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Tell the Truth, Shame the DevilReview - Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil
by Melina Marchetta
Hachette Audio, 2016
Review by Christian Perring
Dec 13th 2016 (Volume 20, Issue 50)

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is a modern thriller set in England and France. Bish is the main character; he is a middle aged father, a suspended policeman, and recently divorced. His life, putting this in the noir detective genre, is a mess. Things get worse when he gets a phone call saying that there has been a bombing of a school bus of English schoolchildren in France, when his own daughter is on such a trip. He gets in his car and drives to France, picking his mother up on the way. He finds his daughter safe, which is a tremendous relief, since his son died several years ago, and another similar loss would make life unbearable.  But it was her bus that was bombed, and he finds that one of the other passengers was another girl, Violette, who is the daughter of a suicide bomber who killed many people 13 years ago. So it looks like that must be the reason the bus was bombed. Bish starts investigating on his own.

 

While the heart of the novel is about Bish and his family, it branches out to a large cast of characters and a complicated plot. It addresses multiculturism and refugees in Europe, terrorism and the state's response to it, and teenage sexual behavior. There is a lot to like here: Marchetta's characters are well described with strengths and weaknesses, and she provides a striking picture of modern England. It's a serious work that provokes thought about important social issues. While Bish is the main character, Marchetta does also tell the story from the perspective of several other characters, and this makes the story more well-rounded. Reader reviews on Amazon are very positive.

 

Nevertheless, the audiobook drags. The book is on the long side, taking nearly 10 hours. While the narrator Zaqi Ismail is consistent with his energy and his accents for the different characters, his tone is a little heavy, and it is difficult to keep track of all the people. It becomes hard to sympathize with them or care about what happens. Then there's the unfortunate fact that the Violette character has a lisp, which is a particularly awkward aspect of speech for a narrator to duplicate. So readers might do better to go for the print version rather than the audiobook.

 

 

 

© 2016 Christian Perring

 

 

 

Christian Perring is looking forward to visiting his homeland for the holidays.


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