THE NORTH LINE by Matt Riordan, FI
THE NORTH LINE by Matt Riordan, FI
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The Big Thrill Discusses THE NORTH LINE with Matt Riordan

Book Cover: THE NORTH LINEEven at the ragged edge of civilization, some lines should not be crossed.

Everyone believes Adam to be something he’s not. Sometimes that’s because he’s told them a story. Sometimes he’s told himself one. But when Adam joins an Alaskan fishing crew that’s promising quick money, the dangerous work and harsh lifestyle strip away all fabrications and force a dark-hearted exploration of who he really is.

On the unforgiving Bering Sea, Adam finds the adventure and authenticity of a fisherman’s life revelatory. The labor required to seize bounty from the ocean invigorates him, and the often crude comradery accompanies a welcome, hard-earned wisdom. But when a strike threatens the entire season and violence stalks the waves, Adam is thrust into a struggle for survival at the edge of the world, where evolutionary and social forces collide for outcomes beyond anyone’s control.

Matt Riordan recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his debut adventure thriller, THE NORTH LINE.

Author Photo: Matt Riordan

Matt Riordan

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

I met a lot of characters working on boats, good, bad, and indifferent, but one was a truly evil man. I remember standing on deck after he had done something particularly diabolical, wondering how he became that way. I’d like to think this novel is that story – the story of how an average American kid becomes a monster.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

I sat on the idea for this novel for more than twenty years. It was always going to be my first.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

I read a lot, lot of Elmore Leonard and Denis Johnson, with occasional jags of Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy.

For years I wrote while listening to ABC – anything but country. Then I started listening to country too, but only the dead ones.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

I wanted to write about the friends I made in the resource extraction economy of Alaska in the early 90’s. My protagonist is a young man on the knife edge between soul crushing office park respectability and permanent drugged-out fringe status. I am familiar with that piece of cultural real estate and comfortable writing about it.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I’d like to think that my story makes the case that all men have the potential to become monsters.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

I have a couple of projects in the works. One is set among a family of rum runners in Michigan during prohibition, and the other is a noir legal thriller set in New York City.


Matt Riordan grew up in Michigan but spent his early twenties working on commercial fishing boats in Alaska. After college, Matt drifted from commercial fishing through a variety of jobs before landing in law school. He then became a litigator in New York City, where he practiced for twenty years. He now lives with his family in Australia.

To learn more about the author, please visit his website.