Book Review | Long Bright River by Liz Moore

910o3wN4voLTwo 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.”

Title: Long Bright River
Author: Liz Moore
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Rating: ★★★★★

This book is so impactful. I would have never picked this up if it hadn’t been a Book of the Month pick. It wasn’t even on my radar before then. I truly think this deserves way more hype than it’s currently receiving. I hope if you see this, you’re swayed to pick this book up because it’s important!

This is a great commentary on the opioid crisis that’s ravaging cities in the US. Mickey, our main character, is a police officer in a city that’s really feeling the brunt of this crisis and to make matters worse, her sister is an addict in the same town Mickey patrols. The whole novel starts off with Mickey realizing she hasn’t seen her sister in a while at the same time, someone is murdering women, like her sister, who live on the streets and sell themselves for money. Of course, her mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario and any time someone new is found dead, she automatically thinks it’s her sister. The way the author wrote Mickey’s panic and dread was just so well done. I honestly felt it too. Especially as someone with a sister, I could imagine being in her shoes. Liz Moore seems to be a master at writing human emotion. I felt everything along with Mickey throughout the course of this novel which was almost unfortunate because a lot of it was so hard to read.

I also truly enjoyed the pacing of this story. It’s a big book at almost 500 pages but I had a hard time ever setting it down. It’s written in a way that completely draws you in. Most chapters are short and the book is also written in a ‘then-now’ format so just when you get to the edge of your seat in a ‘now’ section, the author flips it to a ‘then’ section and you have to read about the character’s past before getting back to what’s happening in the present. Though it frustrated me at the time, I enjoyed reading the backstory of these two characters. I think it caused me to be more invested in their stories once the perspective was switched back to the present. They both grew up together but they wound up on such different paths. Once again, it’s a commentary on how this crisis can truly impact anyone in our society and as someone who feels truly passionate about this, I just loved that this story has been published.

The only small issue I had was the way the author chose to write characters speaking. In 99% of novels, authors use quotations marks around characters speaking, i.e. “I’m going to the grocery store.” Liz Moore wrote characters speaking this way: -I’m going to the grocery store, she said. It was hard to get used to at first and I had to go back and reread those lines a few times to figure out what was spoken and what wasn’t, but it’s easy to get used to. It’s a very small negative in a sea of only positive things I have to say about this book.

Though this is marketed as a mystery thriller, I really think it’s mostly a study on how the opioid crisis is impacting cities, communities and families in the USA. Figuring out who the murderer was took a back-seat for me throughout the majority of this novel and that’s saying a lot as I usually read thrillers just to see “whodunnit”. The development of both Mickey and Kacey throughout the story was so well done and I had such an interesting time learning about them both. If this is a subject that intrigues you even in the slightest, I’d highly recommend picking this book up.

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