“Lost River” is the story of life in Angel, Kentucky, a place where almost everyone is tied together by blood, marriage, or bad luck. Angel is a city with vacant shops and deserted streets heavy with shadows. Rural Kentucky moved beyond moonshining a long time ago, and replaced that with a more systemic problem, one that transcends poverty, social status, and financial assets — pervasive drug use.
Scott tells the story from the point of view of various participants. Readers observe how they see the world, and how they continuously struggle with substance abuse on every level. The characters are complex and troubled, weighed down by a hundred invisible anchors, seeking lifelines they are never going to take. The vocabulary, syntax, and cadence reflect the poverty and isolation of their way of life, simple yet complex, traditional yet mired in modern events.
There is a bad batch of heroin spreading around the county and people are dropping like flies. A tiny dancing skeleton and letters DOA are stamped on the bags as a warning, the sort of secret that everyone knows. Every person is in danger; even the loose powder in the air is deadly to police and other first responders. The situation is complex with competing, even conflicting interests, the DEA, the County Sheriff’s Office, the Kentucky State Police, and The FBI, because someone always calls the FBI.
Angel’s lost souls are the real story, those for whom nothing will ever be enough, for whom there will never be a right time. Scott crafted a compelling and gut-wrenching story drawn from events and issues surrounding the very real opioid crisis. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT people die every day from an opioid overdose. I received a review copy of “Lost River” from J. Todd Scott, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Penguin Publishing Group. It is starkly realistic, gripping, and disturbing.