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…
Hi and welcome to my review of Whisper of the Seals!
As much as I love standalone books, there is something undeniably satisfying about picking up a new instalment in a beloved series, catching up with characters you already know and love. Whisper of the Seals is the third book in the Detective Moralès series, and while it will be wonderful for any and all Roxanne Bouchard fans to dive back in, I also think it’s perfectly possible to read it as a standalone if you are so inclined.
I had been looking forward to heading back to Canada to find out how and what Moralès was doing and I fell head over heels in love with that cover as soon as I saw it, but I have to admit I also found it a bit scary. I mean, seal hunt? We’ve all seen the images of baby seals beaten to death, it’s not something I can stomach, and I’m pretty averse to any kind of animal being hurt in any kind of way in any book I read, so I did feel some trepidation.
For the first part of the book, Moralès is on holiday, involving himself in a case his old team is working on, taking a bit of a backseat as we follow fisheries officer Simone Lord on a trawler out on a seal hunt. A woman in what is basically considered a man’s job, especially one on board a trawler with a crew of manly men who don’t like fisheries officers nor women on board, let alone a combination of both, it’s obvious from the start this won’t be a walk in the park for Simone.
Before long, the announced seal hunts I was dreading are carried out and I do admire how the author tackles this subject. It was not the easiest read, but it was not by any means the vicious bloodbath I feared it might be. I learnt a lot about how seal hunts are organised and regulated. I was happy to learn that hunters need the necessary permits and that the authorities are coming down hard on poachers. I also didn’t know that seal hunting is allowed as a kind of culling system, like with certain forest animals, and that the manner in which the animals are killed is also highly regulated so as to prevent them from suffering.
Still, for the highly sensitive reader I must mention that a seal pup does get hurt inadvertently and that will hurt any animal-loving heart. However, if it didn’t mar my reading experience, I’m pretty sure it won’t spoil yours either so don’t let it stop you from picking up this book. For me, I think it helped that Simone is there, she loves the animals too and she’s very clear-headed and sober about the hunt so that did help me see beyond the emotional aspect.
Roxanne Bouchard, through David Warriner who is clearly an accomplished language magician, never fails to blow me away. She always manages to transport me to Canada, introducing me to a part of the country, be it geographical, historical or cultural, that I was previously unaware of. Her writing always oozes atmosphere, so much so that I actually felt like I was there on the ice in Canada despite my reading this on a warm summer’s day in Belgium.
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. Add Roxanne Bouchard’s and David Warriner’s beautiful prose, simple yet powerful, and a boatload of suspense in the final chapters (no, you practically bit off the hubby’s head when he dared disturb you just as you were about to find out something vital!) and I don’t need to tell you this was an absolute winner for me.
Whisper of the Seals is out on 18 August in digital formats and paperback. Preorder it directly from Orenda Books here. In the meantime, do keep an eye out for the Random Things Tour next month and be sure to come back to FromBelgiumWithBookLove on the 30th, I’ll have an excerpt up for you.
Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the eARC. All opinions are my own.