Book Review: Do Tell // Lindsay Lynch

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Published in July 2023 with Hodder & Stoughton, Do Tell is Lindsay Lynch’s glittering debut novel following the highs and lows of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Edie O’Dare, an actress nearing the end of her contract, attends a fateful party and becomes involved in a scandal: a young actress alleging that she was sexually assaulted by an A-list star.

Lynch’s writing feels both accurate to the setting and all too timely. Almost nobody believes the young actress. Many of those who do still say nothing. The actor’s fans show up at the courthouse to support him, clamouring for autographs and quoting his action films – he’s a hero on the silver screen, so how could he possibly be capable of such a thing? Her plight feels real and grounded: we as the audience feel for her as an individual and as a vessel for so many other silenced victims, powerless against their perpetrators’ popularity.

This isn’t the only Hollywood scandal we’re exposed to throughout the book. Fans of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will tear through this story of the film industry’s underbelly – Lynch knows how to keep readers hooked and bide her time when it comes to reveals. The first person is a good way of delivering gossip, too – we see what Edie sees, as she sees it. A third-person narrative could have fallen into the trap of telling us too much, or nothing at all.

Edie O’Dare is an interesting character. At no point can she be described as good or bad – she’s deliciously morally grey. One thing that is hard to believe, however, is her lack of foresight. Although dramatic irony is an effective technique on the part of the author, there are some things the reader figures out early on that Edie couldn’t possibly have been blind for so much of the story as an investigator and columnist. In addition, there are times when she doesn’t seem to think about consequences – or, when she has, still seems surprised when they actually unfold.  

Admittedly, at times the book doesn’t always seem to know where it is going. It is about the sexual assault trial, and Edie’s gossip column, and life in Hollywood. But these things don’t always marry together perfectly. One might expect the trial to form more of the heart of the book, but pacing-wise it isn’t centred in quite the right way. However, Lynch does have an eye for the fine details, and these are what make the book such a tantalising read. The only suggested improvement is for these fine strokes to make a slightly more cohesive, bigger picture.

Both perfectly dated and shockingly timely, Do Tell is an excellent work of character with both touching romances and an independent lead. If there are more books to come from Lindsay Lynch they will be as refreshing as a Hollywood martini.

Words by Casey Langton

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