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…
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.
Hi and welcome to my review of We Were the Salt of the Sea, a mesmerizing novel that made me want to hop into the car and drive to the coast to sit and gaze at the sea, because:
When you look out to sea, you don’t need anything else to happen.
This was my first Roxanne Bouchard novel and I found she has a distinct writing style that, I won’t lie, took me a minute to wrap my head around. I’m not sure what it is exactly that makes her style so unique, I think it’s partly because the original French was quite tangible in the characters and in the story, despite the excellent English translation. That’s not a bad thing, mind, just something I’m not used to, and I’m probably describing it all wrong, so do find out for yourself!
Before long though, I found myself ensnared, lured into the story, seduced by Roxanne Bouchard’s siren song. The sea, it was everywhere. Even when the story plays out on land, even without looking out to sea, it was in the big things and the little things, in the choice of words, in the turns of phrase, in the ebb and flow of the sentences, and even when I thought I was about to sip clean spring water, it tasted of salt.
For us sailors, it’s not being at sea that’s complicated, it’s being on land. We live and we die at sea because we’re born to chase the horizon.
Some of the characters are larger than life, while others are silently understated. One of the main characters isn’t even there but governs the story nonetheless, and the most important character isn’t even human, it’s the sea.
They’re always harping on about people being the salt of the earth. Heee … Well, doesn’t that make us mariners the salt of the sea?
If you’re looking for a run-of-the-mill police procedural, an off-the-peg murder mystery, move along, you won’t find it here. But what you will find is a beautiful, lyrical love story, not so much between people (although there is some of that), but between humans and the sea, a devastating love, a terrible love.
When you’ve loved the sea, betrothed yourself to her for better or worse and spent your whole life with her by your side, no life after death can take her away from you.
I am the quintessential armchair detective. Give me any kind of mystery and I’ll put my little grey cells to work, I might even whip out the old whiteboard, markers and red thread if it’s a particularly complicated conundrum. But We Were the Salt of the Sea made me take a step back. Of course I wanted to know what had happened to the elusive Marie Garant, adored by some, hated by others. Of course I cared how Moralès’ investigation was going, whether he’d botch it up, or save the day. Yet We Were the Salt of the Sea didn’t let me race through it on a speedboat to find all the answers, it made me bob around, savouring the scenery. If you’re in the market for a unique read and have enjoyed these snippets, then I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of We Were the Salt of the Sea and come look out to sea with me.
The sea’s not a choice you make, Catherine. Some of us are drawn to the Far North and others never want to leave home; some go into politics, and others want to stay home and have kids. You go to sea because it’s the only door that opens when you knock, because it keeps you awake at night, Catherine. Every time you step ashore and into the crowd, you feel how different you are. You feel like a stranger. You go to sea because you’re a drifter among others and you only feel at home in the silence of the wind.