Truth lingers in murky waters…
As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation.
On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Moralès reach straight for a large whisky…
One of the things that I love about Orentober, is not only sharing the book love but also being able to go back in time to read Orenda Books delights that I haven’t yet go around to. An example of this is Roxanne Bouchard’s We Were The Salt Of The Sea, translated from French by David Warriner and originally published by Orenda Books in 2018. I bought this beautifully atmospheric novel last year after reading Meggy’s review, that I have linked in here. That’s the magic of Orentober, book talk, recommendations and finding new authors! We Were The Salt Of The Sea is available to purchase in both paperback and ebook here.
“Cyrille said the sea was like a patchwork quilt. Fragments of waves joined together by strands of sunlight. He said the sea would swallow the stories of the world and digest them at its leisure in its cobalt belly before regurgitating only distorted reflections. He said the events of the last few weeks would sink into the darkness of memory.”
That is the first paragraph of the second chapter of We Were The Salt Of The Sea, it’s lyrical beauty sets the bar for the rest of the book where the atmosphere and setting of the Canadian fishing village is described, as well as the raw emotive language that builds up the characters – individuals of the tight knit community, as well as newcomer DS Moralés who has moved to Gaspé Peninsula for his career. Roxanne’s description of the books location is vivid in context and had me longing to listen to the lapping waves, to smell the mixture of that days catch and salt in the air, with cobbled stones and fishermen shouting along where the sea meets land. I was drawn right to Gaspé Peninsula , watching closely as a death is unveiled, one that Moralés must investigate immediately after moving into his new home. In my initial notes, I compared this slice of French crime fiction to the British mystery series Broadchurch but with more heart and many more layers of story laced through it, yet still holding a dark prose with a stunningly poetic allure.
We Were The Salt Of The Sea is the first novel in the DS Moralés series, therefore we meet our protagonist Joaquin Moralés, who himself appears wounded and mysterious, he enchanted me from the offset with his passionate drive to get to the bottom of recent events, but also we find that he’s struggling with not only himself but also the marriage to his wife Sarah. I mentioned earlier that this novel has many layers of storyline, subtly and stunningly incorporated into it. For me, I found that love was at the core of We Were The Salt Of The Sea, not only for the sea but also the love for ourselves, the selfish kind. It’s an all around beautiful, moving book that will not only entrap you in an investigation, but it’ll also tug you further into the depths of the storyline by your heartstrings.
Roxanne has truly written something that is so special, translated superbly by David, they have both created an absorbing tale about a quiet fishing village that unfolds at the perfect pace, one that will leave you breathless and completely in awe. There were so many parts of this book that I wanted to quote in this review but i’d end up quoting every single line because it is all just one huge example of literary euphony.
As you’ve guessed, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Gaspé Peninsula, although I knew I would – I also read the second in series before this one, yes, I know that I am a strange one, but you’ll love it! Have you read it already? What did you think? We would love to read your thoughts, remember to use the hashtag #Orentober on Twitter so we don’t miss it!
Tune in tomorrow for my review of the second book, The Coral Bride!