Long Bright River

Moore, Liz
Apr 9, 2020

The Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia is ravaged by the opioid epidemic. One sister, Mickey Fitzpatrick, patrols the streets as a police officer. The other sister, Kacey Fitzpatrick, works the streets and succumbs to addiction at an early age. The sisters keep their distance from one another now. Their relationship is strained but each hopes a reunion is right around the corner, just as soon as Kacey can get clean.  

Mickey narrates her harrowing and heartbreaking life in "Now" and "Then" chapters that unveil the slow, never ending battle against addiction as she watches her sister and best friend drift further away. The first "Then" chapter begins with the startling line, "The first time I found my sister dead, she was sixteen." At this point, you know this story is going to break your heart and make you see things differently. The hardness and measured discipline of Mickey is slowly unraveled showing a girl who lost her mother, father, and sister to heroin and pills. Their grandmother, Gee, raises them with anger and resentment. Mickey is now a single mother with an unreliable babysitter and a tough job. Her past is filled with disappointment, might-have-beens, and a personal credo to always do the right thing.  

After four women from the Kensington neighborhood are murdered, Mickey begins searching in earnest for Kacey. Using her contacts, her police skills, and her extended network of cousins and school friends to track down Kacey; Mickey tries to uncover who is killing women and leaving them to look like overdose victims. 

Moore's writing is meditative and movingly perfect. The tone is grim yet hopeful. The setting is so well-done that you'll feel you've seen the abandoned houses and lots, the overlooked homeless and addicts wandering the streets looking for their next fix. Long Bright River is a mix of police procedural and family drama creating an intensifying suspense. It is absorbing and incredibly good. 

Reviewed by Library Staff