Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Title: Long Bright River

Author: Liz Moore

Published: January 9th 2020, Hutchinson

Read an Extract

Status: Read January 2020 courtesy Penguin Books Australia


My Thoughts:

Long Bright River is a compelling literary novel of family drama and suspense from Liz Moore.

“There’s a body on the Gurney Street tracks. Female, age unclear, probable overdose, says the dispatcher. Kacey, I think. This is a twitch, a reflex, something sharp and subconscious that lives inside me and sends the same message racing to the same base part of my brain every time a female is reported.”

Set in a depressed neighbourhood of Philadelphia where the opioid crisis is taking an increasing toll on its residents, police officer Mickey (Michaela) Fitzgerald patrols the decaying streets of Kensington, always keeping a look out, among the prostitutes on the sidewalks and the drug addicts slumped in doorways, for her younger sister, Kacey. When it becomes clear that a serial killer targeting sex workers is stalking the ‘Ave’, Mickey begins a frantic search for both her missing sister, and the perpetrator, risking the job she loves, and even her own life.

I’m not always keen on a first person narrative but I found Mickey’s voice to be compelling as the novel moves between the story of the sisters’ difficult childhood (Then), and their present circumstances (Now). Moore’s characterisation of the sisters, and their complex dynamic, is nuanced and gripping. Raised by their resentful grandmother after the overdose death of their mother, the sisters were once close, but no longer speak. Nevertheless, Mickey tries to keep tabs on Kasey, who is lost in her addiction, driven by a potent mix of guilt, regret, and love, while barely holding together her own life.

Though the plot with regards to the serial murders is a little vague at times, it serves more as a backdrop to the multi-layered narrative that explores the devastating impact of opioid addiction on individuals, families, and communities, the dehumanisation of vulnerable persons, childhood neglect, sexual abuse, police corruption, and a myriad of other issues that define life’s struggles.

A thought-provoking, poignant story of loss, addiction, forgiveness, and healing, told with compassion and authenticity, Long Bright River is a powerful and absorbing novel.

“All of them children, all of them gone. 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.”


Available from Penguin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lotte Lauv | Author
    Jan 16, 2020 @ 23:15:56

    Cool cover!

    Lotte |

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Kay
    Jan 17, 2020 @ 01:48:23

    What a great review and it definitely encourages me to read this one. Thanks for sharing that last quote – wow!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Helen Murdoch
    Jan 17, 2020 @ 05:34:46

    I’m glad you liked this one, as I did, too. I liked the combination of a detective/police book with an important issues such as opioid use.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Literary Elephant
    Jan 17, 2020 @ 13:28:06

    Great review! I’m planning to pick this one up this month, so I’m glad to see you liked it!

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Mystica
    Jan 18, 2020 @ 18:28:05

    Thank you for the review. Author and book both new to me.

    Liked by 1 person


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  7. Kate W
    Jan 20, 2020 @ 15:00:36

    I’ve got this in the TBR stack – can’t wait to read it (I’ve only read her earlier book, Heft, which was brilliant).



  8. MarthaE
    Jan 20, 2020 @ 15:33:44

    The opioid epidemic is such a tragedy. This sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person


  9. readingwritingandriesling
    Jan 31, 2020 @ 01:25:03

    I just finished this – I loved it – easily one of the best books I have read since I started reviewing…nuanced, poignant, relevant.

    Liked by 1 person


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