Detective Moralès returns in a breathtaking literary thriller set on the icy seas of Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, in the midst of a brutal seal hunt, where nothing is as it seems and absolutely no one can be trusted…
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…
Before I go any further let me just say that there are vivid descriptions of seal culling that some may find uncomfortable . On the flip side it had its place within the novel, not something Bouchard threw in to shock but to signify the greed, of its participants and the need to make money and survive.
Now that bit is out of the way what about the rest of the novel. For me this had to be one of Bouchard’s best, one that from the very first page reeled me in and released its grip at the end.
Once again, Simone Lord was that fearless fisheries officer unceremoniously thrown onto an all male sealing boat. She was a woman in a man’s world, derided, preyed on by men that saw her as fair game, there for their enjoyment. This is what I liked about Bouchard, no stereotypical woman for her, instead a woman who kept her vulnerability firmly under wraps, her resilience, resistance focused on the job, on finding that one person who could protect her.
Then of course we had Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales. For him it was all about coming to terms with his recent divorce, a holiday to get his head together. Could he leave the job behind, work out his feelings for Simone? The simple answer was, of course no, Bouchard was not going to let him have a relaxing time. Drawn into a fellow detectives case it soon became apparent something big was about to happen.
And so, Bouchard slipped ever so seamlessly between Joaquin and Simone, both stuck on their respective boats, sailing toward the unknown.
Bouchard knew how to tweak your feelings, your emotions that sense of urgency, of cold stone fear as Simone bravely battled her thoughts and the actions of the men.
Desperation swept in on all sides, the boat crew for the kill, for the dollar signs that loomed large, for Simone the need to survive, to warn others, to do her job. As the stakes rose, so did the chill Bouchard injected into the narrative, the vivid imagery of a cold, white, soulless climate, of murder, drugs and sacrifice.
You waited for Morales to join the dots, to perhaps be the knight in shining armour, a happy ending in sight. But hey, this was a crime novel, nothing guaranteed least of all from Bouchard.
It’s not for me to tell you the ending but let’s just say, I was shocked and I will leave it at that.
The Whisper of The Seals was what I would call Bouchard’s crossroads novel, a novel that challenged its characters to the extreme both physically and emotionally. It was her way of saying, we are at that point in the series where perhaps things needed to divert in another direction, new roads, new experiences. What a great way to keep us dangling, to leave this reader wanting more and hoping it won’t be long before the next Novel drops through the letterbox.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Whisper of the Seals to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
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
(first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, followed by The Coral Bride, which was a number-one bestseller in Canada, shortlisted for the CWA Translation Dagger and won the Crime Writers of Canada’s Crime Book of the Year Award. Whisper of the Seals is the third novel. She lives in Quebec with her partner, an undertak