Book Review: 'North of Boston'

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Elizabeth Elo. Pamela Dorman Books, 388 pp. $27.95

Pirio Kasparov has cheated death. The lobster boat she worked on with her friend, Ned, sank after an accident in open water, and Ned's last action saved her life but cost him his. In her survival, she helps care for Ned's son, Noah, and Noah's alcoholic mother.

But Pirio is led to believe that what happened to her and Ned was not an accident. Someone intentionally sank the ship, and is covering it up from the suspicious eye.

The coastal nature of Elizabeth Elo's "North of Boston" is comforting, especially on the cold days we've been happening. It's easy to curl up in a warm place with this book. Pirio's relationship with her family, and with Ned's remaining family, offers personal tension that complements the mystery associated with Pirio and the fateful incident.

What I was missing was the internal tension Pirio would have experienced being the only survivor. She held onto life -- and onto a piece of drifting wood -- for four hours in frigid water. She survived when she shouldn't have, in more ways than one that day. And Ned, her partner on the sea, wasn't so lucky. Elo eludes to her struggle she would have gone through, but perhaps not as deeply as I would have liked.

Despite the missing element, "North of Boston" is captivating and intriguing, a successful standalone thriller with compelling characters and a story as appropriate in a New England fog as in a Midwestern winter.

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