Tag Archives: Flynn Berry

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
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