The Appeal by Janice Hallett

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

26th January 2021.

The premise is simple. You, the reader, are challenged to review the evidence and solve a murder. Someone has already been convicted and is serving time, but is it the killer? What you are given is a collection of emails and texts sent by the people involved in the events leading up to the murder.

Everything revolves around the Fairway Players, a local amateur dramatic group, run by Martin Hayward and his family. When his granddaughter is found to have a rare brain tumour, he begins an appeal to raise a substantial sum for a treatment only available in the USA.

But not everyone is willing to play their part. Rumours and secrets cause rifts. Financial problems undermine the appeal, and the tension mounts until the murder is committed. At this point, you’re given a little help from the QC who’s taking the appeal and his articled clerks. They recap the main events and supply further details and information to help you narrow down the suspects and solve the crime.

I take my hat off to the author, who has created thousands of emails from a large cast of characters and put them in a chronological sequence to show the events that occurred and provoked the murder. These events, along with all the secrets and other shenanigans, are revealed from various character viewpoints, adding to the complexity. It must have taken meticulous planning to put this together.

Without the usual narrative and character descriptions you get with a novel, characterisation, suspense and the backstory were revealed through texts and emails – essentially dialogue. Some of the characters are vividly brought to life by the emails they write and there is a lot of humour and wry observations buried among the email traffic.

The trouble is, reading nothing but emails and texts from various characters, it’s difficult to get a flow until the pace and action increase. I couldn’t remember some of the characters, though the main ones became more memorable as the story developed. The recap by the QC helped to make some sense of what came before and what mattered.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, the premise and execution was different and challenging, and while initially I struggled with all those emails and texts, I was engaged enough to read on and form my own list of suspects.

Did I rise to the challenge and uncover the truth to correctly identify the killer and the reasons behind the murder?

All I can say is if you enjoy something different and unusual, this could be for you. The approach makes it a challenge to read, but once you get into the story it’s a well-written and delivered whodunit.

I received an advance copy in return for an honest review.

Description

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 Appeal by Janice Hallett

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