Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for We Were the Salt of the Sea, I’m delighted to be sharing my review with you today.
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 Morales, 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 Morales reach straight for a large whisky…
Both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a stunning, page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
We Were the Salt of the Sea is a unique novel in the world of crime fiction; a quiet yet powerful tale. I have to quote from the blurb because this novel is indeed “a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea” – once you get into the rhythm of this novel, it’s like waves gentle lapping, even though you’re reading a crime novel, it’s soothing. As you hear from the characters, a picture, albeit nowhere near complete, of Marie Garant starts to take shape, and the plot has this beautiful yet tragic feel to it. There is indeed a mystery at play here, but there’s so much more too; themes of love, loss, memories and secrets.
There was some great characterisation in this novel, characters you warm to, and some not so much. I loved that some of the characters had a distinct way of speaking, this continuity throughout the novel really brought them to life and made them easily identifiable. What happens at sea stays at sea; these characters had secrets of their own, and they weren’t willing to easily offer them up to Detective Morales. What shined brightest of all, though, was their love of the sea, and there were some great quotes throughout of characters expressing their love for the waters. But the sea giveth and the sea taketh away:
“The dues we must pay to the sea.”
This novel is narrated in third person but switched to first person for Catherine’s narrative and I thought that was extremely fitting, not just because she has newly arrived in the town but because her loss is different. She’s trying to get to know who her birth mother was, she has no memories to fall back on, and has to find a way to move forward from a past she doesn’t know.
As for the mystery itself, it’s slowly unravelled; Detective Morales has to ask the right questions to get the answers he seeks. And we get a bit of backstory on him too, but I must admit, I didn’t find him likeable or his personal life all that interesting.
We Were the Salt of the Sea is an extremely atmospheric read, slow-paced and immersive; you can visualise being there, watching the events first-hand and listening in on the conversations – now that’s a powerfully written novel!
Lastly, and importantly, thank you to David Warriner for providing the translation that allowed me to read this novel – it truly felt like nothing was lost in translation.
*My thanks to Orenda Book & Anne Cater (A Random Things Tour) for providing me with a copy of this book and inviting me to participate in the blog tour*
About the Author:
Ten years or so ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. We Were the Salt of the Sea is her fifth novel, and her first to be translated into English. She lives in Quebec.
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