Thursday, 28 July 2016

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

Under the Harrow
By Flynn Berry
Published by W&N (E-book - 14 June 2016)

Publisher's description
When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel's familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can't return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can't trust them to find her sister's killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora's fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

My verdict
Under the Harrow is a highly atmospheric psychological thriller.

When Nora discovers her sister has been brutally murdered, she becomes overwhelmed with grief and distress. She doesn't trust the police, after she was assaulted as a teenager and her attacker was never found. And she can't stop thinking about her sister's death and all of the possible suspects. Could her sister's murder be related to her own traumatic experience 15 years earlier? As Nora's own investigations become an obsession, could they be leading her into danger?

Beginning just before Nora discovers her sister's body, the book filled with emotion and intrigue. Nora is a completely unreliable narrator - traumatised, paranoid and grieving, with hazy memories of her own past. She seems soulless, as if her attacker robbed her of her personality and individuality, turning her into just an empty husk.

Under the Harrow is more than just a murder mystery, as it explores the complex relationship between two sisters and the secrets they shared and withheld. Both sisters had moved away from their home town and moved on with their lives, although they still kept in touch. The author gets right into Nora's head - her thoughts, feelings and emotions. But since you only get to know Nora's version of events, and her behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and irrational, it seems that she may not be remembering the whole truth.

The book kept me guessing all the way through. I had a whole list of suspects in my head, Nora being one of them. Was she involved? I'm not going to give away any spoilers here, so you'll just have to read the book to find out.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Click here to read Flynn Berry talking about Rebecca, one of her favourite unreliable narrators.

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