Mandie is back at the helm today (topical pun – did you see what I did there) with her review of The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard, book two in the detective Morales series set on the Gaspe Peninsula. I love the lyrical nature of the author’s writing and this book let me with a real hankering for Mango Salsa but if you want to read my review, you can find it here. Here’s what it’s all about:
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.
Exquisitely written, with Bouchard’s trademark lyrical prose, The Coral Bride evokes the power of the sea on the communities who depend on it, the never-ending struggle between the generations, and an extraordinary mystery at the heart of both.
After falling in love with Roxanne Bouchard’s first book We Were the Salt of the Sea, I was thrilled when I found out about The Coral Bride and eagerly awaited its publication. Having devoured the book in 2 days I can honestly say it was worth the wait.
The book opens with the murder of Angel Roberts, the owner and captain of a fishing trawler. This opening sequence sets the tone of what the reader can expect going forward and the writing seems to match the flow of the sea that is the setting for this book.
Detective Joaquin Moralès finds himself being sent to investigate the disappearance of Angel Roberts after her boat is found adrift. Initial belief is that she has taken her own life and it is down to Moralès with the assistance of local policeman Erik Lefebvre and fisheries officer Simone Lord to determine if this is the case or if something more sinister happened. With no body and a community that seems less than willing to open up to him, he clearly has his work cut out for him. Added to this he is also dealing with the appearance of his son Sébastien who seems to be running away from his own problems.
If Moralès thought his biggest problem was going to be getting Angel’s family and friends to open up to him about past grudges and events, he had not banked on the animosity he was getting from Simone Lord. She clearly resented him turning up “late”, believing him to be just marking time until his retirement and they certainly rubbed each other up the wrong way at times. Over time they developed a grudging respect for one another, finally working together to find the person behind the tragedy. What is evident is that the more they dig, the more they see there are links to events in the past that on the surface appear to have been forgiven and forgotten. The interaction between Moralès and his son at times showed similarities between the families in the Gaspé Peninsula. Clearly unable to communicate with each other at the start, they somehow manage to find a common ground and a sense of peace that adds an extra dimension to this already captivating book.
This is so much more than a murder investigation and the setting of a small fishing community, its beliefs and its secrets, certainly make this book stand apart. If you are expecting a fast paced, police procedural book then you will be disappointed, however do not let the slow pace fool you. Once you start you will find that the story flows so brilliantly that before you know it you will have reached the end. Roxanne Bouchard’s writing is as magical as the locations she expertly describes transport the reader to those regions and allowing you to become immersed in the story. I for one am so hoping there is more to come from this amazing author.
About the Author
Ten years or so 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. We Were the Salt of the Sea is her fifth novel, and her first to be translated into English. She lives in Quebec.
Books by Roxanne Bouchard