BWW Review: TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL by Melina Marchetta

BWW Review: TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL by Melina Marchetta

"And Bish thought it strange that seventeen-year-old girls who had sex with idiot boys could still cry like babies for their fathers."


BWW Review: TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL by Melina MarchettaTELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL by Melina Marchetta is a timely crime novel that will resonate with the world we're currently living in. It deals with terrorism, with racism and the prejudices people carry. It talks about immigration issues and pokes at the way journalists and social media can exacerbate a situation or report without all of the details.

Bish Ortley is a man down on his luck. He's been suspended from his job as a chief inspector with London's Metropolitan Police. His marriage dissolved after the death of a child and his ex-wife is now pregnant with another man's son. His daughter is a surly teen who hates him. He's developing a drinking problem to forget his worries. One morning, still hungover from the night before, he finds out that a bus full of British kids touring Normandy has been bombed. Fearing that it might be the bus his daughter is on, he frantically heads to France, picking up his mother for moral support along the way, and finds out the horrifying truth: It was his daughter's bus that was bombed.

Luckily, she's okay, but she's seen people she knew and had various attachments killed or seriously maimed. Her roommate on the trip, Violette LeBrac Zidane, may have had something to do with the bombing. When it's uncovered that Violette has dropped the "Zidane" from her name and come up with fake documentations, she becomes the primary suspect. Her grandfather was a suicide bomber thirteen years ago and her mother Noor is serving time in prison for making the bomb. Ironically, Bish was the one who helped put Noor away in jail at the time.

Violette's presence on the trip is leaked to the media, and everyone starts crying for blood. Being a terrorist must run in the family, and now that Violette has disappeared, the public wants her caught and behind bars. Bish, however, isn't convinced that Violette planted the bomb. She may have, in fact, been the victim if someone had figured out who she was and wanted retribution for her grandfather's crimes. He wants to find Violette to protect her, but as he begins digging into the bombing, he pulls up buried secrets that could change everything he has ever known.

This isn't Marchetta's first rodeo show. She debuted in the 1990s with LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, which was turned into an Australian movie considered to be iconic, even as it remains relatively unknown overseas. The film won five AFI Awards, including Best Film and Best Lead Actress, as well as an AFI for Best Adapted Screenplay for Marchetta, who adapted her novel for film. She went on to write JELLICOE ROAD, which would become the 2009 Printz Winner (Basically the Newbery or Caldecott for Teen Books). She's also written a well-received and highly acclaimed YA fantasy series. TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL is Marchetta's first adult novel, but her focus on human relationships and the ties that bind us remain just as present now as they always have.

This type of "crime thriller" is more Jodi Picoult than it is Gillian Flynn. It's not as twisty and psychological as today's best selling crime thrillers, but it's still fast-paced enough to keep the pages turning and the reader engaged. Readers delve into what makes various characters tick and come to care greatly for them and their plight. They want to read on to see how everything come together, how the characters react to the story's fallout.

The heart of this book lies in its characters. It explores the depth of familial connections, as well as the lengths we may go to protect friends. It explores our dual nature to wear a mask in public and act one wy to protect ourselves, then show our true hearts when there's no one around to judge us. It showcases how a horrible, devastating event can bring us closer, how it can force us to persevere. So much of the time, we judge people without knowing all of their crooked corners or inner heart, and this book points these failures out in a way that works.

If you're looking for a crime novel with character depth and heart that will resonate with the world of today, TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL by Melina Marchetta is a worthy read.

***TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL by Melina Marchetta was released in the USA on October 11, 2016 from Mulholland Books // Little, Brown.

It was first published in Australia on August 29, 2016 from Viking / Penguin.

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More From This Author

Bonnie Lynn Wagner Bonnie Lynn Wagner has been a reader for as long as she can remember. Friends frequently come to her for book recommendations, and eventually, she decided to start reviewing books in order to share her love of them with everyone! While her favorite genre is fantasy, she reads and reviews many others, from contemporary novels to juvenile picture books.

When she isn't reviewing books, you can find her on Twitter @abackwardsstory talking about musicals, nail polish, and Disney, among other things!

She continues to review at if you'd like even more book recommendations!

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