Cover Image: Long Bright River

Long Bright River

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A heavy and intense read, but well worth it. I found it a little difficult to connect to the main character, but the overall story more than compensated for that.
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In choosing fiction, my preference is for narratives driven by emotion rather than action – I want to be in a character’s head and to know what they are feeling, as opposed to being a bystander, ‘watching’ what happens to them.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore is very much an action-driven story. It tells of two sisters, Mickey and Kacey, whose lives begin in the same troubled home but then take very different paths . Kacey lives on the streets of Kensington, Philadelphia, addicted to heroin, and doing what she has to do to feed her habit. Mickey also knows the streets of Kensington but that’s because she joined the police force. Although the sisters are estranged, Mickey keeps an eye out for Kacey. When a string of unsolved murders occur – the victims all young women with drug habits – Mickey fears for her sister.

Long Bright River is classed as a mystery. The suspense moves at a good pace – a few twists and turns but not so much that it becomes implausible. And although there are clues throughout, I didn’t guess ‘who dunnit’, so it held my interest until the end. However, this story had themes that offered the opportunity for much greater emotional depth, including what it means to act honourably; the impact of addiction on a family; and ambiguous grief. Kacey and Mickey’s mother died from an overdose when they were young. Mickey reflects on this while feeding her newborn baby, Thomas –

‘…for the first time I understood the choice my own mother had made to leave us – if not by design, then by her actions, her carelessness, the recklessness with which she sought a fix. I understood that she had held me – us – in her arms, and gazed at us as I was then gazing at Thomas. She had held us like that and had decided to leave me, to leave us, anyway.’

Notably, that was the only quote I highlighted in my copy of the book – the rest was largely ‘police procedural’.

I was interested to read an interview with Moore, whose own family experience with addiction had influenced the novel. The interview hints at the stuff I wanted from Long Bright River – an examination of relationships, and the complexities of loving someone who is doing the ‘wrong’ thing. But the original inspiration for the novel came from photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge’s Kensington Blues project (trigger warning), where he documents the human cost of opioid addiction. The images and videos captured by Stockbridge are devastating, and it’s like watching Long Bright River come to life.

3/5 Solid, as far as mysteries go.

I received my copy of Long Bright River from the publisher, Penguin Random House UK, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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I was really excited about Long Bright River but it fell short for me. I love character studies but I couldn't relate to Mickey. Her interactions with other characters feel clinical. We get descriptions of every terrible event that happened but none of the emotional fallout I would expect in her situation. 

I feel like this book tries to be many things at once but it’s essentially a police procedural disguised as literary fiction. Even until the end, I’m not sure what it’s trying to say. Police corruption? Murders of forgotten women? Single mothers? Bonds of sisterhood? All the elements are here but they never go beyond the surface. Also, I really dislike the lack of quotation marks! 

What I appreciate though is the book’s unflinching look at the perils of addiction, and how the effects ripple across generations. Substance abuse is a social problem and this shows how heartbreaking it can be to watch innocent lives get ruined. If there’s one thing the book did right, it’s to put a spotlight on how drug addiction leaves collateral damage in its wake.
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Such a wonderfully well-written account of addiction and the bond between two sisters. A harrowing account of the pain addiction causes and the effect on the whole family. Powerfully gut-wrenching.
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Told from Mickey's point of view, we follow two timelines, her childhood with drug addicted sister Kacey, and her search for her missing sister now.

Long Bright River is a bleak and unflinching look at the squalor and drive of drug addiction and its affects on friends and family of all ages.

A serial killer is murdering drug addicted prostitutes and patrol officer Mickey begins to fear that her sister, if not already a victim, will soon become one.

Everyone will fall under suspicion, Long Bright River has many twists and turns but what I enjoyed most was the character development. The unwritten codes of behaviour on each side of the tracks and the stark contrast between two sisters from the same terrible upbringing.

Watching Mickey struggle under the weight of her many hardships is not an easy read and for those who see the world in black and white this novel is a real eye opener. This story may be a fiction but for some it's life.
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This was an easy to read thriller thaylt kept my attention all the way through! Lots of twists and surprises I didn't see coming. Very good, would recommend!
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I seem to have read a different book to a lot of people.
The author was over descriptive which slowed the story nearly to a standstill.
I found the story line depressing.
Just not for me.
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This is the first book I've read by Liz Moore and after finishing it I hope to read more. by her. She's a talented writer who cover the issues surrounding addiction and the effect it has on not just the addict but the people around them.  The book tells the tale of two sisters in Philadelphia. Mickey, a police who is searching for her missing sister, Kacey, an opioid addict. A serial killer on the lose killing young female addicts.. Is Kacey's disappearance linked?
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Long Bright River is a wonderfully written story with a disturbing narrative.  I read this book out of curiosity and I’m so glad I did, I thoroughly recommend this crime thriller.

The characters are strong and believable.  Mickey is our heroine, she’s a police officer trying to find her sister Kacey who has recently gone missing, they were inseparable as children.  They come from a dysfunctional family and her sister's life has been one of drug addiction and living on the streets.  Mickey is trying her best to raise her young son, lives alone and keeps mostly to herself. 

The story is set in Kensington a neighbourhood of Philadelphia where we see the destructive nature of drug addiction and the harsh realities of sex workers and drug dealers on the streets where Mickey patrols. There is a serial killer on the loose and Mickey is worried that her sister may be his next victim.

A great read about family relationships, police corruption, harsh reality and hope.
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When a string of sex-workers are found dead on the streets of Kensington, Police Officer Mickey is determined to find the culprit – not just for the women on her beat but for her sister who is one of them. Will she be next?

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Long Bright River from its blurb – it seemed a little obvious and cliché for me at first impression which to be honest put me off picking it up for a little while. When I did get round to reading it however, I hold my hands up that I was completely wrong. Long Bright River is a well-written, intelligent, character-driven crime thriller. At almost 500 pages it is a long read although I always felt compelled to pick it up and keep reading it – I never got tired or bored with it. The plot jumps between Police Officer Mickey in the present day trying to find her sister and flashbacks of her past and family history. These are nicely balanced together, and I liked the character of Mickey – she is really interesting with a lot of hidden depth and layers to her. It was nice to have a real deep-dive into her past rather than just skimming over the important bits and this made her feel so much more rounded and realistic as a character. The background of Kensington is also really well-described and I really got a grip on the gritty atmosphere and politics of the place (despite thinking they meant the well-off area of London for the first chapter which really confused me!)

The crime itself was well-tied into Mickey’s personal story, although it does take a slight backseat to her finding her sister but it’s woven nicely into the plot to help increase the tension. It didn’t feel like too much was held back from the reader (other than what Mickey herself doesn’t know) although there was a great twist towards the end which pushed any assumptions you may have made about a certain character. The end reveal also had a twist on a twist which really threw me – there was a red herring had me thinking ‘well I totally guessed that really early on’ only for it to turn around and prove me wrong!

I was reading the Kindle ARC so I completely appreciate the formatting may have changed by the published product but it wasn’t the easiest format to read. Paragraphs and chapters were run together in places (including the acknowledgements and the final chapter which really jarred as my headspace as I tried to absorb the realistic but certainly not fairy-tale ending). There were also no quotation marks to establish dialogue which I think was a conscious choice and this actually worked quite nicely.

Overall, Long Bright Read is an intelligent, well-constructed thriller. Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin Random House – Hutchinson for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book captivated me from the beginning. Interesting characters, layered storyline with some twist that surprised me and impeccable writing. It's not always an easy read, the book centers around drug abuse, but did it well in my opinion. Highly reccomend!
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loved this book - would 100% recommend and am looking forward to reading what this author writes next!
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Wow! I kinda went into this book blind. I didn't know what it was about and I'm now glad as its subject matter makes for uncomfortable but powerful reading.
I won't give too much away but this book explores addiction and everything that encompasses that.
The narrator is Mickey the older sister of Kacey, this is a story of pain, and survival and ultimately how unconditional a sisters love is.
Told in alternating timelines from the past growing up in an unloving, troubled household to the present where two sisters choose very different lifestyles this book broke my heart and then very slowly repaired it.
Its raw and honest and opened my eyes to the devastation that addiction causes in a way that fiction hasn't done before.
I loved how real to life it felt and how sensitively the author portrays the taboo topics from abuse, addiction, and police corruption. 
Honestly this is a tough read, the character development is amazing, the writing is brilliant and the plot fast moving. 
Overall If anything I feel like I need a continuation of the story. It wrapped up quite open ended so I was left wanting more. 
This book will stay with me for a long time with characters that have left their mark.
I will be recommending this book to everyone.
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From the onset you can tell that this was going to be an attempt at a realistic portrayal of a world that most of us try our best to avoid.

Well, if you are truly wanting to avoid this world all together, and prefer a world of pure fiction, then maybe stay away from this novel. Liz Moore does the world of addiction and all its trappings and embellishments justice. This novel is a raw depiction of the drug affected life. And although its told from the perspective of the main protagonist, we get a glimpse into the lives of a range of characters, all affected in different ways.

In the end, no matter how dark, hopeless, and sad this world is, that even if there are those that take advantage, that deliver injustices, there are those on the other side, helping and providing hope. We are reminded that this world is ultimately filled with real people, with real stories, with real emotions and are humans just like you and me. There is a light, there is hope.

Thanks NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK for a review copy.
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This book has received a lot of hype, and for good reason. It's actually the first I've read from this author but I understand she's already an established writer with a loyal fan base. It's a blend of literary fiction and crime; a family drama, an expose of a city in crisis and a murder mystery all wrapped into one.

The author opens the book talking about her own experience doing community work in Kensington, Philadelphia and the opioid crisis there. She explains that the novel has been a decade in the making, and it's clear her insight and experience has been poured into it; the city itself is brought to life through a pragmatic local's eyes, its ongoing opioid crisis exposed and it feels gritty, authentic and real.

"Outside our windows: the usual mix of people seeking a fix and people in the aftermath of one. Half of the people on the sidewalks are melting slowly toward the earth, their legs unable to support them. The Kensington lean, say people who make jokes about that kind of thing. I never do."

Our protagonist, Mickey, is a policewoman patrolling the streets of Kensington. Many years on patrol have hardened her to the sights of the streets - heroin addicts, prostitution and murder are all part of the job. But she's got a secret she keeps close to her chest - her sister, Kacey, is one of those addicts, living life on the streets, doing whatever she can to get her next fix. Then, she hears Kacey has gone missing and starts to use her police skills and connections to take matters into her own hands.

The story moves between past and present, exploring Mickey and Kacey's relationship from childhood to present day. How did two sisters who were once so close end up follow such completely different paths? In the present day, Mickey is pulled deeper into the underground world of Kensington in a search for answers.

There are mystery and thriller elements to this book but, personally, I think if you go in expected a thrill ride you may be disappointed. There's a lot more to this book than a simple thriller; emotions run high in an eye-opening account of a city in crisis and a family at odds. A lot of heavy-hitting themes are explored - it's not an easy read in places - but at the core of the novel its a story of Mickey and her sister, a sibling relationship which holds a tenderness despite their differences. While there is a murder mystery weaved through the story and a good few plot twists in the final third, it was Mickey's character which kept me reading and an element of hope which carries the story through.
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I hemmed and hawed a lot whether I should pick up this book or not. I see the consequences of addiction and the long lasting effects on both the victims as well as their families at work, and it’s not pretty. Reading is an escape for me, and I wasn’t sure whether a hard hitting book about drugs would be for me. I even started reading it last month and put it aside again. But now that I have sat down and read it, I am so glad that I did!

Kensington, Philadelphia, is about as far removed from my reality as it gets, but with an author as talented as Liz Moore that was no hindrance at all. It wasn’t long until she had transported me into the dark alleys of the city, where people die from drug overdoses on a daily basis, where women sell their bodies for money for their next fix and where babies are born already in withdrawal. It’s a scary world, but handled with such compassion and care that the great human tragedy of the opioid crisis was brought very close to my heart without any political agenda or judgment of the people involved. 

Mickey is a policewoman who is very familiar with the terrible cost of the opioid crisis on human lives. Having grown up in Kensington, the daily confrontation with the effects of drug addiction are an everyday occurrence to her. But Micky has an Achilles heel – her own sister Kacey is one of the victims of the drug, and she has been missing for weeks. Every time Mickey finds the body of yet another woman on the streets, she is expecting it to be Kacey, and it emotionally breaks her.

I felt so sad for Mickey. Having lost her mother to a drug overdose when the girls were only small, Mickey and Kacey were sent to live with their grandmother, who didn’t bother to hide her resentment of having to look after two young children. I never quite understood why she was so horrible to those two little girls – she professed to be heartbroken over losing her daughter, and yet she seems to hate her granddaughters! Whilst Mickey is determined to make something of her life, her sister falls into the same trap as their mother did and becomes an addict. I can never fully understand what it would be like to grow up with such tragedy, and in such a scary and tragic neighbourhood. Here every family seems to have lost a child, a parent or a sibling to addiction, but the author portrays her characters so vividly that I found I could easily relate to their plight.

Part police procedural, part family drama, the story soon pulled me in with all its complexities and the mystery surrounding Kacey’s disappearance. Whilst I would not primarily call it a mystery, there are a lot of elements that define that genre, and a twist I did not see coming. I loved the way the author portrayed the relationship between the sisters, which ultimately drove the story for me.

LONG BRIGHT RIVER was a powerful, hard-hitting and gut-wrenching story that was handled with such insight, sensitivity and compassion for the victims and families affected that it was impossible not to be touched deeply by it. It’s not a happy read, and sometimes it felt like a heavy weight on my heart to pick it back up and keep reading, and yet I could not put it down. If you are finding it off to a bit of a slow start, stick with it, because it was worth it!
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Thanks to Penguin Random House UK and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Liz Moore's stunning 'Long Bright River' is one of those novels that stay with you long after the last page has been turned. Indeed, the all-pervading melancholy that Moore seems to effortlessly arouse in her readers is proof positive, if there were any doubt, that she is great writer of unparalleled skill and talent. This is not a cosy mystery by any means, however. It is all sharp-edges, grit, dirt, with pages populated by the cesspool of humanity whose basest instinct have been unleashed to devastating effect. It is a hard book to read, but equally, one of the most satisfying and important I have read in years. 'Long Bright River' is more that a thriller, no less than a compelling crime novel with social realism at this heart. It is not easy to combine the two without resorting to accusations of trivialising important issues, or turning, what is a novel, into a dry, unreadable, social policy manifesto. Moore is a 'goldilocks' author in this respect as she straddles the two with a deftness of touch that is truly awe-inspiring. This is no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches stuff. Substance addiction, prostitution, serial-murder is an unholy melting-pot that would make most crime writers, let alone readers,  blanche at the thought of tackling, with just the right nuance and 'edge'. Not for Moore and not for this book. In her own inimitable style, she has achieved the impossible; evidence, if needed, that Liz Moore is a true maestro of her craft. Compelling, cerebral and utterly astounding - highly recommended.
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A harrowing tale that focuses on 
drugs in the local neighbourhood, from police and participant. I could not put this story down!
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As well as being a crime story- it is about single parent and cop Mickey who is drawn to investigate the murders of prostitutes and heroin addicts in her local area in Pennsylvania.- Long Bright River is also a family story as it is about Mickey’s relationship with her estranged sister Kacey who is a prostitute and drug addict. She is also missing and Mickey fears the worst. Has she been murdered?
The current day story is interspersed with flashbacks to Mickey and Kacey’s childhood where they are brought up by their austere Grandmother, Gee, after their Mother and then their Father dies.
The serial killer aspect of the story is compelling but it is the family relationships and characterisations that add depth to this novel. Mickey and Kacey were once close although now they do not speak. However Mickey keeps an eye out for her as she works her beat as every addict she sees could be her sister.
I liked the relationship Mickey has with her young son, Thomas. She tries to bring him up in a loving home, something she lacked after her mother died. 
The developing relationship with her elderly next door neighbour was also interesting as it helped Mickey as well as her neighbour who enjoys feeling needed once again.
I don’t think the police procedural is the main focus of the book, it is more Mickey’s relationships
but the author still manages to build the tension and add a few twists before the killer is revealed.
I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it although it is a harrowing read in parts due to its theme of addiction and the way drugs affect newborn babies.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Long Bright River by Liz Moore is a haunting tale of drug addiction, murder, prostitution, lies, corruption, family and loyalty. An extremely heavy read made even better by the years of research, work and experience Liz Moore has put into this book. Long Bright River stands out from typical police procedurals.

Police Officer Michaela "Mickey" Fitzpatrick and her partner are called to the discovery of an unidentified female body which at first looks like a typical OD victim. Upon trying to identify the Jane Doe, Mickey is tormented by the worry that one day she's going to see the same thing happen to her estranged younger sister Kacey. Unable to shake her concern, Mickey starts to look around the usual places for her sister and makes some enquiries with her known friends but still comes up with nothing. Becoming more and more desperate, Mickey digs further into the desperate world of drug addiction and prostitution to try and find her missing sister, while the ongoing murder investigation of their Jane Doe ramps up. Mickey is pulled into scenarios where her professional ethics and morals are tried and tested as she desperately tries to track down her sister, desperate for her not to end up another unidentified Jane Doe.

The lists of names particularly make this book all the more haunting as these are people who have lost their lives on the streets due to their addictions. The biggest message in this book is that this can happen to anyone of us in the wrong circumstances... This could be your mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, etc. All people taken by addiction are someone's family and Long Bright River asks us not to judge the people who end up in this situation.

A really great book that feels real, true and heartbreaking. Very well told with exceptional insight into a world so few of us really understand or experience.

Thank you to NetGalley, Liz Moore and the publisher for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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