Review: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

melinatruthPublished by: Penguin Books
ISBN 13: 9780670079100
Published: September 2016
Pages: 405
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five

I’ve loved Marchetta’s work since Looking for Alibrandi first came out. All of her books about identity were amazing, and I did my final paper for high school on them, comparing with books such as Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career.

This book is both different and similar to her previous work. This is her first book for adults, and it’s crime/thriller when her previous books have been either contemporary or fantasy. And yet, within this book amongst the action and the fact finding, is a tale told from the heart about what it means to be family, of a minority race, and so many things most of is are lucky to not experience.

Set mostly in England but with brief sojourns to France, we follow Bish Ortley (recently stood down from London Met, for reasons Marchetta slowly drips out through the novel), as he goes to France when his daughter is on a bus that’s bombed. It turns out that also on the bus is a daughter of a women currently in jail, currently serving a life sentence for connections with a supermarket bombing many years earlier. Bish gets tangled in the kids’ lives, the previous crimes, and acts as the go-between between all the offices involved – London and French police, the home office, and the other parents of the injured or overwhelmed.

Throughout you are told of people who haven’t always done the right thing, but you get to understand why and how, and get to see how they’re still a human being, and that their entire being isn’t boiled down to this one fact. We see lives both ruined and built back together, and how different even one family can be whilst still having such strong ties.

It’s amazing how much heartbreak can be poured into a book and yet it not be overwhelming as a result. It’s impossible to put this book down, and you come to care for characters you didn’t previously think you could care for previously. I want more in this series – now not a thriller but a casual ‘let’s all have dinner’ and ‘oh look, here’s the weather today’, just so I can experience more of these characters and see them finally at rest, when the media and public aren’t out for any little bit of them they can get.

Superbly written, I’d suggest this both to people who don’t often read crime/thriller and those who do, because it is just that well written. And if you haven’t yet read Marchetta’s work, do so. Go on, do it.


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