Nora and Rachel had planned to spend the weekend together. Nora would take the train from London, meeting Rachel either at the station or at Rachel's home. Dinner was planned, though Nora couldn't remember exactly what Rachel said she'd cook, and they'd go over potential rentals in Cornwall for the trip they were going to take. At least, that's how it was supposed to happen.
But when Nora arrives at Rachel's house, she immediately knows something is wrong. Her fears are soon realized when she finds both Rachel and her dog have been murdered. The police have no leads, no suspects, just the discovery of a hide out with empty bottles and cigarettes behind Rachel's home and the knowledge that Rachel had been attacked once before. When Nora finds out Rachel had been trying to find her attacker, she picks up the investigation herself, convinced the two are connected and obsessed with finding Rachel's killer.
Under the Harrow is a debut that packs a real punch. Flynn Berry's style is just that, punchy, with short chapters and somewhat sparse prose. And yet there's a depth to the story that's almost unexpected considering the style and the fact that the book weighs in at just over 200 pages.
Those short chapters drive the pace, launching the reader through the story as Nora digs into friend's, neighbor's, and stranger's lives, while also considering the events of fifteen years ago that she believes could have led to her sister's death.
Nora and Rachel shine as strong and determined characters. Rachel is a nurse with a temper, one who kept secrets even her sister didn't suspect. Nora is, especially in the wake of Rachel's murder, both cautious and reckless. She fears almost everyone she meets is a suspect, but throws herself into investigating nonetheless.
It's interesting that in a recent LitHub.com piece Berry admits to having scared herself while researching and writing the book. As unfortunate as that is, and any woman knows that fear to some extent, I think it likely added to the overall feel of Under the Harrow. I'd imagine it's impossible to keep that kind of emotion bottled up and not have it affect your writing! Either way, Berry has created a book that definitely weighs on you, leaving its mark and niggling at the corners of your brain long after reading. It's also, read in the safety of your home, an excellent and tense thriller of the highest caliber!
Thanks to the publisher, I am able to offer up a copy for one of you lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, July 4. US only and no PO boxes please.
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