cover image Northern Spy

Northern Spy

Flynn Berry. Viking, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2499-5

Belfast BBC political news producer Tessa Daly, the protagonist of this moving contemporary thriller from Edgar winner Berry (A Double Life), is struggling to juggle her job with caring for her six-month-old son, whose custody she shares with her ex-husband, when she sees a TV clip showing a gas station being robbed by a gun-wielding IRA trio. One of them is her younger sister, Marian, whom Tessa believed to be vacationing on the north coast. Detective Inspector Fenton and his team, who subsequently interrogate Tessa, seem convinced that she must also be IRA or, at the very least, privy to her sister’s activities. It turns out that the local authorities don’t know an awful lot about the now-fugitive Marian, whose efforts to press Tessa to assist her in her current clandestine mission puts both mother and baby at risk. The tension becomes at times almost unbearable as the plot takes increasingly sharp, sometimes improbable twists. It’s a measure of the author’s skill that she never loses sight of the humanity of her characters. Berry remains a writer to watch. Agent: Emily Forland, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Mar.)