We Were the Salt of the Sea
by Roxanne Bouchard
Translated by David Warriner
Publication Date : February 28, 2018 (UK) July 1, 2018 (US)
Pages : 300
Synopsis from Publisher:
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.
The best thing about crime fiction is the diversity within the genre. There are many different sub-genres within crime fiction - thrillers, psychological suspense, police procedurals, action, historical crime fiction, the list is endless. We Were the Salt of the Water is a stellar example of a mystery of relationships. The main character is usually seeking answers. Why did someone do this or that? How have another person’s actions impacted their life? We Were the Salt of the Sea is a complex, layered story of two people, both at a crossroads in their lives, hoping to find direction and answers that will guide their future.
In We Were the Salt of the Sea, we meet Catherine Day. Catherine has traveled from Montreal to the isolated fishing village of Gaspe’. Catherine is searching for her biological mother and also hopes to find a sense of contentment after the death of her adoptive mother. Also new to Gaspe’ from Montreal, via job transfer, is Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales. Upon his arrival he is assigned the case of Marie Garant, whose body has just been pulled out of the sea in a fisherman’s net. To the people of Gaspe’, Marie was a mystery but also a fascination and to some an obsession. The lives of Joaquin and Catherine intertwine as they both search for answers in unknown and sometimes hostile territory.
After reading We Were the Salt of the Sea, I have a new appreciation for fishermen, sailors, and people whose livelihood is dependent on the fishing industry. The people of Gaspe’ are tough and steadfast.The culture described in We Were the Salt of the Sea is unlike anything else I have read. Like any small town, everyone knows everyone and outsiders are viewed with suspicion. What seemed different about Gaspe’ was the sense of family and camaraderie. In Gaspe, the locals seem to truly care about each other and they guard each others secrets from outsiders. I found this refreshing and enjoyed reading about Joaquin and Catherine’s attempts to break the ice with the locals.
Bouchard’s writing is lyrical. The descriptions of the sea are vivid and allowed me to become completely immersed in Joaquin and Catherine’s environment. The sounds of the waves and approaching boats play out in the background of the story like a soundtrack. “My heart beats to the rhythm of the tide. And I clamber aboard. I clamber aboard, I cast away, hoist my sails and turn my back on the shore.” This is my favorite quote in the story, I could practically smell the sea and feel the cool breeze on my face.
We Were the Salt of the Sea is slower paced than other crime fiction books I have read. The death of Marie Garant takes a back seat to the complicated relationship dynamics Joaquin and Catherine face. It lacks action, but this did not make the story any less compelling. Joaquin and Catherine’s navigation through the choppy waters (pardon the pun) of Gaspe’ is filled with anxiety and tension.
Stories of failed and complicated relationships are not new to me, but to have a murder or mysterious death thrown into the mix is. I found We Were the Salt of the Sea just as thrilling as an action packed police procedural. While it lacked the action and twists found in more traditional crime fiction, the story was filled with grace and elegance. Fans of Sara Blaedel’s The Undertaker’s Daughter will love We Were the Salt of the Sea.
*Thanks to Orenda Books for my free copy of We Were the Salt of the Sea.*
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars
** FOLLOW ALONG ON THE BLOG TOUR **