North of Boston
Review: After surviving four hours in near freezing waters following a crash that cost the life of a lobster boat captain, Pirio Kasparov simply wants answers: who rammed their boat and why. But the coast guard seems to consider it an unfortunate accident, a case of maritime hit-and-run, and not a high priority. When Pirio starts asking questions on her own, it's clear someone isn't happy with her involvement, in North of Boston, a stand-alone thriller by Elisabeth Elo.
Pirio was alone on the lobster boat with Ned Rizzo, a friend who had just acquired the craft from his old employer, Ocean Catch, a major fishery in Boston. She wasn't a fisherman herself — indeed, she is the sole heir to a local perfume company — but wanted to help out. A fog had settled over the water when out of nowhere a massive ship rammed their boat, tearing it into pieces, one of which Pirio grabbed on to and managed, miraculously, to survive until rescued. Ned was not as lucky. Now, weeks later, Pirio wants closure. Was it an accident? Or did the ship intentionally target them? If so, why? Pirio's convinced that if it wasn't an accident, she wasn't the likely target, and thus begins her investigation at Ocean Catch, Ned's last employer, where she discovers that a number of unusual activities have been going on, not the least of which the Ocean Catch ship on which Ned primarily served usually returned to port with far less catch than expected and yet its crew were all paid handsomely for their service.
There is a lot to like about North of Boston. The storyline is a strong one and there are several elements that one suspects may be the key to the solution to the mystery, and yet for quite a ways into the book it isn't clear which are important and which are incidental. There is a nice mix of supporting characters, both family and friends, who provide balance and contrast to the principal lead, Pirio. She's a complex character, firmly set in her ways and yet somewhat unpredictable in what she'll say or do next. The action eventually heads, as the title suggests, north of Boston into the Arctic Circle where Pirio finally learns the truth, not only to the circumstances surrounding her own life-threatening situation, but to a family secret as well.
Probably the only significant drawback to the book is that it is written in first-person present, a mode that rarely works in genre fiction and certainly does this story no favors. It's hard to generate any level of suspense, for example, when the narrator is speaking, in "real time", from the depths of an experimental cold-water tank or while handcuffed to a table being interrogated by her captors. It's simply not credible and leads to awkward prose in scenes better served by a different narrative style.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of North of Boston for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in North of Boston: Boston, Massachusetts; Canada
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North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo
Publication Date: January 2014
List Price: $27.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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