where some of those 500 pages could have been chopped—the thoughts seemed repetitive.
-Mickey has a cute kid, but I can take only so much of a cute kid. When the author described the kid’s adorable sleep poses, I knew I was in trouble. If there are cute kids, there has to be extraordinary behavior or conversation—otherwise, BOR-ING and too syrupy, as was the case here.
-Mickey was the stereotypical working mom who was guilty about leaving her kid with sitters so often. Enough already; I was being hit over the head with it. Pretty predictable.
-Even though Mickey was well-drawn (and a good soul), I didn’t feel attached to her. (Actually, not feeling a connection to the main character is often the deal-breaker, the single thing that keeps a book out of 4- or 5-star land.)
-One plot point (the relationship between Mickey’s ex and junkie sis) was dropped, or at least was too vague; I didn’t quite get it.
-I predicted a couple of twists. Funny—predicting things always makes me smug, but it also annoys me that I could do so; the plot should have outsmarted me.
-I hardly ever highlighted.
Final verdict: Liked it, just didn’t love it—more than a meh for sure. Again, though, I must beware of hype!
An extremely well-written, gut-wrenching, powerful story about addiction and the bond of sisters.
Raised by their less than interested grandmother, Mickey and Kacey grew up looking after one another. They were as close as sisters could be. As a teenager, Kacey mixes with the wrong crowd and becomes a drug addict leading to a life on the streets. The sisters become strangers to one another. Mickey joins the local police force but can’t ignore the constant tension of worry that one day she will find Kacey in a bad state on one of her work calls. Will Kacey ever get the help and support she needs? Will the sisters ever be as close as they once were?
I was invested in this story from page one. The story is told through Mickey’s perspective and it is intense. Mickey is a strong yet vulnerable character who I loved. What she endured while keeping her loyalty to her sister was heart wrenching. The bond of sisterhood is a strong one. The pace and flow of the book was excellent - it kept me fully engaged from start to finish. The writing was smooth and engrossing. I had a constant sense of tension and dread in my stomach in wonder of what Kacey’s outcome would be. I truly felt for Mickey and all that she had to endure.
This was a Traveling Sister read with Brenda. We both LOVED it and highly recommend!
Thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC!
I definitely wouldn't call this a thriller. It sorta has a small mystery but mostly it's an emotional story about a family's struggles with addiction.
Told entirely from Mickey's point if view. She's a cop in Kensington, Philadelphia. Estranged from her sister - a heroin addict - but she is able to keep an eye on her since she patrols the area (streets) that her sister frequents (works) Then her sister mysteriously goes missing, while at the same time there is a killer targeting the young women in the community.
I realize this story is fiction but Kensington is a real place and has a shockingly sad amount of people who are opioid addicts. I googled it and 1150 people died from overdose last year in Philadelphia. This was a very difficult book to read, knowing so many are struggling in similar ways.
I've reduced 0.1 ⭐ just because I have a small, silly pet peeve with authors that don't use enough contractions. It makes a sentence sound robotic to me. 🙂✔ I'm going for a walk but it's cold out so I won't be long. 🤖❌ I am going for a walk but it is cold out so I will not be long.
4.5 What a page turner! Riveting story of two sisters living in the Philadelphia area that is being rocked by the opioid crisis! Mickey,is a cop and her younger sister Kacey is an addict who is living and working on the street. Kacey has been missing as a string of mysterious murders start taking place so as Mickey walks the street on her police beat she’s on the search for her sister. This story goes back and forth from Now and Then, as we are also taken back to their childhood. Story of sisters, family, addiction..and a mystery. Loved it!
Audiobook.... ....narrated by Allyson Ryan 13 hours and 9 minutes. I pre-ordered this book 3 months before it was released with excited anticipation.
After having read two other engrossing - thought-provoking-long lasting memorable novels by Liz Moore.... I jumped with urgency to get my hands on “Long Bright River”. After a long-impatient-restless wait, finally my turn arrived.
“Heft”, was incredible: an incredible ‘standout’ in audiobook format. “Unseen World” - was phenomenal: phenomenal in ebook format.
“Long Bright River”....was long-winded: even longer winded as an audiobook- choice.
I wouldn’t call this book an incredible or a phenomenal engaging experience- but it was mysteriously engaging. Abstractedly it was brilliant, ambitious, with creative crafting. Experientially it was a mixture of puzzling, (an overall depressive tone), but it was intriguing.... with thoughts lingering.
At times it felt like this book would never end.... but I was in no rush. I was rooting for this novel - I wanted to eventually feel the magic -the power- the ‘wow’. Soooooo.... “Fine, I said to myself, I can ride this out like a long steady marathon run”. And that’s what I did. With a few ‘long’ non-stop listening sessions ( lucky to have this much free time)....it took me 4 or 5 - ( I already can’t remember), days to finish it.
Occasionally I took notes... thinking “I’ll need to find something intelligent to say in a review”.... but most of the time ....I just listened with interest and wonder.
...It’s a story about two sisters: (one that didn’t want to be found - one who never stopped looking) ...A story about a city.... a city within a city...(Kensington, Pennsylvania) ...long labored loneliness... ...a long stretched out mystery/crime thriller... with a serial killer to be found. ...a long list of names of people who were addicted: opioids. ...a long time until I had a ‘first’ genuine laugh: “I puked”, says Thomas. ...a long time until a genuine ‘surprise’ was revealed.
Favorite character: *Mrs. Man* - an elderly woman - retired nun- a retired nurse - widowed for 5 years - She was cozy-caring- qualified- trusted-caretaker to the charming child, Thomas... and great supported friend to Micky Fitzpatrick.
Broken down in pieces - this book could be examined - -long hours of cerebral discussions. With many characters worth chatting about.
At times there was delicious storytelling.... Other times...”Long Bright River” was flat stylistic monotone.
A novel that is the opposite of bright...(3rd place for me - next to “The Unseen World” and “Heft”)..... but damn... I’m still a big Liz Moore fan.
Lindsay, I decided to download Long Bright River at the last minute, and we are so glad we did not miss this one. It is a thoroughly worthwhile reading experience that will stay with us for a while.
Long Bright River is a love story between two very different sisters who are bonded together by their toxic childhood. The story centres around the opioid crisis in a Philadelphia neighbourhood. Their childhood shapes them differently, with Kacey now lost in the streets and Mickey, a police officer on the streets searching for Kacey.
Long Bright River is profoundly moving and an affecting quietly written story with no drama that captures the raw reality of addiction not only on a loved one but a neighbourhood devasted by an epidemic with real, honest, strong characters. Liz Moore skillfully weaves a murder mystery here while exploring the bond between Mickey and Kacey through now and then chapters. I loved Mickey, and she is not without flaws making her a very relatable character. While we follow Mickey's journey to find Kacey and the mystery unfolds, Liz Moore creates a profound picture of how their lives parallel what is happening in the neighbourhood. She creates tension and suspense her with the mystery element to the story with some great twists that tie so well into the story. I highly recommend not missing this reading experience.
This book is a suspense mystery/thriller. I could not put this book down. This book has some hard hitting things so I would look into those if you get bother by reading things (like drug use). I do not want to give away to much about this book, but it is at the heart of it is about two sister that grown up in there Grandma house. One sister is a cop and the other is a drug user that is missing. The characters are easy to want to keep follow, and this book is well-written. This book also has some great twists and turns. I did not see the twists and turns coming, so I did not guess them. I will have to say this book will not be for everyone. I won an arc of this book for a goodreads giveaway, but this review is 1oo% my own opinion.
4.5 Stars: It’s hard to categorise Long Bright River by Liz Moore. Firstly, it’s a realistic and frightening look at the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia (or America …. or the world, I guess). Secondly, it’s a very human story of a single woman trying to bring up a four year old in harsh surroundings and thirdly it’s a story that involves crime (often fuelled by the drug problem) - crime that’s ugly and sad, and has laid waste to parts the city. Michaela (Mickey) Fitzpatrick, as well as being a single mum is also a cop. Not earning a lot she struggles doing the right thing by her son. Juggling childcare with a demanding job often feels overwhelming. Mickey’s troubled, parentlesss upbringing and failed relationships mean that support is largely absent, even her boss has inexplicably got it in for her. On top of all of these worries, Mickey’s sister, Kacey, has gone missing. The sisters have always been close but are now largely estranged - Kacey as she grew up, gradually succumbed to pier pressure and the hard world around her - playing truant, drinking, using drugs, becoming addicted and getting involved in petty crime and prostitution. Kaceys disappearance coincides with a series of murders of young vulnerable sex workers, murders that are seen as being a sad but unsurprising, everyday feature of the neighbourhood …….… Mickey of course is worried sick. The twists and turns of the investigation are riveting, but also understated and credible. The once grand, Kensington area of Philadelphia is now a crumbling, deprived neighbourhood. The descriptions of boarded up shops, needle strewn waste ground and desolate snowy streets haunted by users and sharp faced dealers in thin hoodies, are very powerful. There’s a sense of hopelessness that pervades the story and Mickey is definitely a flawed character who makes mistakes, but her absolute determination to do the right thing and act honourably is a positive note. The writing is so easy, smooth and realistic it feels like you are there (although you sometimes wish that wasn’t the case) Whether or not this is primarily a thriller, a human drama or a social comment, Long Bright River is a hard book to put down. Although melancholy and often heartbreaking, it’s one of the most emotionally gripping stories I’ve read in a long time.
Update: 4.5 stars This book proves the fact that timing is everything. Apparently I am more of a mood reader than I thought, and Christmas week with a very ill dog (now recovered) was the wrong timing. I normally love a slow burn but I set it aside. I recently picked it up again, and this time I was totally engaged and captivated. I flew through it in one day and ended up loving it, confirming that the author remains one of my favorites.
I'm still not a fan of the lack of quotation marks, and for that reason I rounded down. Highly recommended!
Original review: At 25% (124 pages) I am setting this aside for now. Perhaps the timing is wrong but this slow burn was too slow for my taste with pages and pages of musings and repetitiveness about the MC's sister, who has a drug problem, and their dysfunctional childhood.
The bleakness and the lack of quotation marks adds to it's lack of appeal.
Perhaps I'll revisit it another day. This might be a better winter read than a Christmas week read.
I received a digital copy of the book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
When it comes to literary fiction, if I’m being frank, the dirtier it is, the better it is. By that I mean, I like it complicated, messy and at times, really difficult, because in my opinion, that is real life.
Lucky for me, “Long Bright River” by Liz Moore certainly fit that bill and then some.
Long Bright River is a novel about dysfunction, layered on top of even more dysfunction - just how I like it.
Sisters, Mickey and Kacey couldn’t be more different. Growing up on the outskirts of Philly where drugs run rampant, both sisters took very different paths. Mickey became a cop, Kacey became an addict, and then some. Kacey’s life is not pretty, though she never purported it to be. What it is, is ugly, hard and wholly prevalent. Mickey took a different path, and is now a single mother, working a demanding job, always worried that Kacey won’t last another day.
While patrolling Kensington, where Mickey resides, bodies of female victims start piling up. Someone is on the hunt and Mickey appears to be the only one to spot a pattern. Unfortunately, Mickey also realizes that her sister Kacey has been missing from the streets for over a month.
All Mickey knows is that Kacey’s situation could be perilous. Intense desperation, utter despair, and a driving need to find her sister, lead Mickey on a hazardous goose chase.
A gritty, character-driven novel that leaves it all out on the table.
A buddy read/listen with Kaceey that was sitting in our queues for way too long. So glad we finally got to it. For me, this was a top read for 2020!
Thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing Group - Riverhead Books for the arc. Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of the audiobook.
Attacco al cuore del grande paese americano: una delle sue città più antiche, uno dei suoi luoghi simbolo (qui furono redatte sia la Dichiarazione d’Indipendenza che la Costituzione), qui, molto dopo, lungo il fiume Delaware, il Long Bright River del titolo originale, si sviluppò un enorme distretto industriale con acciaierie maestose come cattedrali: e qui, oggi, la droga, l’abuso di farmaci oppiacei, la delocalizzazione, la de-industralizzazione, la Rust Belt in smantellamento, ormai sul serio ‘arrugginita’, la crisi economica e sociale stanno frantumando, sbriciolando, dissolvendo l’anima della nazione a un ritmo di tre morti al giorno per overdose.
Liz Moore seleziona un quartiere tra i più antichi, Kensington (quello oggetto del magnifico reportage fotografico di Jeffrey Stockbridge), ex quartiere operaio oggi trasformato in “bucatoio” a cielo aperto, dosi vendute per strada, farmaci antidolorifici a base di ossicodone spacciati agli incroci, spettri e zombie ambulanti che si prostituiscono notte e giorno per potersi sparare in vena la prossima dose.
Se non che, Liz Moore sceglie di farlo – ed è capace, ci riesce a meraviglia – senza tinte forte, a pennellate leggere, a piccoli tocchi, raccontando tutto, senza nascondere nulla, a ciglio asciutto ma col cuore pieno di pietas e partecipazione. Sceglie di raccontare una storia che ha elementi del giallo e del thriller (polizia, cacci al serial killer, cadaveri rinvenuti, indagini, interrogatori, pedinamenti…), ma che resta umana più che umana, tenera, intima, delicata, dove giusto e sbagliato non hanno limiti invalicabili (la ex suora insegna al figlio della protagonista narrante a giocare a scacchi, e la grande lezione è: non ci sono pezzi buoni e pezzi cattivi, sono tutti sia buoni che cattivi).
L’io narrante, Micaela, più spesso chiamata Mickey, è un’agente di polizia in pattuglia a Kensington che conosce la strada e la gente che la popola. Ha un figlio che compie cinque anni, vive in affitto da una signora che si rivelerà un magnifico personaggio ricco di passato e svolte, è alla ricerca della sorella minore persa nelle strade dell’eroina e dei suoi affini e derivati. Mickey ha poco più di trent’anni, ha difficoltà a mostrare le sue emozioni, è abituata a nasconderle, e non piangere, fa fatica a metterle in parole: ”Ti voglio bene.” Non mi sono mai fidata delle parole, soprattutto non di quelle utilizzate per descrivere le emozioni, e in quella frase c’è qualcosa di artificiale, di fasullo.
Liz Moore evita cliché e convenzioni del genere letterario di riferimento, mette in scena persone ancora prima di personaggi, racconta un’intensa storia familiare, di quelle che in questo paese la letteratura e il cinema ci propongono spesso: famiglie disfunzionali, slabbrate, smembrate, genitori assenti, anaffettività, violenza domestica. Ma non indulge nella tentazione del raccapricciante, del particolare impressionante, non dimentica una qualche forma di redenzione finale, per quanto per nulla scontata, non trascura di coinvolgere anche associazioni e iniziative nate dalla e per la strada, la partecipazione diretta di chi sceglie di dare una mano.
This book is a wonderful mix of family drama and mystery. Mickey is a beat cop in Philadelphia. Her sister is a drug addict, who has gone missing. When bodies of young women start turning up strangled, Kasey’s disappearance becomes even more concerning. The book alternates between the present day and the sisters’ youth. We get to see the background and the influences that turned each girl into the woman she is in the present. Moore captures the feel of Kensington, a rough, down on its heels part of Philadelphia. This isn’t a fast paced mystery. Instead, it’s a character driven book about the ripple effects of addiction on family, friends and neighborhood. Everyone felt very real to me. I found myself totally invested in Mickey, especially when she’s torn between the love for her son and her sister. As the various twists are revealed, my anger increased. If you need a feel good ending, this isn’t the book for you. It’s way too realistic for that. Although we at least are given glimmers of hope. The narrator, Allyson Ryan, perfectly captures Mickey’s somewhat detached persona. As an introverted child, I felt a real affinity for Mickey.
I am in the minority here, but there is nothing that compels me to continue with this one at this time. It could very well be my current frame of mind, but it has taken me 3 evenings to read 86 pages‼️
I am thinking I will go back and give this one another try at some point, but for now I can’t imagine reading almost 400 more pages when I am just not very interested.
Also, quotation marks aren’t used when characters speak, so that’s interesting.
My sincere thank you to Penguin Random House UK, who sent me a physical published copy.
Long Bright River has been sitting quietly and lonely on my shelf for well, let’s just say too long! Not sure why. Just never felt like the right time to read it. Once the audio version became available I knew it was the perfect opportunity to dive in and enjoy both the written and listening experience.
Mickey grew up in Philadelphia where she now serves as a police officer. Having lost several many family members to drugs, Mickey is now fearful of losing her younger sister Kacey to the same demons.
Closing in on what could potentially be a serial killer of young females living on the streets, Mickey prays her sister won’t be among the victims.
This is a slow burn of a thriller, putting you on the dark, back-alley haunts of one of the more undesirable sections of Philadelphia. Providing a front-row seat as you witness the utter devastation drugs have had, leaving so many lives in ruins.
The narrator did an amazing job to keep me engaged throughout. Highly recommend.
If this one is still sitting on your shelf it’s time to pick it up. You’ll only regret waiting so long.
Liz Moore’s literary thriller is a realistic look at the drug culture, particularly the opiod crisis, that abounds in many cities and towns in America and around the world. It’s gritty and brutal and pulls no punches when it shows the devastating effect of addiction not only in destroying the lives and potential of so many young people but also in pulling apart families.
Kensington was once a respectable working class neighbourhood in Philadelphia, but as jobs became scarce, houses have been abandoned and drug users and prostitutes have moved in. Mickey is a cop who patrols this district, often keeping her eye open for her sister Kacey who unfortunately is an addict living on the streets. Mickey and Kacey lost their mother to a drug overdose when they were young and, with their father estranged, were brought up with the tough love by their grandmother Gee, herself struggling financially and resentful of being saddled with her daughter’s children. Although the girls were close growing up, Mickey realised she had to let Kacey go while she is unable to overcome her addiction.
When several young women are found dead in the district, the police suspect there is a serial killer in the neighbourhood and Mickey discovers that no one has seen Kacey for several weeks. Using family and police contacts Mickey begins looking for Kacey and trying to make sense of who could be killing women. Everyone seems to know more than they are saying making her job difficult and putting her in danger.
There are many layers to unpack in this dark, complex novel. Mickey has not escaped damage growing up in a difficult environment and struggles with her feelings of guilt and helplessness over her sister’s plight. She avoids contact with her extended family and as a single mother of a young child, worries over his future and her ability to be a good mother to him. Her loneliness and fears for her sister is also compounded by her feelings of remorse for her long-term police partner and only friend, who received a serious injury while on the beat with her, and now has trouble reaching out to him for advice and support. While the murder mystery is one compelling and suspenseful aspect of this novel, there is so much more to it with its themes of love, sisterhood, addiction and corruption and ultimately humanity. Although the nature of the subject may make for difficult reading, this novel is well worth reading for its beautiful writing, unique characters and compassionate story as well as for its well paced thriller.
With many thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for a digital ARC to read.
Liz Moore continues her literary genius with her latest novel and it is such a relief to have my high expectations confirmed and exceeded. I think one of the things I love most about Liz Moore is that her stories are multi-layered and written in such a way that you become that character so fully. You live the holistic experience of her main characters - you see through their eyes, feel their emotions and learn with their minds - everything that transpires in her books. I come away a different person after having read her work because I learn so much from her and the role of that particular character.
This book covers so many things so well: family relationships, the opioid crisis, life as a female police officer, socioeconomic disparity, etc. etc. Every theme is seamlessly woven through this story from the perspective of Michaela Fitzgerald that my eyes devoured each page as quickly as they would go. This book takes a patient reader and I'm glad that I'm more mature in my reading now that I can be content with waiting for what will unfold. Years ago, I would have been bored with following Mickey in her day to day life. (No disrespect to anyone who might have been bored - reading a book is an individual experience to us all.) The point I'm trying to make is that it makes me sad to think about all the books I missed out on, but in order to get better at something you have to practice. I'm glad I've put in the practice to appreciate this kind of book now.
One last point I would like to make - Even though both books are very different, I found myself thinking about Saint X (review here) at times. I thought the way the history of Philadelphia was sprinkled throughout the story was intensely interesting and helped flesh out this story even more. It was so atmospheric and wonderfully described that I felt like I knew those streets as well as Mickey did while she patrolled. I didn't feel that way with Claire in Saint X as she narrated her journey through the streets of NYC. Maybe this point is unfair of me, but it just highlighted to me again how well done this book really was.
Thank you to Edelweiss, Riverhead Books, and Liz Moore for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.
I would categorize this as literary suspense. It has the elements of a police procedural but the writing is so much better than that. Mickey is a beat cop walking the mean drug addicted streets of Philadelphia while her sister, Kacey, lives on those very streets as a strung out sex worker. The cop watches out for her sister despite their estrangement and becomes alarmed when a number of prostitutes are found murdered. Moving between the sisters’ adolescence and adulthood, this is about broken families, broken hearts and broken people. Intricately plotted with richly drawn characters and a vivid sense of place, don’t miss this novel reminiscent of Tana French.
Long Bright River is a compelling story of family, sisterhood, and relations, full of suspense and drama. Set In a Philadelphia neighborhood, rocked by the drug crisis, in a city where addiction and crime are now rampant. The story focuses on two sisters, Mickey, a police officer, and her sister, Kacey; an addict and prostitute, who has now drifted far away from Mickey’s life. Then Kacey disappears and at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey's district, and Mickey is in a race against time to find the culprit--and her sister--before it's too late.
Long Bright River is both; a story of sisters with ties beyond blood and fate and an engrossing suspense novel focused on the search for Kacey. The story is narrated in alternating timelines; both present and the past. The story is narrated entirely from Mickey's point of view, as she recalls, in flashbacks, the girls' tragic childhoods and their story up to the present. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces begin to fit in slow and the whole picture becomes clear slowly.
This is not an easy read. It highlights the rising drug crisis in working-class America and paints a bleak picture of the downward spiral of a drug addict and how it affects entire families. As a mystery, the story has many twists and turns but at its heart, it’s an emotional story. To be fair, it covers many issues like addiction, police corruption, dysfunctional families, and a crime against women but every theme is seamlessly woven through this story. Moore captures the dark and disturbing atmosphere perfectly, like an omnipresent character in the story.
Liz Moore does a good job of creating every character in the book, especially Mickey. She's not always the reliable narrator either and neither is her character the most perfect. As we uncover secrets Mickey has avoided dealing with in her adult life, we discover that every character in this book is flawed and hence so human.
The story was more of a slow burn than a page-turning thriller. So it may be hard to get into in the beginning. I enjoyed this book but never fully felt invested. While the twists made sense but they weren't ultimately that shocking. The mystery portion of the book did felt lacking as the primary focus is on the family drama.
Overall though, Long Bright River is well-written, engaging, and moving at most times. The characters are well crafted and multidimensional. If you love thrillers and family drama, this book is for you.
Many thanks to the publishers' Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss for the ARC.
I knew zero about Long Bright River before attempting to get my hands on a copy. All I knew was I loved Heft and when I recognized the author’s name I wanted to give her new release a shot. When I found out it was a dope story, wellllllll . . . . .
Grit lit is most certainly my bag.
The story here is of two sisters. Mickey works on the right side of the law as a beat cop in Philly, her sister Kacey is a drug addicted prostitute. At its most basic, this is a “whodunit” when Mickey discovers Kacey might be officially missing at the same time as several women with a connection to the seedier side of life have been murdered. And believe me, that story is done well. It absolutely did not feel like 500 pages. What I did not expect whatsoever was . . . . .
No, not really. I’ll spare you the soapbox regarding my feelings on 99.99999% of the times that term is used, but let’s just say this one hit waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too close to home. You can stop reading here if you’re only interested in book specifics because I really have nothing to offer. Instead I’m going to get real personal.
Long Bright River resonated with me because I could relate to it on a whole different level. You see, I work in law and have a sister who died of a heroin overdose. She often went “missing” and turned up again only because she needed some money. I can only assume she more than likely whored herself out in order to get a fix when she did not have other means of obtaining money. She painted herself the victim and blamed every bad decision she ever made on her upbringing – which was the same upbringing I had and yet somehow I managed to become a fairly productive member of society. She had drug addicted baby after drug addicted baby. One died (basically at her hands because even though said baby was born addicted, she was still sent home with a garbage human to care for her who unplugged the breathing/heart monitor due to it “malfunctioning and beeping all the time” - a/k/a she was stoned, her baby dying was interrupting her high, and when she finally came to it was too late to resuscitate). A second baby died. Three more were taking in by a relative and since my sister never managed to make any supervised visits/not piss dirty eventually legal custody was granted in whole to that wonderful family. Another went to a family battling infertility and thankfully they were able to legally adopt her after the system ran its tedious, never-ending second/third/fourth/eightieth chance process. We thought she was going to go to prison once and we were so happy because at least she would have a roof over her head, food, and a chance at court-ordered rehab to get clean . . . but then she was released with a slap on the wrist (and trust me, manufacturing methamphetamine SHOULD NOT be a charge with fucking probation as the punishment), came out and spiraled out of control until her death.
As I said, I don’t think I’ve ever related to a story like I did this one. I have never had a book bring out so much real life, personal anger in me. I’ve never wanted to throat punch a fictional character like this. I’ve never had a twist that I cheered for as much as this one and I’ve never agreed with a character’s actions like I agreed with Mickey’s. My notes say real brilliant things like “fuck you” and “fuck you twice” because I was raging out so hard. I’ve never wanted someone to not be dead just so I could tell them what a fucking selfish/bullshit artist/baby killing/first world problem having piece of garbage they were because I was too cowardly to do it when they were alive and Liz Moore brought all of those repressed feelings to the surface (and out of my screaming face in the safety of my car where my children couldn’t hear me). Obviously this book might not generate the same type of emotion in most of you.
The weird non-use of quotes but using dashes instead and still saying “he said/she said” after every bit of dialogue was annoying, though. There. There’s something about the book.
Although it's marketed as a thriller, Liz Moore's Long Bright River is more of a compelling story of a complicated relationship between two sisters and the events that sent them down the paths they travel. But even though it's not a thriller per se, it's still a tremendously well-written and emotional story.
Mickey and her younger sister, Kacey, used to be inseparable. From a young age, Mickey felt a need to protect Kacey, even though she was powerless to keep her from getting addicted to opioids, a common occurrence in their suburban Philadelphia neighborhood. After numerous instances of trying to pull Kacey out of trouble and help her get clean, the sisters drift apart and couldn't take more disparate paths: Mickey becomes a police officer while Kacey turns to drug dealing and prostitution to support her habit.
While the sisters cross paths periodically as Mickey is on patrol, they haven't spoken in some time. But when Kacey disappears right around the time a number of young women are winding up murdered, Mickey begins to fear more for her sister than she has in some time. She is determined to find her sister—and the murderer—before it's too late. But she'll need to contend with a supervisor who doesn't seem particularly motivated to find the culprit, a tangled web of family relationships that are difficult to navigate, the challenges of raising a five-year-old son on her own while occasionally dealing with the boy's father, and the guilt she feels for not being able to protect Kacey from all she faces.
The book alternates between past and present. It follows the sisters' relationship from childhood and the various challenges they dealt with, through to their estrangement, and there are some surprises thrown in for good measure. It also follows Mickey's investigation into the murders and her search for answers, as well as her desperaate hope that her sister doesn't become the next victim.
I enjoyed this book a great deal and found it was a powerful and emotional read. It's a poignant look at how we can choose to rise above the circumstances we are born into and raised in, or choose to be a victim, and how hard it can be to change your trajectory when you've fallen so far. It's also searing commentary about the opioid crisis in our country, which cuts down too many people.
Liz Moore is a terrific writer. I've read her last two books, Heft and The Unseen World, and each story she tells is so different. As long as you don't go in expecting a thriller, I think you may find this a really worthwhile read you'll remember.