Author: Eric Eyre
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: A great work of investigative journalism that benefited from the author’s depth of local knowledge.
So far, the two books I’d heard the least about have been the best books I’ve read on the opioid crisis. In Pain, a memoir by a bioethicist who was addicted to opioids, included both personal experience and some of the most thoughtful analysis I’ve read. This book, Death in Mudlick, is by a reporter who received a Pulitzer Prize for his role reporting on opioid distributor sales data in West Virginia. It really delivered everything I want in narrative nonfiction.
I think the main reason I enjoyed this book more than other popular takes on the topic is that we joined the author in discovering what opioid manufacturers and distributors were up to. We also learned in real time with him about connections between state officials and the distributors. Although I didn’t feel that the people who caused the opioid crisis had really been brought to justice by the end, even the revelation of what they were up to felt like a victory.
The author also brought a real depth of knowledge about place and local politics to his reporting. Other books I’ve read have felt well reported, but they simply lack the depth of knowledge and personal concern that come from living in a place for years. I both felt more invested in this story and more like there was a satisfactory payoff in terms of the good guys accomplishing something. I realize that isn’t something that nonfiction can always deliver, but I certainly enjoy a story where it does!