North of Boston, Elisabeth Elo
Blackstone Audio - 2014
Read By - Marguerite Gavin - very good
In this debut mystery/thriller, a reader would hardly expect perfume industry and the fishing industry to surface in the same novel, but it does and it works fairly well.
Pirio Kasparov is an interesting protagonist who has been through a lot in her first 30 years of life. Her Russian father created a perfume empire of sorts, her beautiful mother, a model, dies when Pirio was just 10, and her father ships her off to one of the best boarding schools money can buy. Her strict and highly cynical Russian father follows the urging of his new wife that this was the best thing for his young daughter. As an adult and now CEO of her father's perfume empire, Pirio can expect to inherit a fortune someday, however, she comes across as very down to earth.
Early on we learn that Pirio was helping lobster man, Ned Rizzo on his fishing boat when his boat was rammed in the fog by a freighter near Boston Harbor. A freighter that appeared out of nowhere. Pirio manages to survive the frigid water for hours, at temperatures where most people would have died of hypothermia, but Ned is presumed drowned. He leaves a 10 year old son Noah, (Pirio's godson) and his alcoholic wife Thomasina is a troubled woman who Pirio had met at boarding school -- she was also sent away so that her wealthy parents would not have to deal with her.
At first Pirio thinks the boat incident was an accident, but then she's not so sure believing something bigger and more sinister may have been at play. The more that is uncovered, the more it appears she is right. Who is involved and why was Ned's boat targeted is at the heart of the mystery.
I liked this debut mystery, but had a few issues with it as well. The writing is very good, great character development, and a variety of interesting issues are covered -- international crime, environmental issues, even touchier subjects like alcoholism, and parental neglect. Overall, I found the story too slow paced for me. It really took a while to get going and even when it did, I thought it slowed again at times. The audio version was read by Marguerite Gavin who did a very good job overall. Not perfect, but I do think that the author has positioned herself well for with this debut for a continued series. I would be interested to see what becomes of Pirio.