Review: Three Debts Paid by Anne Perry

Description (from cover): “A serial killer is roaming the streets of London, and Daniel Pitt’s university chum Ian, now a member of the police, is leading the search. The murders happen on rainy nights, but Ian knows the victims must have something in common beyond the weather. He turns to Miriam fford Croft, Daniel’s good friend and now officially one of the first female pathologists in London, to tap her scientific know-how to find details he and Daniel have missed.

With Miriam involved in the murder investigation, Ian passes Daniel the case of Nicholas Wolford, their former university professor. Charged with assault after reacting violently to an accusation of plagiarism, Wolford, a proud, boastful man, is loath to admit he was in the wrong. But Daniel must defend him — whether he likes him or not.

As the murders continue with no clue as to who is committing them, Miriam, Daniel, and Ian find themselves questioning everything. Is the “Rainy-Day Slasher,” as the newspapers have dubbed the killer, really just one person? Or have the investigators stumbled into a more complicated web of deceit? The answer may lie closer than anyone could have expected.”

My Thoughts:

Anne Perry has long been a favorite of mine. You can just tell by viewing all of the books and series I have reviewed on this blog to get an idea of how much I really enjoy her books. This book is the fifth installment in Perry’s Daniel Pitt series. In this book, Daniel has been engaged to defend his former professor in a case where he has committed assault against another writer for the allegation of plagiarism. Wolford is a loose cannon and Daniel struggles to rein him in throughout the case. Simultaneously with this case, the Rainy-Day Slasher has been killing innocent people on the streets of London during rainy weather as the name suggests. All of the victims seem to be unconnected, but why has the killer targeted them and who is behind the crimes?

Miriam fford Croft, a friend of Daniel’s, has now returned home from training to become a pathologist. This murder spree is her first official case and she struggles with her own self-doubts as to whether she is doing her job correctly and whether she can catch the murderer before he harms someone else. In this book, we do not have as much courtroom drama as the previous installments of this book as the author focuses on the murder cases and Miriam’s new career as a pathologist. While I enjoyed reading this book, I felt that it lacked the previous excitement of the previous installments in this series and felt that it was really a book focused on character development for the series overall.

The ending was a little incomprehensible and seemed a little bit of a stretch and rushed. While this wasn’t a favorite read of mine in this series, I found it refreshing to be back with the characters and to see how their stories have evolved since the beginning of this series. I am hoping the next installment will bring back the courtroom drama that really drew me into this series in the first place. Not a terrible read, just not one of the better ones of this series. I am curious to see where the author plans to take these loveable characters next.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: Anne Perry

Series: Daniel Pitt Mystery #5

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: April 12, 2022

Pages: 296

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Key to Deceit by Ashley Weaver

Description (from cover): “London, 1940. After years of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor–well, to themselves, anyway–Ellie McDonnell and her family have turned over a new lead as they help the government’s war effort. It’s true that the straight-laced Major Ramsey didn’t give them much choice, but still, Ellie must admit she doesn’t miss breaking and entering as much as she might have thought. What she does miss is the challenge of unlocking an impossible code and the adrenaline rush that comes from being somewhere she shouldn’t.

So when Major Ramsey turns up unannounced with another job, she can’t say no. A woman’s body has been found floating in the Thames, with a bracelet locked onto her wrist, and a cameo locket attached to it. It’s clear this woman was involved in espionage, but whose side was she on? Who was she reporting to? And who wanted her dead?”

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Electra McDonnell mystery series by Ashley Weaver. While I haven’t reviewed this series yet on this blog, I have reviewed other books by this author. I really like this author’s way of writing as she leaves mystery surrounding her main characters. With Ellie’s character, we learn more with each book about her parents and how Ellie’s mother was imprisoned and charged with her father’s murder. Not much is known about her father’s murder and the facts and circumstances surrounding it, but the author feeds little nuggets throughout this series to keep the reader engaged and curious. I would love to find out more about this storyline and hope that the author provides some more information along the way.

In this book, Ellie is approached by Major Ramsey for another espionage job. A woman’s body has been found in the Thames and he needs her help unlocked a locked bracelet that is found on the body. It appears that the lady was murdered because she was an undercover spy for the Germans and helping them with their war efforts against Britain. The story was engaging and while it lacked the suspense that the first novel had, it was still an enjoyable read. We follow Ellie, her family and friends, along with the ever exhausting Major Ramsey, throughout the investigation where they don’t always use above board methods to accomplish their tasks.

I have really come to enjoy Ellie’s character and past storyline. I think that this will be a series that I will follow for some time. I enjoy the author’s way of making the main character not so perfect and it really makes her very likeable. There is a lot of promise with this series and as I stated, I will be eager to read every installment in this series. A great historical mystery set during WWII in London which really shows how the Blitz destroyed the city’s buildings, but not the spirit of its people. Another fantastic read by Ashley Weaver.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Ashley Weaver

Series: Electra McDonnell Mystery #2

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Pages: 269

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Loyal Friend by A.A. Chaudhuri

Description (from cover): “She has your back. And may stab you in it.

Wealthy, pampered Susan is living the perfect life in leafy Kingston. She’ll never let anyone see the darkness she’s concealing behind the diamonds and rose.

Grace is new to the group, seemingly the perfect wife and mum. Yet no one knows the truth of what’s happening behind closed doors.

Loner Natalie hides the pain of her childhood behind a carefully ordered life. But how long can the past stay hidden?

Three unlikely friends, brought together for a weekly class run by beautiful, friendly instructor Jade.

But when Jade goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the group starts to unravel. And as their darkest secrets come to light, it seems that no one can be trusted. Even their closest friends…

A heart-in-your-mouth thriller that builds twist after twist, culminating in an unforgettable ending. This shocking, tense and gripping read will delight fans of T.M. Logan, B.A. Paris and Big Little Lies.”

My Thoughts:

It seems that I have been on a more psychological thriller kick here lately with my reading choices. I picked this up for review on NetGalley because it looked so good and I love a good mystery with a lot of suspects and this one seemed a perfect fit. In this book, we follow four friends, Natalie, Susan and Grace who all attend Jade’s fitness class. When Jade suddenly goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Natalie, Susan and Grace who all have secrets of their own come under suspicion during the investigation. It seems that Natalie, Grace, Susan and Jade all have secrets from their pasts that could come back to haunt them and put them under the direct spotlight of the police.

I liked this book. It kept my attention and even though I felt I predicted some of the plot twists in advance, it was still a good read. This story is told from each of the characters’ points of view, including Jade who is missing. We see glimpses of their pasts and their current lives come through, however there is not enough information to put everything together. It seemed that just when I felt like I had a handle on who might be the culprit, something would make me suspect another character and switch the storyline in a completely opposite direction. The ending was totally unexpected and fantastically well-done from a mystery standpoint.

This is the type of book where you don’t immediately connect with any of the characters. They all seem to be unlikeable in their own ways, but you spend the majority of the book trying to piece together their pasts and whether it plays into the current situation. It seems everyone has their own secrets and the author toys with the reader because you really don’t want to like them, but you can’t help but feel for them at the same time. If you like a good story told from several points of view with a lot of twists and turns, then this is one you should put on your reading list.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: A.A. Chaudhuri

Series: N/A

Publisher: Hera

Publication Date: June 23, 2022

Pages: 341

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Bridesmaids by Victoria Jenkins

Description (from cover): “Holly is getting married, but not before a celebration weekend with her closest friends. After a night of arguments, a body is found floating in the swimming pool of their secluded cottage. Holly must fact up to the truth–one of her bridesmaids is a killer, but which one?

New beginnings. Old rivalries.

Best friends. Bad blood.

Five bridesmaids. One body.

Fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and The Wife Between Us will love this pulse-racing psychological thriller. Once you start reading, you will not be able to stop!”

My Thoughts:

Holly is going on her “hen” weekend for her upcoming wedding. Five of her friends will be joining her at a secluded cottage with all of the latest amenities to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. Holly is excited to be spending some time away from wedding planning to catch up with her friends. What she doesn’t realize is that every single one of her friends has a secret and it appears that all the secrets will come out this weekend. Friends will become enemies, lies that have been covered for years will make their way to the surface and at the end of the weekend someone will be dead. So much for a relaxing and fun weekend.

This book is told through the narratives of the different characters involved in the story. I really enjoyed how the author used each of the characters and their own secrets to evolve this story. It seems everyone is not who they would appear to be and there were a lot of exciting revelations throughout this book. This was a fun read and while a little overwhelming at times trying to keep up with everyone and their secrets, I found it to be a quick and enjoyable mystery read. I was left wondering who was going to end up dead until the very end and it was a little shocking as I totally did not see that coming.

Overall, this was a great psychological murder mystery where the reader is trying to figure out the mystery when every single character has the motive and opportunity for murder. The ending wasn’t wrapped up in a tidy little bow, but such is life and the author did a great job of making the ending realistic based on the story. I really connected with a few of characters while reading this book, but by the end I really didn’t like any of them, but that was the clear intention of the author. This book really makes you think about whether you really know the people you are friends with and what secrets are they keeping in the dark?

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Victoria Jenkins

Series: N/A

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 23, 2022

Pages: 275

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

Description (from cover): “Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswold village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for…the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.

With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village–from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.

Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect…drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia–newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper–despairs at ever solving the murders.

But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wife, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?”

My Thoughts:

This book really reminds me of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton. This book takes place in the Cotswolds just like Agatha Raisin and well the Cotswolds seems to be such a lovely place. I have always wanted to visit there and I love it when I can read a mystery that is set in such an idyllic place. I adore the small English village murder mystery as they seem so relatable for some reason. The small town where everyone knows their neighbors and gossip runs abound seem to always get my attention. In this book, newly single Julia Bird has left London to start a new life in Berrywick after retirement. Not much information is given about Julia’s mysterious past and why she left her job as a social worker, but I am hoping that the author expands a little on this back story in the upcoming books in this series. There seems to be a hint of a story there, but the author decided not to give too much away in this book.

Julia is new to Berrywick and quickly sets about exploring her new village. She meets some new friends and adopts a Labrador puppy. She befriends the local contractor and sets about tearing down an old shed on her property to build a chicken coop. During this process, a body is found and it appears that the body has been there for many years. No one in the town remembers anyone missing and they have no clue who could have been murdered. Julia is determined to find out who the body belongs to and why they were buried under a shed on her own property. When Julia stumbles across two more bodies during her investigation, she becomes concerned that her new idyllic village might not be as peaceful as she hoped.

I really enjoyed reading this book and thought that the author did a great job of setting the scene of a small village and village life. I felt the ending was a little rushed, but overall this was a great quick read and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it prior to the publication date. If you love Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders, Hamish Macbeth, and like series, this is probably a new series you do not want to miss. Julia’s character is hard not to like and I am curious to see what trouble she finds herself in moving forward with the series and how her new life in Berrywick plays out.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Katie Gayle

Series: Julia Bird Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Pages: 262

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Traitor in the Ice by K. J. Maitland

Description (from cover): “Winter, 1607. A man is struck down in the grounds of Battle Abbey, Sussex. Before dawn breaks, he is dead.

Home to the Montagues, Battle has caught the paranoid eye of King James. The Catholic household is rumoured to shelter those loyal to the Pope, disguising them as servants within the abbey walls. And the last man sent to expose them was silenced before his report could reach London.

Daniel Pursglove is summoned to infiltrate Battle and find proof of treachery. He soon discovers that nearly everyone at the abbey has something to hide–for deeds far more dangerous than religious dissent. But one lone figure he senses only in the shadows, carefully concealed from the world. Could the notorious traitor Spero Pettingar finally be close at hand?

As more bodies are unearthed, Daniel determines to catch the culprit. But how do you unmask a killer when nobody is who they seem?

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Daniel Pursglove mystery series by K. J. Maitland. I reviewed the first book, The Drowned City, on this blog previously. The problems I had with that book are prevalent in this book as well. The books in this series tend to be long, very descriptive and a little chaotic at times with the switching back and forth between storylines. I will say that I did enjoy this book more than the first book as it was easier to read for me this go around. Nonetheless, the ending left me scratching my head a little bit trying to figure out all of the storylines and what exactly happened. I still am not quite sure.

In this book, we see the return of Daniel Pursglove who has been sent to Battle Abbey to act as a spy. He is told to make himself a part of the household and find out if there are priests being hidden there and whether the residents are attending Mass instead of the required Protestant services. Pursglove quickly avails himself to the household and soon finds himself an integral part of the household. In the small town surrounding the Abbey, there is a creature that has been wreaking havoc on the town at night. Animals are missing or killed, strange noises and fear has been walking the streets at night and the villagers are up in arms.

In the middle of the drama at the Abbey and the hysteria of the small town, Pursglove soon finds himself embroiled in more mysteries than he can handle and he is not sure which one is more dangerous. He has to constantly be on his toes as everyone is not who they seem and there is a murderer lurking in the shadows. This book was a better read than the first one, however I struggled to understand what was happening at times and I felt the ending didn’t really conclude the mysteries.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: K. J. Maitland

Series: Daniel Pursglove Mystery #2

Publisher: Headline Review

Publication Date: March 31, 2022

Pages: 461

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives by Rick Bleiweiss

Description (from cover): “The year is 1910, and in the small and seemingly sleepy English municipality of Haxford, there’s a new chief police inspector. At first, the dapper and unflappable Pignon Scorbion strikes something of an odd figure among the locals, who don’t see a need for such an exacting investigator. But it isn’t long before Haxford finds itself very much in need of a detective.

Luckily, Scorbion and the local barber are old acquaintances, and the barbershop employs a cast of memorable characters who–together with an aspiring young ace reporter for the local Morning News–are nothing less than enthralled by the enigmatic new chief police inspector.

Investigating a trio of crimes whose origins span three continents and half a century, Pignon Scorbion and his “tonsorial sleuths” interview a parade of interested parties, but with every apparent clue, new surprises come to light. And just as it seems nothing can derail Scorbion’s cool head and almost unerring nose for deduction, in walks Thelma Smith–dazzling, whip-smart, and newly single.

Has Pignon Scorbion finally met his match?

For fans of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, author Rick Bleiweiss’s quirky new detective and ensemble cast of characters set against the backdrop of small-town England in the 1910s will feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new.”

My Thoughts:

I was offered the chance to review this book by the publisher through NetGalley and I jumped at the chance to read it. This is a new series set in 1910 in England in a small town where it seems crime never happens. When a new police inspector, Pignon Scorbion, arrives in town, everyone is surprised by his demeanor and his attention to looking fashionable at all times and his strange name. He is not like their last police inspector and they are suspicious of him and whether he can bring any value to the village. Quickly, however, Pignon Scorbion, shows the small town what he is capable of in regards to solving mysteries and uses his friends at the local barbershop to help him investigate three crimes that have recently occurred in Haxford.

The concept of this book is very good. I am not quite sure why the author decided to have Scorbion conduct all of his investigations in the local barbershop and not the police station, but it is what it is. That really didn’t make a lot of sense to me and while it did bring some added value to the book, it left me a little confused as to why this would have been done. I guess you just have to roll with it. I did like the characters in the book and liked how there were three separate mysteries to solve in this book.

While I was not overly impressed with this book, I did still have a good time reading it. I liked the characters and would read the next book in the series to see if there is some character development. There was a teaser for the second book at the end of this one, but I never read them so I am assuming the next book will be forthcoming in the next year or so. If you like to read mysteries that are short, to the point and are quite whimsical, this might be a book you might want to look into.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Rick Bleiweiss

Series: Pignon Scorbion Mystery #1

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Drowned City by K. J. Maitland

Description (from cover): “Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this masterful historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood and Sugar.

1606. England stands divided in the wake of the failed Gunpowder Plot. As a devastating tidal wave sweeps the Bristol Channel, rumours of new treachery reach the King.

In Newgate prison, Daniel Pursglove receives an unexpected–and dangerous–offer. Charles FitzAlan, close confidant of King James, will grant his freedom–if Daniel can infiltrate the underground Catholic network in Bristol and unmask the one conspirator still at large.

Where better to hide a traitor than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel goes to Bristol to investigate, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy–and in pursuit of a killer.”

My Thoughts:

This book is set in the 1600’s in Bristol in an England that is deeply divided between the Protestants and Catholics. King James I is on the throne and this story takes place a year after the Gunpowder Plot was foiled. James is terrified of assassination and sees death in everything and is very superstitious. He is paranoid and determined to prevent any Catholic uprisings in his Protestant England. Daniel Pursglove is in prison and is offered the chance of a pardon if he seeks out a missing conspirator from the Gunpowder Plot.

Rumor has it that the missing man is in Bristol, which has just been devastated by a tidal wave that killed hundreds and destroyed many homes and businesses. Daniel travels from London to Bristol to seek out the missing man and bring him to justice at the cost of his own freedom. If he is successful he won’t have to return to prison and will be a free man; if not, he faces torture and death. Daniel makes connections when he arrives in Bristol and no one is to be trusted.

This book was a long read at 495 pages. At times, I felt the writer used too many descriptive details and could have condensed the story somewhat. Overall this was a good read and a fantastic debut to this new historical mystery series. I loved the setting as it has been quite some time since I have read anything in this time period. The superstitions and the unrest during this time really shows throughout this book and the author did a wonderful job of researching the time period. The book did seem tedious in some areas, but overall, I found this to be a quite engaging read and I am excited to read the next book in this series.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: K. J. Maitland

Series: Daniel Pursglove Mystery #1

Publisher: Headline Review

Publication Date: April 1, 2021

Pages: 495

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: A Most Efficient Murder by Anthony Slayton

Description (from cover): “When the reclusive Earl of Unsworth’s first party in over a decade is spoiled by murder, his Lordship’s loyal and efficient secretary, Mr. Quayle, must unravel a web of red-herrings and old family secrets before the murderer can strike again…

I do not wish to disturb you, your grace, but there is a body in the garden…

England, 1925. When a strange young women is found murdered on the grounds of Unsworth Castle, the Duke and his family are astounded at first, but quickly become enraged when the police begin asking all sorts of impertinent questions.

And when suspicions dare to fall on one of their own, it is up to Mr. Quayle, Lord Unsworth’s exceedingly efficient secretary, to find the true culprit and save the House of Unsworth from scandal and ruin.

My Thoughts:

There is nothing like a British estate murder mystery. For some reason, the British have really nailed this concept like no other and I always find myself drawn to books like this. In this book Lord Unsworth is hosting a party, his first in ten years, in order to celebrate his collection of familial artefacts and to announce his heir. Not being a very social person, this is a major feat for him and he has invited family and friends from far and wide to attend this party. When a guest turns up murdered in the estate’s gardens and no one knows who the young woman is, it appears that sinister things are afoot. Lord Unsworth asks his secretary, Mr. Quayle, to assist the police in the murder investigation on behalf of the family. Mr. Quayle soon finds himself embroiled in the middle of accusations and trying to keep the family’s good name out of the society scandal columns.

I really enjoyed reading this book as I always love a murder mystery set in a grand English house where society comes into play and there are a onslaught of suspects. The author did not disappoint in this regard as there were plenty of suspects and motives for the murder and everyone appears to have secrets. Who exactly wanted this unknown woman dead and who had the means, motive and opportunity to dispose of her body in the estate’s gardens? These are the questions that Mr. Quayle must find out and with the help of the police and their own investigations, Mr. Quayle is determined to find out the solution to the mystery at any and all costs, even if it means losing his job.

It is my understanding that this is the first book in the Mr. Quayle murder mystery series, however, at the end of the book, there was a link to a free copy of a previous publication featuring Mr. Quayle. That book is titled A Quite Deadly Affair and it predates this novel. I am not sure why that book is not considered the first in this series and I have not yet had a chance to read it, but it apparently provides Mr. Quayle’s background as to how he ended up working for Lord Unsworth. I am not sure if it is a full novel or a novella, but I am curious to see if anyone else knows. Nevertheless, this book was a delightful read and I will certainly be looking more from this author in the future. Also, this book is currently listed for preorder at $3.99 for a kindle e-book on Amazon if you want to snag a copy.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Anthony Slayton

Series: Mr. Quayle Mystery #1

Publisher: N/A

Publication Date: April 3, 2022

Pages: 309

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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.