A murder in a small Southern town and secrets fighting to be let out. In the hands of a lesser writer, this book would wallow in clichés and pedantic descriptions, but in Neliza Drew’s debut novel, All the Broken Bridges, that is not the case.
Drew created a main character who is as defiant as she is broken and as capable as she is prone to make bad decisions. Davis Groves is the prodigal daughter except for her return to her drug-addict-prostitute mother, Charley, is without forgiveness. In fact, her mother wishes that she actually had killed Davis several years before.
The book opens with Davis getting a phone call from her drunken mother who mistakes her for Davis’ older sister. Her mother incoherently tells her that their youngest sister, Lanie, has been arrested for killing a man. With her mother in shambles, Davis drives up from northern Florida to the shores of North Carolina to take a hold of the situation. Drew’s first stop is Charley’s house where she discovers her mother in the midst of a suicide attempt.
She’d slashed her wrists. Again. As usual, she’d cut across just deep enough to make a big mess, but not deep enough to really kill herself absent copious amounts of blood thinners and some extended, unsupervised time. For a second, I wished she’d figure out how to do it right already.
I grabbed her wrists and wrapped them in a towel. “Old scars get too faint?”
“You!” She stared at me, terrified, and tried to back away. She slipped, hit her head on the toilet tank, and started screaming again.
I reached behind me and turned the water off, keeping her cornered. “You feeling okay?” I checked her eyes, but they didn’t seem abnormally large or small. “Did you take something?”
She shook her head without taking her eyes off my face. “You’re not real.”
You’re not real. These words haunt Drew’s wonderful novel as Davis battles against the town’s secrets. Drew fills All the Bridges Burning with non-stop action and in-your-face writing that brings to life the realistic determination of the protagonist. As good as the story is in All the Bridges Burning, mystery be damned as the book excels as Davis battles to come to terms with her own dark and dangerous secrets. Drew’s All the Bridges Burning is a gritty Southern Noir filled with drugs, death, and destruction.
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