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Publisher's Summary

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK

“If you love a mystery, then you’ll devour [Northern Spy].... I loved this thrill ride of a book.” (Reese Witherspoon

“A chilling, gorgeously written tale…Berry keeps the tension almost unbearably high.” –The New York Times Book Review)

The acclaimed author of Under the Harrow and A Double Life returns with her most riveting novel to date: the story of two sisters who become entangled with the IRA

A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the news reporter requests the public's help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa's sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face. 

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced; the sisters have always opposed the violence enacted in the name of uniting Ireland. And besides, Marian is vacationing on the north coast. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.

When the truth about Marian comes to light, Tessa is faced with impossible choices that will test the limits of her ideals, the bonds of her family, her notions of right and wrong, and her identity as a sister and a mother. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she wants nothing more than to protect the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son, Finn. 

Riveting, atmospheric, and exquisitely written, Northern Spy is at once a heart-pounding story of the contemporary IRA and a moving portrait of sister- and motherhood, and of life in a deeply divided society.

©2021 Flynn Berry (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Named a Best Book of 2021 by The Washington Post and Kirkus Reviews

“A chilling, gorgeously written tale of a modern community poisoned by ancient grievances.... Berry is a beautiful writer with a sophisticated, nuanced understanding of this most complicated of places.” (The New York Times Book Review)  

“Thrillingly good.... Flynn Berry shows a le Carré-like flair for making you wonder what’s really going on at any given moment.... Berry won an Edgar for Under the Harrow in 2017. Here comes another contender.” (The Washington Post

“[A] beguiling thriller that’s hard to put down.... Even at its highest pitch, [Northern Spy] remains a human-centered story that closely examines the behavior of siblings, babies, mothers and friends.” (The Wall Street Journal

What listeners say about Northern Spy

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

“If you love a mystery....thrill ride of a book”????? Not so much

Reese, come on girl, you didn’t really read this book did you? This is definitely not a great “mystery” nor is it a “thrill ride”.
That said, I did enjoy the book after I accepted it for what it is. It’s an interesting work of fiction but does not belong in the mystery/thriller category which is what I was in the mood for when I purchased it and therefore why I’m disappointed.
If you want to read an interesting book about Ireland’s present as influenced by its past, about family relations and about how easy it is to see things as black and white until you truly open your mind to a different point of view (all of which are very well written about in this book) then by all means buy the book and you won’t be disappointed. But if you read the hype on the description page about this being a great mystery, and that’s what you’re in the market for, then move along. Better choices abound.
Oh, and after reading other reviews, I didn’t mind the narrator. I’ve no strong feelings either way regarding narration.

20 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Narrator Ruined the Book

I know I would have enjoyed this book so much more if the narrator didn’t have such a horrible fake Irish accent .

13 people found this helpful

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Whoever approved the narrator is tone deaf

The story is poor anyway (what was Reese thinking) but the accent just made it worse. I could not continue reading due to the awful attemp at an Irish accent by the narrator. She falls in & out of what sounds like a Geordie accent & a very bad Irish accent. Whoever approved this narrator must be tone deaf!
Don't waste your credits!

12 people found this helpful

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The narrators attempt at a Belfast accent is unbearable

I am from Northern Ireland and was really looking forward to this book. But why would they hire an English actress to attempt a Belfast accent?!

It’s unbelievably distracting and ruined the entire experience. I couldn’t finish the book. Think Brqd Pitt in Devils Own talking exclusively for 8 hours :(

12 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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No Irish narrators available?

I’m really struggling to finish this book, the narrator’s accent keeps slipping from very fake Northern Irish, to what I suspect is her own northern English accent. The questioning lilt to every sentence is also irritating. Couldn’t they find anybody with a genuine accent to read it? The story could be gripping if it were not for the constant aural distraction.

11 people found this helpful

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A work of fiction but hard to get by the pro British slant

Couldn’t get past the pro British rhetoric. Really targeting primary schools?? Shooting you shopping malls? Never happened. I often find it interesting how difficult it is for the average American to reconcile our own fight for the independence against the British with that of other countries. Today George Washington would be portrayed as a terrorist leader killing innocent British soldiers just trying to keep the peace.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, terrible audiobook performance

A wonderful and vividly written story that I almost didn't finish due to the terrible performance by the audiobook narrator/actor. The flat acting and inaccurate accent really took for my enjoyment of the book. I would have thought that researching the pronunciation of characters names and place names would be the bare minimum for an audiobook actor! Such a shame to spoil an otherwise great book!

6 people found this helpful

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The Accent Troubles

I’m wondering why they couldn’t have found an Irish reader, this reader kept flipping back and forth between accents. A good story, but almost ruined by the narrator.

4 people found this helpful

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  • RL
  • 04-12-21

A Book to Be Heard

Some books are best read in print. Others are best brought to life as audiobooks. The latter is true of Northern Spy. Hearing the story told in Katharine McEwan’s lovely Irish accent made me feel as if Tessa was in my living room telling me the story herself. Had I read the book, I may have considered it a four star book rather than a five. It will make for a good book club discussion.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved this book!

Absolutely beautiful story and narration! Loved how she described her bond with her baby. The story seemed like poetry and gave me such vivid imagery of my relationship with my own children. Wonderful story.

2 people found this helpful