... extraordinary ... the mundane has been made menacing ... Moore is an astute social observer. Her depictions of Mickey’s isolation are sharp-eyed to the point of pain ... Moore is every bit as deft in constructing suspense ... nervously twists, turns and subverts readers’ expectations till its very last pages. Simultaneously, it also manages to grow into something else: a sweeping, elegiac novel about a blighted city. As Chandler did for various sections of Los Angeles, Moore — who lives in Philadelphia — excavates Kensington and surrounding areas in Philadelphia, illuminating the rot, the shiny facades of gentrification and the sturdy endurance of small pockets of community life.
Deftly plotted with strong, vivid characters, Liz Moore’s outstanding Long Bright River works as solid crime fiction and an intense family thriller … Moore skillfully explores the sisters’ bond from their closeness during their toxic upbringing to the decay of their relationship that seems almost irreparable … The clever plot and involving characters of Long Bright River set a high standard for this new year.
... electrifying ... In taut, propulsive sentences, Moore draws on the police procedural in conjuring a community on the brink while exploring tensions between two sisters on either side of the thin blue line ... the author has something more transgressive in mind—that is, to use the tropes of crime fiction in composing a deeper morality tale in which the heroes and villains commingle and even change places. Among the first novelists to dive into the riptides of the opioid crisis, Moore navigates assuredly through plot twists and big reveals ... equal parts literary and thrilling—a compassionate, multidimensional look at an epidemic that surrounds us ... it’s got all the ingredients that make for an unputdownable mystery, but it’s got something more, a narrator who leads you into unexpected places, and keeps surprising you until the end.
... a novel 10 years in the making that bears witness to the author’s extensive research and first-hand experience of the lives of those who fall through the cracks ... is being marketed as a thriller, but, as with the best crime novels, its scope defies the constraints of genre; it is family drama, history and social commentary wrapped up in the compelling format of a police procedural ... although the tropes are familiar to the point of cliche, the result feels startlingly fresh ... At the heart of the novel are questions about moral responsibility, and what it means to be honourable. It’s also an exploration of the vulnerability and strength of women. Moore – who volunteers with women’s groups in the area – has created a memorable portrait of the devastation created by poverty and addiction, and the compassion and courage that can rise to meet it.
The public and the personal intertwine in this meticulously detailed novel to tell the bigger story ... Told with the voice of a literary master at the top of her craft, the pace may be too slow for thriller readers, but for those who love a strong literary voice in their genre fiction or the voice of a crime writer in their literary fiction, this novel is a home run.
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.
Long Bright River’s authenticity stems from its attention to details. The Kensington neighborhood is vividly described ... There is convincing attention to the particulars of police work, both routine and investigative ... The novel also paints a haunting picture of an addict’s life that moves beyond the usual crime-solver clichés. Drug users are portrayed as complex human beings with the same emotional and spiritual needs as the non-addict ... Most of all, Long Bright River is a portrait of Mickey’s soul. Subdued, almost stilted prose is used to convey Mickey’s inner and outer struggle to maintain control over her professional and personal life, all while watching her sister crumble ... Mickey’s conscious attempts to suppress her emotions, with no real insight into the negative impact this has upon her and the people she loves, is painful to read and, as readers become invested in her story, painful to experience ... Mickey’s journey through the darkness, striving for light, is one that is not easily dismissed or forgotten.
One of the pleasures of this deeply moving, absolutely page-turning novel is the way Moore, in both the present and in flashbacks to Mickey and Kacey’s childhood and teen years, slowly peels back layer after layer, revealing the old-boy’s network in the Philadelphia police force, the depths of Mickey’s loneliness, and the way the city of Philadelphia, particularly Kensington, is woven into this story, for good or ill. Give this to readers who like character-driven crime novels with a strong sense of place.
In her fourth novel, Rome Prize–winning author Moore blends the reality of today’s deadly opioid crisis with a complicated family dynamic to create an intense mystery with stunning twists and turns. Impossible to put down, impossible to forget.
Moore weaves a police procedural and a family drama into a captivating novel ... The author presents several characters as the potential killer, and though seasoned readers may guess the culprit long before the reveal, Mickey’s personal journey that runs parallel to her pursuit is smartly crafted. Filled with strong characters and a layered plot, this will please fans of both genre and literary fiction.
The pace is frustratingly slow for most of the book, then picks up with a flurry of revelations and developments toward the end, bringing characters onstage we don’t have enough time to get to know. The narrator of this atmospheric crime novel has every reason to be difficult and guarded, but the reader may find her no easier to bond with than the other characters do ... With its flat, staccato tone and mournful mood, it’s almost as if the book itself were suffering from depression.