This detective novel is new genre for YA author Melina Marchetta, and it shows in her convincing teenage characters. They are not wimps, they're very varied in character, and of course, they are technologically savvy. When a bomb explodes on a tour bus full of British students in Normandy, the wheels of a complex plot are set in motion. Ex Chief Inspector Bish Ortney's daughter Bee escapes from the bus unscathed - physically - and Bish, suspended from his job and drinking heavily, becomes involved. Who did it, and why?
The book gallops along at a fast pace, and you need to have your wits about you to remember who's who, and to take in the various plot strands. These involve Noor LeBrac, imprisoned for her involvement in a bombing that killed 23 people. She had a PhD in chemistry from Cambridge, but did she really make the bomb her father used? Her daughter Violette was on that bus when she should have been hiking in Tasmania. How come? Was Violette the target? Why are 17 yo Violette and 13 yo Eddie spending so much time together on the tour? They have a similar look, and Eddie is adopted. Is Violette's boyfriend Charlie the rotten ratbag he seems to be? His parents are Salvation Army after all. Who is Bish's old school friend Elliot really working for? M15? Why did Bish and Rachel split up? What has that done to Bee? Why did Bish's mother Saffron seem so removed from him in his teenage years, and what did it do to her to be removed from her Egyptian father by wealthy English relatives after her mother's death? Did Violette's father commit suicide on the Yorkshire moors, or was it murder?
The novel is rich in detail regarding French/Algerian lives in exile and extremely convincing in the portrayal of police, diplomatic and media procedure in England and France. Australia is involved, because Violette grew up there with her father's parents after her mother went to prison. The adult characters are just as convincing as the youngsters who are often as wise as the adults, especially the tough Violette. In fact, the psychology of people is Marchetta's strongest point, which is not to denigrate any other aspect of her book. The writing doesn't waste words: it seems effortless, and never clunky, often funny, and sometimes evoking tears. It's a masterful book on all levels.
- Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; 1 edition (17 July 2017)
- ISBN-10: 0143785265
- ISBN-13: 978-0143785262
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.7 x 19.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 118 g
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)