North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo is an intriguing thriller told from a woman’s point-of-view. There’s a lot to like about this book, and I enjoyed it overall. The exposition is paced so that we, the reader, learn about the protagonist and her background slowly, and I hesitate to get into the details here. The descriptions are top-notch, with the narrator Pirio Kasporov describing what she sees, hears, and smells at each turn. Pirio is a survivor, a point established early in the story and reinforced throughout. She has a complex and full backstory as a child of immigrants, a child who lost a parent at age ten, and a devoted friend. Every piece of information we learn plays into the conclusion. The story is well-formed and tight. The book is primarily a thriller as Pirio sets out to solve a mystery set in the commercial fishery industry and the docks of Boston. The story is also a hero’s journey as Pirio retrieves a lost relic and discovers truths about her life and loves.
The downside is very vivid descriptions of violence towards animals as she butts heads with a cadre of rich men and their – she uses this word repetitively – bimbos. The first is necessary to the plot, the second isn’t. Both made me cringe. Overall it’s a great library book, but not one I’ll look for to add to my library to re-read or hand off to others to read later.
Elo has crafted an intriguing and richly layered story, and I will look for more of her works.