North of Boston is Elisabeth Elo’s debut novel, and to me it is a real winner. It certainly held my interest and I found that, at times, I was unable to put this books down.
Pirio Kasparov, heir to a very successful perfume business which her Russian immigrant parents founded, is our protagonist. She is a gritty, smart and complex woman. When Pirio’s mother died, the girl was just 10 years old. Her deceased mother’s will stipulates that when Pirio turns 21 years old, she will inherit her mother’s share of the extremely successful business, Inessa Mark, Inc. and that if she wants full ownership, the company would revert to her upon her eccentric father’s death. Pirio has joined the company where she works as “CEO in training.” Scent permeates much of the novel – the scent of perfume, ambergris, herbs, flowers, etc. And the smells of the sea also play an important part in the author’s descriptive passages.
The eponymous title of this penetrating and artful novel refers to third-grade schoolteacher and unfulfilled artist Nora Eldridge, who has lived in the Boston area her whole life. It is also the book’s principal motif, surfacing periodically to describe Nora’s various attributes as an uncharacteristically plain woman, a woman who doesn’t rock any boats or shine like a supernova– one who is always nice, mannerly, and unthreatening to others. Essentially, anonymous and invisible. Nora has previously accepted this about herself, living up to the part with emblematic virtuosity.
In 1998, private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro were hired to find a missing four-year-old girl named Amanda McCready. Even though she was raised by an unfit mother, Amanda has miraculously grown into a self-possessed, mature, and highly intelligent sixteen-year-old. However, suddenly Amanda disappears, and her Aunt Beatrice begs Patrick to find her again. He does not jump at the offer, partly because he has enough on his plate. Patrick and Angie, who are married and the doting parents of a precocious little girl, are deeply in debt. Angie isn’t working and Patrick desperately needs full-time employment with health benefits. However, the one position he has a chance of landing is with a company whose executives value the bottom line above morality; Patrick has done jobs for them that left him feeling tarnished.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Maura Isles angers the members of the Boston Police Department when she testifies against Officer Wayne Graff. Dr. Isles maintains that Graff’s savage beating of alleged cop killer Fabian Dixon led to the suspect’s death. Although Maura knows that she will be ostracized because of her testimony, she tells the truth as she sees it: “I only concern myself with the facts…wherever they may lead,” she says. Her attitude irritates her good friend, Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli, who can understand why Graff “lost it.”
You could classify THE DANTE CLUB loosely as historical fiction. Or perhaps, try historical-fantasy-fiction-literary-murder-mystery. Itâ€™s definitely a work to be enjoyed by “literary types,” but also by thrill-seekers, detective buffs, psychological and social analysts and in fact anyone who enjoys a good read.
June 30, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· One Comment
Tags: 19th-Century, Boston, Dante, Real People Fiction, Story Retold, Time Period Fiction Â· Posted in: Facing History, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, NE & New York
Daniel Palmer’s DELIRIOUS is a nightmarish tale in which Charlie Giles, “an electronics superstar,” suddenly loses his job, his reputation, and quite possibly, his mind.
June 25, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Boston, Mental Health/Illness, Music, Psychological, Techno-Thriller Â· Posted in: Debut Novel, Macavity Award, NE & New York, Psychological Suspense, Thriller/Spy/Caper