Hutchinson Books January 2020
The first time I found my sister dead, she was sixteen.
Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing each year. But every time she sees someone sprawled, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey.
When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.
This was my Jaunary book of the month from Goldsboro Books and unusually for me I read it soon after it arrived. Why? The number of rave reviews on Instagram of course.
Set in Philadelphia, Mickey is a police officer, patrolling the streets and responding to emergencies, it’s where the action is at, but for Mickey it helps her to monitor her estranged sister and to keep the community safer. In this poverty ridden neighbourhood crime is rife, sex work is a means to fund addiction and no one cares for the fate of these desperados. But for Mickey it is personal, with a complicated family life, many of these street dwellers are familiar to her, from her childhood neighbourhood, her school and her family.
As sex workers in the district are getting killed Mickey’s anxiety increases and she is determined to solve the murders, before it is too late. This was a superb piece of crime fiction with so much packed into it’s 448 pages. Told in a then and now format the story builds as the reader learns about Mickey and her sister Kacey, growing up experiencing first hand the impact of narcotics. In the current time we follow Mickey as she attempts to protect the vulnerable women and discover who is killing them, finding herself on the outside after sharing her findings with her superior.
This book is comprehensive in its exploration of crime and deprivation impacting on communities who struggle to break the cycle. Women as victims is a central theme in terms of the sex workers being killed, but also in terms of the choices they are forced to make to survive and the actions of those paid to protect them. Mickey and her sister Kacey are different, Kacey followed the familiar route whereas Mickey opted for a career in the police. As an officer Mickey seems confident and in control, her backstory reveals more and I was impressed with how well formed she and all the characters were.
Both character and plot driven this book kept my attention and was a fairly quick read. Excellent crime fiction for sure but also appealing to anyone looking for a gritty and detailed read. Told in the first person voice of Mickey throughout, her voice is strong and her story authentic. Highly recommended by me and as we reach the end of February, my favourite book of the decade so far!
About the Author
Liz Moore is the author of the acclaimed novels Heft, recently optioned as a feature film, and The Unseen World, which was optioned for television. A winner of the 2014 Rome Prize in Literature, she lives in Philadelphia.