Elisabeth Elo teaches writing in the Boston area. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Excerpt from book:
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***
Copyright © 2014 by Elisabeth Elo
He was a loser,” Thomasina says, head lolling. “But he was a good loser.” A fifth of Stolichnaya has put her in a nasty, forgiving mood. I’m tempted to take a few shots myself to medicate my grief and survivor’s guilt. But someone has to stay sober for Noah.
Thomasina paws something she sees in the air—maybe nothing, a spark of hallucination, or a particle of dust—and her tone goes flat. “I never loved him. I just wanted sperm.” She pushes the bottle half- way across the kitchen table and lays her head down on folded arms. Her shoulders heave a few times. Sorrow? Nausea? In her state it could be either, or even a hiccup of indifference. But when she picks up her face, it’s tear-stained. “But I must have loved him some, ’cause right now I feel wicked bad.”
Noah pokes his head around the corner. He doesn’t have the heavy, square look of Ned or what was formerly the haunting, big- eyed beauty of Thomasina. He’s small, thin, pale. Dark eye rings give him a monkish quality. He doesn’t talk much, doesn’t have friends. Maybe that’s why we get along.
“Noah, baby. Let mama get you something to eat.” Thomasina lurches to her feet and staggers to the refrigerator. When she opens the door, Noah and I look inside. Lime Gatorade, half a tomato, mold- speckled hamburger buns. “You want a tomato sandwich, baby?”
“No, thank you,” Noah says. He’s always been polite. He wanders back to the living room to continue whatever intricate activity he was engaged in. I’ve seen him build entire futuristic cities out of tongue depressors, popsicle sticks, and toothpicks.
Thomasina sways in a widening arc, her eyes start to roll back in her head, and her eyelids flutter and close. She slides down the refrigerator and collapses. I get one of her arms around my neck and haul her up, drag her across the scuffed linoleum to the dank bedroom at the back of the apartment. Clothes and shoes litter the floor. I recognize the lizard-skin cowboy boots she wears out at night. I let her fall across the king-size bed and push her legs onto the mattress.
The fall brings her back to consciousness. She mumbles, “You have to tell him how it happened, Pirio. He trusts you. He loves you. And you know better than anyone what to say—you were there.” She turns her face toward the closed window shade and says mournfully, “Remember, long time ago, when we were just little girls no one cared about? So we cared about each other. It was sweet, but we were so sad. Weren’t we, Pirio?”
“We were OK,” I say firmly, trying to steer her away from the rabbit hole of old pain.
“Can you believe it, Pirio? I can’t. Ned dead. Hey, it rhymes! Now Noah has no father. My baby’s half “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
"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 Inches and 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. What a terrific novel."
—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
"In North of Boston, 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
"Tough and smart, Pirio Kasparov comes alive in this fast-paced novel of unconventional plot twists and damaged relationships."
—Audrey Schulman, author of Three Weeks in December
"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."
—The Boston Globe
"North of Boston grapples with and melds seemingly disparate subject matter (commercial fishing, perfume, alcoholism, issues of class, environmental consciousness, self-determination) in an original and entertaining way . . . Judging from North of Boston, Pirio’s next puzzle promises to be nothing short of unpredictable and exciting."
“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)
“Elo’s outstanding debut stars an intelligent, confident woman of Russian descent, Pirio Kasparov . . . The brisk plot smoothly incorporates such far-flung subjects as environmental issues, the fishing industry, and the perfume business.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Gritty downtown Boston and the awe-inspiring but unforgiving North Atlantic coast come to life in Elisabeth Elo’s debut suspense novel . . . readers will . . . be rooting for the doggedly determined Pirio right to the end."
“The novel’s subplots ripple out from the opening collision, circling a story rich with wicke