Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Whisper of the Seals! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that Whisper of the Seals is another fantastic addition to a series I love first and foremost for its atmosphere, its setting and the fact that the ocean feels like a character in its own right. With Roxanne Bouchard’s and David Warriner’s beautiful prose, simple yet powerful, and a boatload of suspense in the final chapters, it was an absolute winner for me.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
The icy depths of January in Quebec’s remote Magdalen Islands set the stage for Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès’s third investigation.
Fisheries officer Simone Lord is transferred to Quebec’s remote Magdalen Islands for the winter, and at the last minute ordered to go aboard a trawler braving a winter storm for the traditional grey seal hunt, while all of the other boats shelter onshore.
Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès is on a cross-country boat trip down the St Lawrence River, accompanied by Nadine Lauzon, a forensic psychologist working on the case of a savagely beaten teenager with Moralès’ old team in Montreal. When it becomes clear that Simone is in grave danger aboard the trawler, the two cases converge, with startling, terrifying consequences for everyone involved…
The award-winning author of The Coral Bride returns with an eye-opening, atmospheric, race-against-the-clock thriller set on the icy seas in the midst of a brutal seal hunt, where nothing is as it seems and absolutely no one can be trusted…
Right! Shall we go see what Moralès is up to then? Here we go!
There are some, rare, mornings, when a man takes off a ring and it’s thirty-two years of his life that he puts down on the polished wood surface of the kitchen table.
Four months earlier, Joaquin Moralès had reached into Gaspé Bay and pulled out the body of a fisherwoman in her wedding dress who had spent three days in the water. Her frock had been tainted, her eyes fallen prey to sea fleas, her face maimed by crabs and autumn-spawning fish. He had crouched down beside the woman and called her by her name, as if she could not only answer his questions about the investigation, but also speak to his woeful wondering about love. When he had closed the case file, he had understood that it was the end of his own marriage he had seen in the gruesome effigy of the young bride’s body. Once he was back home in Caplan, he had gone to knock on Chiasson the notary’s door.
The wise legal man had expressed some reservations about the necessity of divorce.
‘Thirty-two years of married life don’t come to an easy end. Think this through. I’ve seen plenty of people cry in that armchair.’
A box of tissues on the corner of the desk and a wastebasket on the floor lent a semblance of truth to these words. But Joaquin knew from experience that the dead were beyond resuscitating. He had driven out here, to the Gaspé Peninsula, at the beginning of the summer, his car loaded to the roof with the kinds of objects that tell the story of a couple’s life fulfilled, and he had patiently waited for his wife to come and join him here. But she had tarried. Distance had made old misunderstandings resurface, things neither of them had worked through, and with the weight of the years, the scales of resentment had suddenly tipped the wrong way. Sulking had sullied the sheets of their marital bed, so the notary had resigned himself, and retrieved the form used to file for divorce. Joaquin and Sarah had signed the end of their love story separately and in silence. They had penned its prologue together long ago, in front of an altar.
The previous day, Joaquin had collected the documents that confirmed the end of his life as a married man. Chiasson the notary had shaken his greying head, supported as it was by three dignified and well-meaning chins, and impressed upon his client the triviality of all those official stamps, the true burden of which was now his, and his alone, to bear.
‘You’ll see, signing those papers isn’t the hardest thing.’
Feeling the weight of that fateful foresight, Moralès had taken the envelope and carried it home. He had not slept well.
Fortunately, today he was going away on a skiing trip. As if he were making a getaway. His luggage was waiting at the door. When he came downstairs in the morning, he liked to be ready.
‘You’re travelling light.’
His eldest son was at the kitchen counter, getting himself a bowl of cereal.
‘It’s not supposed to be a fashion parade.’
They had been living together since Sébastien had rolled up at his door a few months earlier, the worse for drink. Like a man who’d lost it all. Now he had a job at the microbrewery in L’Anse-à-Beaufils and was talking about moving to Percé at the end of the following week. They got on well, but Moralès seniorwas still keen to see the last of his son’s dirty socks in the house.
He was past the age of kids living at home.
‘What time’s your flight?’
‘Half past twelve.’
Joaquin went over to the patio door and looked out at the bay. It was so cold, everything was immobile. The ice had encroached on his little patch of beach a while back, and the tide, seemingly on the ebb, was elevating the bluish slabs and their spiky peaks. The sky was transparent.
‘Are those your divorce papers?’
Seated at the table, his son half opened the envelope Joaquin had abandoned there. It had too much weight to it for him to feel able to put it anywhere else. Where were you supposed to file a document like that? What sort of folder is made to hold a certificate of divorce? He had been replaying the notary’s words in his mind. Between which year’s tax return and which month’s bank statement were you supposed to slip thirty-odd years of love, laughter, intimacy and dreams that were meant to be shared?
‘Are you going to keep wearing your ring?’
With a lump in his throat, Joaquin refused to think about that.
‘I’ll take it off when it’s all over.’
With his mouth full, Sébastien scraped the bottom of his cereal bowl.
‘I hate to break it to you, Dad, but it is all over now.’
It may be all over for Moralès’s marriage but it’s a whole new start of other things! Order Whisper of the Seals directly from Orenda Books here and find out!