Image of Under the Harrow: A Novel


Image of Under the Harrow: A Novel

At the troubled heart of Berry’s neo-noire is the loving but corrupt relationship between two whip-smart sisters. The twists in the relationship between two difficult women drive the twists in the plot. Homages to dark classics are frequent, well-selected and tenderly executed. The moody, monochrome, cinematic feel is punctuated by fleeting acts of passion. Berry’s cool voice and the world it invokes are the stuff of classic crime fiction, but this is deeper than a caper — it is the story of a woman working through her stages of grief.

When a bored young landscape assistant attempts to visit her beloved sister in a country town, she finds a bloodbath instead and determines to stay in town to find the killer. The investigation creeps closer to the truth, not only of her sister’s murder, but also of an attack from their teenage years the two had been trying to solve for most of their lives. Solving two mysteries at once while being hampered by the police, the protagonist, armed with only a small razor blade and a smaller credit limit, uncovers secrets about her sister dark enough to alter their relationship post-mortem. No one is innocent, but some are guiltier than others, and revenge and justice intertwine. (PENGUIN, Jun., 240 pp., $16.00)
Reviewed by: 
Marian Lorraine