Double Life
by Berry, Flynn

A London doctor's carefully calibrated existence is upended by the discovery of the father who has been on the run for decades hiding from a murder charge. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Under the Harrow.

Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and the recipient of a Yaddo fellowship. Her first novel, Under the Harrow, won the 2017 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and The Atlantic.

Berry's debut, Under the Harrow (2016), won an Edgar for Best First Novel and garnered multiple "best books" listings, making it a hard act to follow. Critics praised Berry's striking, original voice and Hitchcockian twists, both in evidence again here, along with the themes of obsession and memory. The major difference between the two books is that rather than an abrupt and surprising ending, A Double Life features a somewhat protracted and shocking conclusion that will have nail-biters gnawing down to their nubs. Claire is a dedicated doctor living an insular life in London under an assumed name because she is the daughter of a notorious murder suspect. Nearly 30 years earlier, while Claire and her brother slept, their father was assumed to have killed their nanny and brutally assaulted their mother, then disappeared without a trace. She believes that his powerful and privileged friends are protecting him and goes to extraordinary lengths to ingratiate herself with them, recklessly blackmailing them for his current location. Bound to please Berry's fans as well as followers of domestic-noir masters of the be-careful-what-you-wish-for tale, including Hallie Ephron, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Berry's (Under the Harrow, 2016) second thriller explores the effects of a brutal crime on the family of the alleged perpetrator nearly 30 years later. Claire's father, Lord Spenser, notorious for being one of the highest-ranking members of British society to be accused of murder, disappeared 26 years ago, after Claire's mother and nanny were both attacked. The police contact her when there is a sighting or a lead, but so far, these have all turned out to be false. Driven by her need for closure and her concern for her opium-addicted brother, Claire befriends the daughter of her father's best friend under false pretenses so she can be invited to the family estate and conduct her own investigation. Claire's first-person narrative alternates with a third-person account of her parents' early courtship and marriage and Claire's own childhood memories leading up to the murder. Berry is an expert at slow pacing, letting the characters' tension gradually build to a boiling point, bu t that's also a drawback. The mystery, and the characters, seems to lack true passion. By the time the climax comes around, the level of action and violence contradicts the tone of the rest of the novel. She does have a talent for setting, and the emphasis on the insulation of the arrogant, if declining, aristocracy resonates as a larger commentary on British society. The most fascinating side of the novel, implied but not openly developed, is that Claire's obsession with her father leads her to make some pretty shady choices of her own, and she strongly believes that the end justifies the means. She's not quite an unreliable narrator, but those patches of darkness in her character do add an extra layer that could have been explored more deeply. A competent psychological mystery that lacks greater human resonance. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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