>> Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Bashir “Bish” Ortley is a London desk cop. Almost over it. Still not dealing with the death of his son years ago, as well as the break-up of his marriage.Argh!! This had what was potentially a really interesting plot. A bus bombing in a campsite in France. The bus is full of British teenagers. Or mostly British -one has joined them from Australia, and she's from a family where several members were convicted of planning and executing a terrorist attack in London several years earlier. Violette's mother is in jail for aiding and abetting her own father, who set up a bomb in a London supermarket that killed several people. No one believes Violette's presence on the bus was a coincidence, and according to the press and pretty much anyone else speaking in public, she's as much of a terrorist as the rest of her family.
Across the channel, a summer bus tour, carrying a group of English teenagers is subject to a deadly bomb attack, killing four of the passengers and injuring a handful of others. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.
The suspect is 17 year old Violette LeBrac whose grandfather was responsible for a bombing that claimed the lives of dozens of people fourteen years ago; and whose mother, Noor, has been serving a life sentence for the part she was supposed to have played in the attack.
As Bish is dragged into the search for the missing Violette, he finds himself reluctantly working with Noor LeBrac and her younger brother, Jimmy Sarraf.
And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more Bish realizes that they may have got it wrong all those years ago, and that truth wears many colours. Especially when it comes to the teenagers on board the recent bus bombing. Including his daughter.
Tell the truth. Shame the devil. Bish can’t get Violette LeBrac’s words out of his head. But what he may get is some sort of peace with his own past as the worlds of those involved in two bombings, years apart, collide into the journey of his life.
Our protagonist, Bashir "Bish" Ortley is a cop whose daughter was on the bus as well. He was involved in the supermarket bombing as an investigator, and he was the one who arrested Violette's's mother. Bish's daughter is fine and wasn't injured in the bus bombing, but his role as a father allows him access to the case, and shadowy figures in some sort of secret intelligence organisation pressure him to make use of that access. When Violette and one of her friends disappear, Bish seems to be the only one with a way to find them and discover what happened.
I really, REALLY wanted to know what the hell was going on here. I wanted to know what was up with Violette and what she had been doing on that bus, not to mention who'd set the bomb and why. I wanted to know what had actually happened in the supermarket bombing, and what secrets Violette's mother was keeping. So if anyone would like to spoil me, please do, because I'm afraid I just couldn't continue reading. Much as I wanted to know, the characters were so terribly written, so 'off', that I just couldn't. The offness starts on the very first page, with a little vignette showing one of the victims of the supermarket bombing just before it happend. It's this scouse guy living in London, who thinks about how he's becoming a fan of this young guy who's just been signed by Man Utd, even though his people back home would disapprove. Yeah, right. That set the tone. I didn't believe in any of the characters or their reactions, and the writing was overdramatic.
It wasn't just the main characters that I didn't believe in; the whole context in which these things were happening felt wrong. Everything, from the reactions of bystanders to the headlines in the press. I could see what issues Marchetta was trying to explore, issues of racial profiling and sterotypes and discrimination, but it was as all so heavy-handed and unsubtle that it wasn't effective in the least.
Such a shame.
MY GRADE: A DNF.