Dennis Lehane meets Smilla's Sense of Snow: a big discovery in the world of female suspense about an edgy young woman with the rare ability to withstand extreme conditions
Elisabeth Elo's debut novel introduces Pirio Kasparov, a Boston-bred tough-talking girl with an acerbic wit and a moral compass that points due north.
When the fishing boat Pirio is on is rammed by a freighter, she finds herself abandoned in the North Atlantic. Somehow she survives nearly four hours in the water before being rescued by the Coast Guard. But her fisherman friend Ned, the boat's owner, is not so lucky.
Compelled to look after Noah, the son of the late Ned and her alcoholic prep school friend, Thomasina, Pirio can't shake the lurking suspicion that the boat's sinking - and Ned's death - was no accident. It's a suspicion seconded by her deeply cynical, autocratic Russian father, who tells her that nothing is ever what it seems. Then the Navy reaches out to her to participate in research on human survival in dangerously cold temperatures.
With the help of a curious journalist named Russell Parnell, Pirio begins unraveling a lethal plot involving the glacial whaling grounds off Baffin Island. In a narrow inlet in the arctic tundra, Pirio confronts her ultimate challenge: to trust herself.
A gripping literary thriller, North of Boston combines the atmospheric chills of Jussi Adler-Olsen with the gritty mystery of Laura Lippman. And Pirio Kasparov is a gutsy, compellingly damaged heroine with many adventures ahead.
Being from Massachusetts, can say the author nailed the New England characters. Unfortunately, Audible's narrator read most of the frequent expletives as angry dialogue instead of as sarcasm and wit. Also, the story line goes from ok to really ridiculous so I am unlikely to recommend it.
This story started off ok but then deteriorated into something totally lacking in credibility. We all like a smart, tough heroine, enjoy seeing her outwit the stupid men who are trying to take advantage of her, but Pirio is a super woman. Aside from the absurdity of the story the performance was good but I would not buy another book from this author.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
A better plot. This book is at the same time terribly predictable and implausible. Wooden characters, too many coincidences and too many easy escapes from perilous situations. How fortuitous that Pirio finds herself stranded near the remote vacation spot where she and her now-dead mother vacationed when she was a child, and that she meets the son of her mother's long-ago lover and that he unquestioningly offers to help her catch a bunch of really bad guys. And that she can tap into her rare ability to withstand extremely cold water temperatures to outsmart those bad guys. Oh oops! Spoiler alert! The painful plodding of this book made me appreciate what talent it takes to weave a strong believable plot with believable characters.I chose this book because of a reviewer's comparison of Pirio to Smilla. Silly me!
Has North of Boston turned you off from other books in this genre?
Would you listen to another book narrated by Marguerite Gavin?
Yes. My gripes were her mispronunciation of the names of a couple of Massachusetts towns (Scituate and Falmouth) and her botched efforts at a Boston accent. Anyone not familiar with the towns' names would not have noticed the mispronunciations, and they may not be bothered by the inauthentic accent if they haven't been exposed to the real thing. But narrators should check - or be checked - for correct pronunciation of everything they're reading and should be discouraged from trying to mimic an accent if they can't pull it off. It's very distracting.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
The information about surviving submersion in very cold water was interesting.
Any additional comments?
Don't bother with this book.
I was attracted to this book due to comparisons to Smilla's Sense of Snow, and I wasn't disappointed. Great premise, interesting characters and good action/suspense, even if I had to suspend my skeptical nature for a while.
I look forward to other works by Ms. Elo--keep it coming, thanks for the entertainment.