Review: Northern Spy

Northern Spy

Northern Spy
By Flynn Berry
Viking, 9780735224995, April 6, 2021, 288pp

The Short of It:

I had no idea what I was stepping into but surprisingly, this spy story was very readable and held my interest.

The Rest of It:

Tessa is the mother of young Finn. While at work in Belfast, news of a raid comes on the air. Bomb threats and security checkpoints have become the norm as the IRA makes themselves known after being underground for years. Tessa’s main concern is the safety of her young son but Belfast has been home to her, her sister Marian and her mother for as long as she can remember. She wants to be safe, but where can they go?

Then, one day, a robbery takes place and the security footage clearly shows her sister as one of the robbers. Donning a black ski mask, Marian gazes at the security cameras. Tessa is sure that her sister has been kidnapped and is being used by the IRA. What other explanation could there be? Tessa finds herself being questioned by the authorities and when her sister fails to return home, Tessa can only imagine the worst.

This was a unique story and one I was not expecting. It takes common, every day folks and puts them in extraordinary circumstances, politically. There’s some action and many dangerous moments as Tessa and her family find themselves in the middle of the fight for freedom. Her ties to her young son, not even a year old yet is what keeps her grounded but out of concern for her sister, Tessa makes some dangerous decisions and it’s those situations that she puts herself into that keep you turning the pages. I finished this book in one sitting. If you are looking for an adventurous read, this is it.

I do have a couple of criticisms though. As a reader, I absolutely wanted to know that Tessa was safe. Her commitment to her son Finn is what strings you along but I don’t feel as if I spent enough time with Marian for me to care a whole lot about her safety. Besides her being Tessa’s sister, she seemed very disposable to me. I didn’t feel her passion for the movement come through at all. You should know right off that I enjoy a good spy movie and yes, a good spy story now and then but all the politics go over my head and perhaps that is why I could not connect with Marian on the same level as I did with Tessa.

This is an interesting choice for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. I’ve read many of her picks and enjoyed many of them including this one. I can totally see this being adapted for the big screen.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

11 thoughts on “Review: Northern Spy”

  1. I’m waiting for my turn with this one in print, but I did get the audio from the publisher so I may do a combo read at some point.

    I just finished The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave (5/2021) and it really hooked me but at the end I wanted a bit bit more. I hope to do a review over the weekend.

  2. I was mildly interested in this book and now really want to read it. I’ve only read a couple books about the Ireland conflict and find it interesting. So, thank you!

  3. I’m glad you liked this one. It seems they get caught up in something that sort of snowballs. I’m curious about the author setting it in Ireland.

    1. It snowballs for sure but I think if something like this happened in real life, it’d be a lot more perilous. I enjoyed it but I think those who know more about the IRA will find that it’s not all that in-depth with details.

  4. I haven’t read a book like this for a long time, I’m thinking about getting a copy but my list is so long already so I don’t know for sure.

    1. You can wait on this one. It was good and I tend to want to read Reese’s picks when she actually picks them because she does adapt many for the big screen. I wanted to be ahead of the game should she do that .

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