Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard, the follow-up to We Were the Salt of the Sea. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Orenda Books for my digital review copy.
About the Book
When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a rare female in a male-dominated world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.
When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep.
Format: ebook (400 pages) Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 20th August 2020 Genre: Crime, Mystery
Find The Coral Bride (Detective Morales#2) on Goodreads
The Coral Bride is set among the same close-knit fishing communities of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula as her first book featuring Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès, We Were the Salt of the Sea, a book I very much enjoyed. The events in The Coral Bride take place over the space of a few weeks at the end of the fishing season when the shrimp and lobster trawlers are brought ashore for the winter.
If you’ll pardon the pun, Moralès remains rather a fish out of water. He still feels like something of an outsider, not just because of his Mexican heritage or the fact that the life he imagined with his wife, Sarah, has not turned out the way he planned. It’s also that he finds it hard to adjust to the different pace and way of doing things in Gaspé, even from a policing perspective where so much depends on local knowledge.
Having been reassigned against his wishes, and for reasons he doesn’t fully understand, to what was initially a missing person case doesn’t help. Nor does being put in charge of an investigation team consisting of Erik Lefebvre, an officer who much prefers desk research to field work, and Simone Lord, a rather combative Fisheries officer. However, Moralès is conscious he will need to find a way to work with them because they possess the local and technical knowledge he lacks.
When the missing person case becomes a suspicious death, Moralès faces the knotty problem of discovering whether it was a case of murder or suicide. His investigation reveals fractures in the small community that go back decades and, like nearly everything in the Gaspé Peninsula, involve fishing and the sea.
The introduction of Moralès’ eldest son, Sebastien, a young man with his own personal problems, into the story provides a fresh perspective. Sebastien’s respect for and confidence in his father has been undermined both by the estrangement of his parents and rumours that Joaquin has been unfaithful. If true, the latter is a bit too close to home. As he confides, “All I’ve seen lately is a whole bunch of lies” and, given his own behaviour, he’s begun to doubt that loyalty is something he’s inherited from his father.
The book demonstrates once again the author’s skill at conveying the beauty and power of the sea, preserved in the translation from French by David Warriner. “Beyond the windows, the sea scattered incalculable shards of moonlight, their illusory fragments of silver shimmering on the surface as the horizon stretched into the night.” But The Coral Bride is also a tightly plotted crime mystery whose solution reveals itself in a satisfying manner.
The Coral Bride is another beautifully written, engrossing mystery from the pen of Roxanne Bouchard.
In three words: Atmospheric, intriguing, suspenseful
Try something similar: Containment by Vanda Symon
About the Author
Over ten years 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. Her fifth novel (but the first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride. She lives in Quebec.
About the Translator
David Warriner grew up in deepest Yorkshire, has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls British Columbia home. He translated Johanna Gustawsson’s Blood Song for Orenda Books, and his translation of Roxanne Bouchard’s We Were the Salt of the Sea was runner-up for the 2019 Scott Moncrieff Prize for French-English translation.