The Appeal

One Murder. Fifteen Suspects. Can You Uncover The Truth?

Written by Janice Hallett

Crime | Thriller | Mystery

In a town full of secrets… Someone was murdered. Someone went to prison. And everyone’s a suspect. Can you uncover the truth?

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death. Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered. Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

~

Firstly, I feel it is quite pertinent to mention that I am not much of a crime reader. Excluding 9-12 murder mysteries, I can probably count on one hand the number of crime books I have read. However, having a younger sister who has developed an obsession for Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle, plus a lockdown of binge-watching ‘Death In Paradise’, crime has been stealing it’s way into my repertoire though definitely the lighter side of this genre!

Like Outraged, which I reviewed last week, Hallett’s The Appeal was selected as a Waterstones Book of the Month for July. The more I heard about it, the more I wanted to read it. Hallett is heralded by the Sunday Times as ‘a modern Agatha Christie’ – a title I now feel is thoroughly deserved. Think small backwater town, super tight community, a suffocating social hierarchy, double personalities, lots of secrets and the truth hidden in plain sight…

Two things caught my initial attention about this book, both of which lived up to my expectations and remain my favourite aspects of the book. One was the fact that the events are set against the backdrop of an amateur dramatics society. This made for a fantastic canvas on which Hallett painted some truly fantastic ‘drama between characters’. Having been in amdram herself, the world was vividly created by Hallett and great fun to read about. The second element I loved was the epistolary structure of the novel. At 444 pages in length, it’s a chunky read to say the least. As an amateur crime reader, a novel of that length would probably (definitely) have deterred me (I’m actually a pretty passive reader, so to say that waiting 400+ pages to have the murderer revealed to me would be frustrating, is an understatement!) However, the form of emails, texts, transcripts, and various other documents, worked to keep the pace up nicely. Following along was manageable in these shorter bursts of correspondence. To add to this, Femi and Charlotte (the law students assigned the evidence) have regular messenger check-ins with each other throughout the book, which really help the reader to work out if they are keeping up! Like Hastings in Christie, these check-ins provide the chance for one of them to explain things to the other, and thus the reader too!

I really take my hat off to Hallett – the construction of this mystery was super clever and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Meg xx

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