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.

Review: Hounded by David Rosenfelt

Description (from cover): “Andy Carpenter isn’t sure what to think when he gets a mysterious phone call from a good friend, policeman Pete Stanton, asking him to drop everything, drive to an unfamiliar address, and bring his girlfriend, Laurie Collins. He certainly isn’t expecting to show up at a crime scene. But that’s exactly where he arrives–at the house where Pete has just discovered the body of ex-convict Danny Diaz. Upstairs are Danny’s now orphaned eight-year-old son and basset hound. And that, Andy discovers, is why he and Laurie were called to the scene–Pete wants them to take care of the boy and the dog so they won’t get thrown into the “system.” This is already asking a lot, but soon Pete needs another big favor from Andy. Pete himself has come under suspicion for Danny’s murder, and he needs defense attorney Andy to represent him…and to find out what really happened in Danny’s house that day.

David Rosenfelt has done it again. Told with his characteristic humor and wit, Hounded is at once a heartfelt story about family and a page-turning legal thriller.”

My Thoughts:

I found the first book in this series quite by accident. I was scrolling through books that were available at my library and came across this series. This series is a little different from what I normally read, but give me a book with twists and turns, courtroom drama and dogs and I will be all over it. I am a paralegal by day and a book blogger by night, so combining my knowledge of the legal system and my love of mysteries in a book was sure to catch my interest. Andy Carpenter is a small town criminal attorney in Patterson, New Jersey. He is sarcastic, he is smart, he is conniving and best of all, he loves dogs. All of the books in this series are full of surprises and you never know what to expect next. Andy must use his legal training and his smarts to help solve impossible cases where the Defendant appears to be nothing but guilty. Somehow, some way, Andy Carpenter always saves the day, but he is constantly going up against the clock to prove his clients’ innocence.

This book is the twelfth book in this series. As you can tell, I have stuck with this one with no complaints. I always know that when I read one of Rosenfelt’s books, I will not be disappointed. I literally read this book in one day as I could not put it down. Andy is a character who I have come to love throughout the series. In this book, Andy’s friend policeman Pete Stanton, who has long been a character in this series, calls him one night and requests that Andy and his girlfriend, Laurie, meet him at a murder scene. When they get there, Pete tells Andy that he must take the murder victim’s eight-year-old son and dog in for safety reasons. Andy reluctantly does so but does so for his friend Pete. Andy comes to find out later that Pete is the number one suspect in the victim’s murder and is arrested for the crime. This time the case is personal when it is one of Andy’s friends who faces life in prison. Andy knows his friend is not guilty of the crime he is charged with, yet all the evidence is stacked high against him.

Sometimes I like to switch it up a little bit and read something a little different. While this is still a mystery, it is a little different from what I normally read as it is not historical or cozy. Nevertheless, this is still one of my favorite series. I love how the author uses Andy’s sarcasm and connections with criminals, the mafia, and somewhat seedy characters to prove his clients’ cases in the courtroom. Nothing is too big or too small for Andy Carpenter. I have waitlisted the next book in this series, Who Let the Dog Out?, from the library and cannot wait to read it to see what Andy does next as there is no telling what trouble he will find himself in next. Another fantastic read by David Rosenfelt in what is coming to be one of my favorite mystery series.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: David Rosenfelt

Series: Andy Carpenter Mystery #12

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Pages: 320

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.