A long time ago, every summer, wealthy English-speaking families settled in La Malbaie. A world apart that serves as a pretext for an interesting thriller.
Already, the cover photo – period ladies, black and bluish white – makes you want to stop. The title, of an obsolete sobriety, also retains us: An investigation in Murray Bay.
The prologue arrives: “1910. In La Malbaie, the whole village knew the Brockwells. In a few words, a whole framework is set: the distant past, the village here, and the aura of wealthy families – those Americans who, in the summer, settle in their villas around Murray Bay and whose inhabitants draw a “providential windfall of bills “.
All that remains is to launch the action that will turn the story into a detective story.
On Friday, July 1, when the Brockwells get off the boat bringing them from Montreal, they do not yet know that a passenger has been found dead in his cabin. A suspicious death, but above all delicate, because the victim, the lawyer Alcide Gagnon, is an associate of Rodolphe Forget.
This Forget existed: rare French Canadian millionaire, Conservative MP and pillar of Charlevoix, we remember today the manor of Saint-Irénée which bears his name and the action of his daughter, Thérèse Casgrain, champion of the fight for obtaining the right to vote for women in Quebec.
Céline Beaudet,— of whom this is the first novel, therefore mixes fiction and reality: enough to increase our interest! Especially since she does it in many ways and explains it at the end of the novel.
Thus, since the dead man on the boat belongs to the elite, it is out of the question that the local police takes care of it. Instead, we call on the Montreal Detective Bureau, whose director, Silas Carpenter (who once existed), is keen on innovation. He sends the (fictional) detective Édouard Lavergne to La Malbaie, equipped with a novelty: powder to take fingerprints.
By intertwining the work of Lavergne, precursor of techniques that have become familiar to us, and a now extinct resort life, Beaudet credibly recounts a pivotal moment where yesterday and tomorrow meet.
It is even the heart of the plot. Me Gagnon was indeed the bearer of a controversial mission: Rodolphe Forget was looking for support for a train to go to La Malbaie in order to attract tourists. But the Americans have no desire for all comers to invade their paradise…
To which are added what froze beneath the appearances: adulterous and homosexual loves, desires for female emancipation , without forgetting the special relationship between the villagers and the visitors: “French Canadians had learned very young the workings of submission and humility”. This kind of judicious observations sprinkle the story.
Then Beaudet created two beautiful characters with his detective Lavergne and the young Jeanne, brought to assist him. We anticipate a sequel. Better, we wish!