Meet Pirio Kasparov—a Boston-bred, tough-talking girl with an acerbic wit and a moral compass that points due north.

When the lobster boat Pirio is on is rammed by a freighter and sinks within minutes, she is left to drown in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Against all odds, she manages to survive four hours before being rescued by the Coast Guard. But the boat’s owner, Ned, is not so lucky.

The tragedy leaves Pirio deeply unnerved.  Compelled to look after Noah, the son of the late Ned and her alcoholic friend, Thomasina, Pirio can’t shake the lurking suspicion that the boat’s sinking was no accident. It’s a suspicion seconded by her deeply cynical Russian-immigrant father, who, haunted by a secret past, tells her that nothing is ever what it seems. As Pirio searches for answers in the seedy bar rooms and on the fishing docks of Boston, she is drawn into relationships with an unstable former boyfriend and an enigmatic insurance investigator who vie with each other to gain her trust. Then the United States Navy, hearing of her record-breaking cold water survival, pressures her to become a test subject in their research on human endurance in extreme conditions.

With her friends – including ten-year-old Noah – in increasing danger, Pirio is forced to take a high-risk gamble to expose a lethal plot. Her  journey takes her from the lavish salons of a super yacht where a deadly betrayal awaits her, to a remote Inuit settlement, and finally to a narrow inlet in the Canadian arctic where she faces the ultimate challenge: to trust herself.


“Elo’s outstanding debut stars an intelligent, confident woman of Russian descent, Pirio Kasparov, who survives for nearly four hours in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic before being rescued. Pirio was helping lobsterman Ned Rizzo bait traps when his boat was rammed in the fog by a freighter about 25 miles northeast of Boston Harbor. Ned, the husband of a close friend Pirio met at boarding school in Maine, is presumed drowned.  Now dubbed “the swimmer” by the press, Pirio begins to believe that the collision at sea was deliberate.  She teams with investigative reporter Russell Parnell, following a trail from Boston to Canada’s Baffin Bay.  Pirio grew up in the shadow of her late mother, a beautiful model who died when she was 10, and inherited the cynicism of her father, who considered her a problem child.  Pirio’s ability to maneuver in various strata of Boston society, learned from her parents who both rose from humble origins, comes in handy in her quest for answers.  The brisk plot smoothly incorporates such far-flung subjects as environmental issues, the fishing industry and the perfume business.”

Publishers Weekly,  Starred review

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