Tell the Truth, Shame the DevilTell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

i added this book to my to-read list before there was even a synopsis up. that’s how much i love this author. and then, once it was up, i admit to being a little confounded – marchetta is writing an adult crime fiction thriller about an english cop investigating a bus bombing? it seemed so far outside of her usual wheelhouse.

which just shows how very little i know about marchetta’s wheelhouse.

because this was fantastic.

it’s definitely more crime fiction than mystery, even though there is a whodunnit at its core. but it’s more concerned with the effects of crime and punishment on the small scale: families, marriages, individuals, parents, and on the larger scale of cities, their citizens, and the politics surrounding these issues, intended to keep people safe and unafraid, sometimes failing to do so.

sounds like heavy stuff, but marchetta has the most fluid and graceful writing style – i would use the word “effortless” if it didn’t sound so insulting, because it’s damn hard to write prose that clean – and it’s an absolute pleasure to read.

she writes equally engagingly on such disparate topics as investigative procedures, the power struggles between different bodies of english law enforcement and those of other countries, a father’s struggle to connect with his teenage daughter and manage the complicated emotions resulting from his ex-wife’s pregnancy, immigration law and the plight of displaced persons, the legacy of shame and persecution affecting the family of an accused terrorist, language barriers, social responsibility and social media, justice and loyalty and sacrifice and racism and fearmongering propaganda. and it’s all done with such a light touch, the reader is absorbed into the story, connected to the characters, pulled into the immediacy of the investigation, truly invested in the outcome.

ordinarily i’ll write these annoyingly long, quote-filled reviews where i blah and blah about this or that, but this time i’m going to cut it short. not for any lack of enthusiasm, or because i might “spoil” something, but because sometimes when contemplating something particularly masterful, there are just no words.

it may seem strange for me to praise a book so highly and “only” give it four stars cats, but that’s just because of my own personal experience with her work – both On the Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son were so perfect to the reader who is me that this one cannot sit beside them up in five-star cat-land. but it’s a strong piece of writing with excellent characters, pacing, and construction, and it’s hard for me to find anything “wrong” with it, so we can call it a 4.999999999 stars cats if that helps drive you towards her work.

i would love to read more books featuring bish ortley, so i’m hoping this becomes a series. it definitely has potential to become one.

fingers crossed.

ummmm, so apparently this has been available on netgalley, from a publisher i am auto-approved by, for a while, and i had no idea. what a dummy i am.

but i have it now!

this one might rudely shove some books on the “to read next” list off the path.

can’t be helped.

read my reviews on goodreads

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