Long Bright River 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. There’s a serial killer targeting young sex workers in Kensington; there’s police corruption and a good but unorthodox cop defying orders to pursue justice. But 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.
This is a compassionate tale, full of empathy for the low-lying members of society. Past and present lives are interwoven, giving us a taste of the family drama that led to the sisters splitting apart. There’s good psychology on offer, but the suspense elements lack that final twist of excitement: searching should always be more exciting than remembering. And the novel does suffer from the current fashion for all things miserable. Beware: it’s easy to come away from the final pages feeling despair more than hope.