North of Boston
Meet Pirio Kasparov—a Boston-bred, tough-talking girl with an acerbic wit and a moral compass that points due north.
When the lobster boat Pirio is on is rammed by a freighter and sinks within minutes, she is left to drown in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Against all odds, she manages to survive four hours before being rescued by the Coast Guard. But the boat’s owner, Ned, is not so lucky.
The tragedy leaves Pirio deeply unnerved. Compelled to look after Noah, the son of the late Ned and her alcoholic friend, Thomasina, Pirio can’t shake the lurking suspicion that the boat’s sinking was no accident. It’s a suspicion seconded by her deeply cynical Russian-immigrant father, who, haunted by a secret past, tells her that nothing is ever what it seems. As Pirio searches for answers in the seedy bar rooms and on the fishing docks of Boston, she is drawn into relationships with an unstable former boyfriend and an enigmatic insurance investigator who vie with each other to gain her trust. Then the United States Navy, hearing of her record-breaking cold water survival, pressures her to become a test subject in their research on human endurance in extreme conditions.
With her friends – including ten-year-old Noah – in increasing danger, Pirio is forced to take a high-risk gamble to expose a lethal plot. Her journey takes her from the lavish salons of a super yacht where a deadly betrayal awaits her, to a remote Inuit settlement, and finally to a narrow inlet in the Canadian arctic where she faces the ultimate challenge: to trust herself.
Rich with atmospheric chills, North of Boston is a gripping literary thriller starring an extraordinary heroine. Elisabeth Elo is a big new discovery in the world of female suspense—and Pirio Kasparov is darkly edgy, compellingly damaged, and impossible to forget.
Praise for NORTH OF BOSTON
A Booklist Best Crime Fiction Debut of the Year
Indie Next Pick
Book of the Month / Literary Guild Selection
“Elo’s outstanding debut stars an intelligent, confident woman of Russian descent, Pirio Kasparov, who survives for nearly four hours in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic before being rescued. Pirio was helping lobsterman Ned Rizzo bait traps when his boat was rammed in the fog by a freighter about 25 miles northeast of Boston Harbor. Ned, the husband of a close friend Pirio met at boarding school in Maine, is presumed drowned. Now dubbed “the swimmer” by the press, Pirio begins to believe that the collision at sea was deliberate. She teams with investigative reporter Russell Parnell, following a trail from Boston to Canada’s Baffin Bay. Pirio grew up in the shadow of her late mother, a beautiful model who died when she was 10, and inherited the cynicism of her father, who considered her a problem child. Pirio’s ability to maneuver in various strata of Boston society, learned from her parents who both rose from humble origins, comes in handy in her quest for answers. The brisk plot smoothly incorporates such far-flung subjects as environmental issues, the fishing industry and the perfume business.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred review
Pirio Kasparov is an alluring heroine. She’s sharp-witted, hell-bent on finding the truth, and her narrative voice is laced with surly sexiness. Pirio’s baldly honest, slightly melancholic reflections and Elo’s use of extreme natural settings will have strong appeal for Scandinavian crime fans. An impressive debut with surprising literary depth.”
—Booklist, Starred review
“This month, two Massachusetts writers are publishing new crime novels. But don’t look for cops, DAs, or chalk outlines in either book. Don’t expect to find private eyes with phone taps, long-focus camera lenses, and whiskey. The books, James Scott’s “The Kept” and Elisabeth Elo’s “North of Boston,” are expansive takes on crime. The prime mover in each story is a violent event resulting in death, but the path to whodunit is twisted with hidden family truths and moral reversals. The murder plots are compelling, yes, but the characters and their psychological issues are even more so.”
–Matthew Gilbert, The Globe
“Elo…could well become a major force in the thriller world.”
“The novel’s subplots ripple out from the opening collision, circling a story rich with wicked smart allusions to Russian literature and clever nods to Western culture’s most famous fishing story — ‘Moby-Dick.’ Pirio is a fascinating character and Elo a noteworthy new voice in the genre.”
–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“The author chose the thriller genre because she loves a strong protagonist who drives the action. She’s created a dandy in Pirio Kasparov.”
–Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Elo does a great job of cranking up the tension — Don’t get on the boat, Pirio! — which, when coupled with her knack for conjuring up her heroine’s often-icy surroundings, will have you cranking up the thermostat to quell the shivers.”
–Dallas Morning News
“Elo brilliantly crafts her mystery.”
–The Buffalo News
“There are gritty, hardcore mysteries and then there are gritty, witty mysteries that bring excellent humor, in-depth storytelling, and truly descriptive scenes together in a combination that makes you wish that the novel was playing out on the big screen. This particular debut is the latter; an amazing page-turner that brings Pirio Kasparov, an extremely witty girl from Boston, onto the literary scene.”
“It’s hard to say which is the bigger star of the novel: Pirio or the places she goes. Elo evokes city bars, harbor politics and ocean voyages with equal ease. As much as Pirio belongs to the streets of her city, she’s also magnetically drawn to the sea. When Pirio boards a ship headed for the Canadian Arctic, we see the rocky coast and feel the sea spray right along with her. The later scenes in the whaling grounds of Cumberland Sound will both shock and inspire readers with their blend of realism and majesty.”
“Elo’s descriptive language is equally at home in Beacon Hill society as in the rough bars of Boston Harbor. Pirio Kasparov is not only a woman with an extraordinary physiological tolerance for cold water; she’s also a character with legs. Watch for Elo’s future adventures of this plucky Boston woman who follows her instincts and heart more than her head.
“The groundwork is well-laid for future Pirio Kasparov adventures.”
Pirio Kasparov, the no-nonsense star of Elisabeth Elo’s debut novel, “North of Boston,” is a multifaceted character. Like its protagonist, “North of Boston” is many things — a murder mystery, an environmental thriller, and a domestic drama.
“An utterly riveting debut thriller! Pirio Kasparov is one of the best protagonists I’ve read in years, tough, cynical, wry and compelling. Her determination to discover the truth behind her friend’s murder will earn your admiration, while her growing desire to be a better daughter, friend, and person will win your heart.”
—Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Fear Nothing
“Elisabeth Elo has written a modern, sophisticated, and compelling thriller. Her plot is original, her details deft, and her heroine utterly remarkable.”
—Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street
“Set on the gritty Boston waterfront, Elisabeth Elo’s novel starts off as a murder mystery and slowly builds into something larger and more disturbing. North of Boston is a gripping and unorthodox thriller, packed with intriguing characters and unexpected twists.”
—Tom Perrotta, New York Times bestselling author of Nine Inchesand The Leftovers
“I wish I had a friend like Pirio Kasparov—intelligent, loyal, brave, and funny. From the opening pages of North of Boston I was enthralled and deeply committed to following Pirio wherever her brilliant author decided to send her next. Terrific!”
—Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
“As someone who has spent her life on the sea, I can tell you that Elisabeth Elo knows her stuff. Terrific fishing details, a fast-paced plot, and a heroine named Pirio Kasparov who steals the show. A great debut!”
—Linda Greenlaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Hungry Ocean and Lifesaving Lessons
“North of Boston…had me turning pages late into the night. I’ve never read anything quite like it before! Elo took several different threads — survival story, murder mystery, the perfume industry, environmental ethics, marine life protection — and wove them into a larger tale that was engaging and exciting.”
–So Obsessed With
“North of Boston…is a winner. It is so much more than a mystery. The characters are well fleshed out, the mystery and ominous ambiance are thrilling at times, the storyline is a strong one, the Arctic setting is fascinating, and the supporting cast of characters is interesting. I highly recommend North of Boston and look forward to reading the author’s future work.”
–MostlyFiction Book Reviews
“Charismatic heroine…fascinating characters…an exciting read.”
–Marilyn’s Mystery Reads