Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta
Published: October 11th, 2016
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
When Bish Ortley, a suspended cop, receives word that a bus carrying his daughter has been bombed, he rushes to her side. A suspect has already been singled out: a 17-year-old girl who has since disappeared from the scene. The press has now revealed that she is the youngest member of one of London’s most notorious families. Thirteen years earlier, her grandfather set off a suicide bomb in a grocery store, a bomb her mother confessed to building. Has the girl decided to follow in their footsteps? To find her, Bish must earn the trust of her friends and family, including her infamous mother, now serving a life sentence in prison–but as he delves into the deadly bus attack that claimed five lives, the ghosts of older crimes become impossible to ignore. A gripping fusion of literary suspense and family drama, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is a fast-paced puzzle of a novel that will keep readers feverishly turning pages.
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“When Arab women are brilliantly smart, you’re threatened by them,” she said, “and when they’re beautiful, you love them. And when they’re both, you’re antagonistic towards them.”
“Is there a difference between belief and certainty?” It was a rhetorical question, but Bush nodded all the same. “Then no, I don’t believe she was coerced. I’m certain of it.”
Bish Ortley is a suspended cop who drinks away the pain from the death of his son and his wife leaving him. It’s during his suspension that he receives the call that his daughter’s bus, while away on tour, was blown up. Bish races across the channel to get to her in France. One of the students on the bus is none other than Violette LeBrac daughter to Noor LeBrac and the notorious LeBrac family who bombed a store. Violette is already named a suspect before any evidence is ever found. Suddenly she and another boy from the tour are suddenly missing. If Bish wants to find them in one piece he will have to get inside her head and get close and earn the trust of those closest to her and pick apart the lies and truths. With each passing day and the two still put in hiding things get more and more intense. The kids from the tour, including Bee Bish’s daughter, seem to know more than they are letting on and the clock is ticking before another attack will happen. To understand the present Bish must delve into past crimes and right the wrongs that were done. The plot kicks in straight away from chapter one and we are immediately thrown into this intense story of family drama, crime, and love. You get grabbed by this rush and intensity and don’t get released from it until the final pages are closed. The aftermath of the bombing scene and another bombing scene really captures the intensity, the hysterics, the fear, the unknown, etc. that people normally feel in real life. If you have seen any thriller films like The Taking Pelham 123, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, Inside Man, or anything movie that invokes those emotions that is how this book read. It was paced really well and those plot twists left my jaw on the floor.
“This better not be a joke,” Sarraf said. “Lost my sense of humor when someone put a bomb on my daughter’s bus.”
“Can I trust him?” Violette asks. “Your father, I mean. He’s everywhere. Who’s he working for?” “I think he’s working for you, Violette. I think my dad wants to save every kid in England because he couldn’t save his own.”
The story was set mostly between the U.K. and France. We got British dialect and character’s speaking French so that gave really good authenticity to the characters. The writing matched the feel of the theme and plot of the book. Her writing gave room for that thrilling and suspenseful atmosphere. You constantly were in a “who did it?” state because of how fantastic Marchetta keeps you on your toes with her twists and turns. I love the way the author played up how everyone knew certain things or didn’t and just how she revealed it all. The story explores issues of terrorism, racism, immigration, and social media’s “lynch-mob mentality.” There are political tensions throughout that ben seamlessly into the story and really starts a conversation.
“…People are only outraged when Muslim men are violent towards Muslim women. That’s the only time you people care about our women.”
“…Some women feel strongly about being forced to wear a hijab, and my mother felt strongly about being forced not to wear it.”
Bish Ortley started off as a suspended alcoholic struggling with the death of his son. I loved his growth as a character. He didn’t have to do all he did for Violette and the kids on that bus or get himself involved in the case but his nature and character did that. He was easy to talk to, trustworthy, caring, loving, and would move heaven and earth to do what had to be done. One of his most selfless acts was when he drove the bus with the second bomb away from the school grounds to protect all the people. Ortley was the main point of view but throughout we got other main characters views and they were just as complex and interesting as Bish. I really just loved how connected everyone was. Violette was a girl on a mission to prove her mother’s innocence and protect her brother. She was fierce, guarded, and loving. Eddie was sweet, gentle, protected Violette, ad a jokester. Noor LeBrac was a woman who would do anything for her family even serve a life sentence for something she didn’t do. Jamal Sarraf was a man in exile and someone who did not trust easily. Fionn Sykes was a boy who noticed things and was a kind soul who takes care of his friends. Charlie Crombie was a leader, wise-ass, smart, and as you learn incredibly loyal and level-headed/caring in a scary situation. Layla Bayat was a woman who just wanted her history to stay there and not ruin her chances of a better life but as she grows she realizes she is tied to her history. Bee is the daughter of Bish. She is loyal, smart, sarcastic, funny, and loves her dad.
“And there it was. That slight lisp. That awful accent. That funny face that made him ache. Charlie wasn’t just a cheat. He was a liar as well. Because Violette Zidane wasn’t just the girl he was shagging, like he told the cop. She sort of owned his heart a little. Kind of a lot.”
“Oh but we are,” she said bitterly. “Because if your father had blown up those people, they would never have come for your mother, or you. They came for the Sarrafs because of our race.”
This was a story that focused a lot on family, friendship, and love. All three of these themes intertwined and created for a very impactful journey. The friendships we saw were either already there and some were grown into that. There were trust and care in them. The family aspect intertwined the LeBracs, Conlons, Ortleys, Sarrafs, and Bayats. These families all had paths that crossed and would need each other in order to work out what really happened at the bus bombing and what really happened to the LeBrac family. There was so much love going around and it really just elevated the story because all these people would do anything to protect those they loved.
“Etienne LeBrac was the love of my life. But some days you make me forget him and I don’t think I can forgive you for that.” “When you can forgive me for making you forget, send me a letter. Handwritten. I might just give up my Saturday afternoons to see you.”