Review: The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Description (from cover): “Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell, this international bestseller and “dazzlingly clever” (The Sunday Times, London) murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child–but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.

The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.

But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy–nor of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the materials–emails, messages, letters–with a growing suspicion that the killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.

A wholly modern and gripping take on the epistolary novel, The Appeal is a “daring…clever, and funny” (The Times, London) debut for fans of Richard Osman and Lucy Foley.”

My Thoughts:

This book is written in emails, letters, text messages and articles which is a nice departure from the normal writing style of books. Using this method, the author makes the reader figure out the story on their own and use the evidence to make their own determinations. I am a paralegal by day and a mystery reader by night, so the opportunity to be able to use my legal training while reading for my own entertainment was a nice change of pace. Two young attorneys have been asked by a senior attorney in their firm to review the evidence in a murder trial. They scour through the many pages of emails and messages to make their own determinations, but the reader is doing this along with them throughout the book. Using the epistolary method, the reader comes to learn about the characters through their own words.

A small town theatre group has been close-knit for many years putting on amateur versions of plays. When a new couple, Sam and Kel Greenwood join the group, the other members are wary of the newcomers, but try to welcome them to the group with open arms. When the director of the play, Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, announce to the group that their two-year-old granddaughter has a rare form of brain cancer, the group rallies around them and they start a campaign to raise the funds needed for her expensive experimental treatment. Everyone pitches in and donates funds and their time to ensure that the funds are raised for the little girl’s treatment. Of course, nothing is as it appears things start to not match up. When a member of the group is murdered, everything comes to light and it seems everyone involved may have a motive for the murder.

This book was phenomenal. I couldn’t put it down and having to use my own deductions to try to solve the mystery was something that I really enjoyed. The evidence is only partly provided to the reader, and having to make deductions based on the facts presented was a different experience for this accomplished reader. The characters were well developed and had their own issues and everyone is not who they seem to be. There were many twists, turns and shocks during the reading of this book, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen next. I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to see if the author is going to write another book in this format. Even if she doesn’t, she has proven herself to be an author to watch in the future.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Janice Hallett

Series: N/A

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

Pages: 431

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was selected by myself at the library, and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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