Friday 30 October 2020

The Appeal - Janice Hallett



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?

What did I think?

Wow, just wow!  The Appeal is written in the most original format I have ever read and it's such an addictive read that I was loathe to put it down even for a moment.  Janice Hallett's exceptional debut novel doesn't just immerse the reader in the story but consumes them.  I didn't feel like I was reading a book; I actually believed I was part of the legal team reading through the evidence - what an amazing experience!

Written in the format of emails from various sources, it may take a little while to get used to, especially as you try to remember who is who.  Thankfully, most of the characters are part of a theatre group and the cast list for their latest production is an invaluable reference, especially with little post it notes attached showing the links between people.  Although there are a lot of characters, I was surprised how quickly I got to know them through the individual characteristics and tone of their emails.

I think there's something so very personal about reading emails, especially when you see things from all sides.  People just can't help bitching about other people and I felt really sorry for Issy who is desperately trying to fit in.  Reading what people thought about her and comparing this to how Issy related the same occasion to her friend was simultaneously sobering and shocking.  The characters in The Appeal aren't just two faced, they are diamond geezers; they are so multi-faceted that it's impossible to work out who you can trust.  

At the heart of The Appeal is the story of Poppy Reswick who has been diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer.  As Poppy's grandparents are the alpha family who run the theatre group, the group all pitch in to raise funds so that Poppy can receive treatment that the hospital can't provide.  Issy taking the minutes for the fundraising meeting is absolute genius; it made me laugh out loud and I'm still laughing now just thinking about it.  

The Appeal is absolutely brilliant; it's an inventive and unique format that makes the reader feel like they're part of the story as they sift through the emails searching for clues.  It is SO addictive; once you start reading the emails you simply can't stop, so make sure your chores are done before you start The Appeal as there'll be no housework getting done until the final page is turned.

I really can't thank Viper enough for sending me a gifted proof of what is sure to be one of the hottest debuts of 2021; this is my honest review and all opinions are my own.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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