June 25, 2024

Trust Her

By Flynn Berry
Review by
Set aside some time once you start reading Trust Her, because Flynn Berry’s return to the world of Northern Spy is nothing short of thrilling.
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Set aside some time once you start reading Trust Her, because after a page of what seems like an idyllic summer outing on the Irish coast, Tessa Daly is plunged into a nightmare: held hostage and forced back into a life she thought she had left behind forever. Flynn Berry fans will recognize Tessa as the heroine of Berry’s bestselling novel Northern Spy. In that book, Tessa’s sister, Marian, was an IRA member who was secretly feeding information to MI5 in hopes of fostering peace talks, and she recruited Tessa to help carry out this task. 

Berry’s crisp prose, artful plotting and short chapters make for another thrilling read. Trust Her takes place three years after Northern Spy’s explosive finale, with the sisters now living in Dublin and focusing on their young children. Narrator Tessa notes early on, “I’d stopped being scared of the IRA in the daylight. Stupid, unbelievable logic. . . . We should have seen this coming.” While the two mothers have been immersed in strep throat, croup and pickup times, Tessa notes, “The IRA haven’t gone away, after all. We’d only stopped thinking about them.” 

Why Flynn Berry wrote a surprise sequel to ‘Northern Spy.’

Now the IRA demands that Tessa reconnect with her and Marian’s MI5 handler, Eamonn, to try to turn him into an informant. Tessa wants absolutely no part of this, but nonetheless, when she sees Eamonn again, their mutual attraction resurfaces. It’s a cat-and-mouse game of the best kind, interspersing plenty of high-octane, frightening moments with Tessa’s quotidian joys, concerns and exhaustion as a single mother to 4-year-old Finn. This juxtaposition is the rocket fuel of spy dramas, and Berry tackles both the mundane and the extraordinary equally well, with perfect pacing throughout. While this is a story full of long-held secrets and startling revelations, newcomers will have no trouble coming up to speed—even if they will likely want to read the book they’ve missed.

On top of her love-hate relationship with Eamonn, Tessa harbors complicated feelings toward Marian for drawing her into this web in the first place. Trust Her is brilliantly titled, gesturing towards “the long chain reaction” of personal ties and vendettas that led to political turmoil and splintered lives for so many families. As Tessa notes, “I know, in my bones, that the conflict won’t end in my lifetime. We’re all trapped in it, caught in lockstep.” Perhaps, at least, this might mean readers will be hearing more from Tessa and Marian Daly.

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Trust Her

Trust Her

By Flynn Berry
ISBN 9780593490327

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