Nora is taking the train to Oxfordshire, to stay at her sister Rachel’s farmhouse for the weekend. When her sister fails to show up at the station Nora sets off on foot, only to discover that something terrible has happened to her sister. Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry, tells the story of Nora’s grief and the slow uncovering of her sister’s past, as she comes to learn that we never really know the people we love.
Some years previously, as teenagers in East Yorkshire, Rachel was attacked and left for dead. Since then, she has feared that the same could happen again. Nora has to retrace her sister’s steps, and her sister’s past, to find the truth. It’s one of those stories which it would be a shame to spoil by giving away too much, so I won’t. The author’s sharp, well-observed prose leads the reader to ask, what if it were me? What would I do in that situation? It falls into the category of “domestic noir” but unlike some recent best-selling works, Nora is a reliable narrator, and the shock comes from the understanding how one act of violence can both ripple outwards and rebound. This isn’t my favourite sub-genre, but it is a skilful example and deserves to be better known.