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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Debut Psychological Thriller Odd But Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Nora Lawrence hops on a train from London to Oxfordshire, she's expecting to spend a peaceful weekend in the country with her older sister.  She's shocked to her core when she finds Rachel stabbed to death in her home, her murdered dog nearby.  A nurse practitioner who kept to herself, 31-year-old Rachel was hardly the type to attract enemies.  Who could have committed such a brutal act against the woman and her canine companion?

As the police flounder around looking for suspects, Nora inserts herself into the investigation.  While managing to offend nearly everyone in town, she comes to realize how little she really knew about her sister's life in this far-flung hamlet.  Still, she wonders if Rachel's murder had anything to do with an unsolved assault Rachel suffered as a teen.  Did her attacker come back to finish the job?  Or did the killer have a more current motive?  Nora's determined to find out, even if it means putting her own neck on the line.

Under the Harrow, a psychological thriller by debut author Flynn Berry, has earned the expected comparisons to books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.  And it is similar—in some ways.  It's moody, atmospheric, and depressing.  It's also just ... odd.  With a sluggish plot and characters who just aren't that likable (both Nora and Rachel come off as cold, unfeeling, and weird), Under the Harrow is not exactly a page turner.  It's compelling enough, though, that I wanted to know whodunit.  I also found myself surprised by the murderer, so there's that.  In the end, though, Under the Harrow was just an okay read for me. 

(Readalikes:  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; and similar psychological thrillers)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain



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