Title: Under the Harrow
Author: Flynn Berry
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Penguin Books, June 14th 2016
Synopsis: 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 find 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.
Some books are planned. My eyes will scan my shelves patiently until my gaze settles on a spine. The words will jump out at me, tempting. I’ll feel the weight in my palm. I’ll crack the front cover open and begin to read.
This book came about differently. Snow was falling quietly in the small town of Wilmington, Vermont. Each flake floated lazily to the ground, and a few melted into my short hair. My hands were stuffed in my pockets and my boots crunched on the gravel outside a long, two-story building. The oval sign above my head read ‘Bartleby’s Books’ in a creative font. I was cold and book-less, full of the knowledge that I would be staying in a cabin without anything to read until I left the next day.
Under the Harrow left me with a strong impression for such a slim paperback. I devoured the story in two sittings and debated whether or not to give the story three or four stars. Flynn Berry writes with a unique syntax and the gripping story mimics the shortness of the prose. I immersed myself in this sparse narrative without any pre-conseeved notion of what I was in for. The story is of a murder, yes, but underneath flows a story about a woman who is slowly losing her mind. She is captured in an eerie, dark atmosphere as she tries to solve the mystery surrounding her sister’s brutal murder. We see her thought process and we speculate whether or not she is telling us the truth.
I shy away from giving Under the Harrow more stars because the ending rushed past me quicker than I would have liked. The suspense had me, and the beautiful details each stood out with brilliant clarity, but I didn’t have time for the truth to full sink in before the very last page. The atmosphere was there. It simply slipped from my grasp in the story’s final moments.
This thrilling mystery is concocted with tension and layers that peel away to reveal a shocking truth. Compelling and full of quivering suspense, I felt myself hanging on every word by my fingernails. I would definitely recommend this read to for fans of The Girl on the Train who are looking for something a little different.