The Appeal by Janice Hallett

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?

The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.

The Appeal was one of my most anticipated books this month and it certainly didn’t disappoint! I don’t want to say too much about the plot for fear of spoiling it but it involves an amateur theatre company in a close community and what happens when the granddaughter of one of the members becomes seriously ill and needs expensive medical treatment. And when the fundraising becomes the focus of the members as they fit it around the rehearsals for their latest play, it becomes clear that people and things aren’t always what they appear to be!

It’s not often a book takes my breath away with how clever the plot is, but The Appeal is such a brilliant concept that I’ve never seen done so well before. It’s highly original format delivered a twisty mystery in a way I would not have expected considering the way in which it has been written. There is no narrative or chapters as such but a collection of emails, what’s app messages, text messages, social media and media posts and transcripts from police interviews. It shouldn’t work…but it does and better than I ever expected it to! Imagine Agatha Christie if social media had existed during her writing years and you get The Appeal!

There are some very unlikeable characters within this book which is amazing really as at no point are we ever able to watch them in their setting or even have them physically described for us! But through the power of their emails we are able to picture these players as they act out their lives, giving out clues as to what has happened within their community-can you work out who has been murdered and why? There is a suspect in prison for the crime that’s about to be commuted but is it the right person? You will suspect everyone!

The Appeal is a groundbreaking, intelligent read that had me completely immersed from start to finish. I did work out some of the clues but the red herrings thrown in to distract me often did their job perfectly to throw me off the scent. A wonderful debut novel!

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.