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.
Neliza Drew's has delivered one damn fine novel. I started to compare her protagonist Davis Groves to Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor or my own Moses McGuire, but although she lives in a similar world, Davis is undeniably herself.
Davis has solid steel ovaries. To protect her sisters, she battles curpt and mean hearted peckerwood dragons. Her suit of armor isn't only rusted it's tore all to hell.
This is one raging speed demon of novel. It is also heartbreakingly real. Neliza Drew understands pain and alienation. She sees the scars we inflict on ourselves and the ones the world gifts us with for daring to live outside their nine dots.
I will miss having Davis in my life and can only hope she can survive a sequel.
Davis Groves is damaged. Mentally and physically, she's been beaten and battered to within an inch of her life time and time again. But when her younger sister is arrested for murder, Davis returns home and puts all of herself on the line once again to try and save her.
Neliza Drew's debut novel will bruise you, it will batter you, and it will make you stand up and ask for more Davis Groves.
I found this to be a captivating novel. Neliza's style is different from any other author I have read. It took a few chapters to adapt. Then it just breaks loose and I couldn't put it down. I have just finished it and didn't want it to end. I am looking forward to her next one.
I've enjoyed this a lot. ALL THE BRIDGES BURNING is a domestic saga/crime drama with a powerful sense of realism. Davis Groves is a tremendous heroine because she's overcame a lot only to survive and she has to overcome and endure so much hostility and adversity throughout the novel. I'm not the most patient guy with art that celebrates the resilience of human nature, but this is done right. Neliza Drew understands what makes human beings beautiful.
There's a couple issues of a mechanical nature with this novel that I chalked to ALL THE BRIDGES BURNING being a first novel (they are issues you'll find in first novels over and over again). For example, it starts strong but never really changes speed. It's a 300 pages investigation, which is nice but it gets quite complicated and doesn't really have an atmosphere or a sense of place. Neliza Drew also tends to feed you what to think about certain scenes, which is a bad habit most writers overcome with experience. It's a pet peeve of mine, but it's not overbearing in this novel.
But I'm being nit-picky here. ALL THE BRIDGES BURNING is a very good mystery and Neliza Drew has a LOT of potential. She certainly has landed on my radar.
Neliza Drew's debut is a compelling, well-plotted mystery, but its real strength is its protagonist, Davis Groves. I haven't encountered such a complex and well-drawn character in a long time and hope that Drew continues the series for awhile to come. To say that Drew has writing chops is an understatement--she's one of the best debut writers I've had the pleasure of reading. Ever. With an evocative setting and a group of supremely dysfunctional but nevertheless realistic characters, All the Bridges Burning is a spectacular start for a writer I look forward to reading for a very long time.
Kickass female protagonist. It's about time. I loved the energy in this book. I loved how tough Davis Groves was even though you could see that she had a soft spot for her sisters. After receiving a message from her mother that Davis' little sister was arrested, Davis decides to put her anger aside and go help her family. I loved the atmosphere in the book. I loved how you felt like you could see Davis struggle with wanting to help her sister yet not deal with the ghosts that her mother brought back into her life. Davis is a tough chick and I hope we are able to hear more from Neliza Drew. She has real talent.
An unflinching tale of three sisters, who grew up raising each other while they dealt with their mother’s mental illness, and the one who took it all upon herself to ensure that her siblings survived. That’s Davis Groves. Tattooed, with scars inside and out, and armed with brutal experience, an unfazeable demeanor, and a wicked sense of humor. I loved this book.
A tremendous debut by Neliza Drew! Great character development, the reader is drawn to Davis Groves who is the least likely heroine! Fast paced, great action and plenty of moments where you put down the book for a second just to say.."This is crazy!" Can't wait for the next book.