THE SUNDAY TIMES CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR
WINNER OF THE 2022 CWA JOHN CREASEY NEW BLOOD DAGGER
ONE MURDER. FIFTEEN SUSPECTS. CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?
There is a mystery to solve in the sleepy town of Lower Lockwood. It starts with the arrival of two secretive newcomers, and ends with a tragic death. Roderick Tanner QC has assigned law students Charlotte and Femi to the case. Someone has already been sent to prison for murder, but he suspects that they are innocent. And that far darker secrets have yet to be revealed…
Throughout the amateur dramatics society’s disastrous staging of All My Sons and the shady charity appeal for a little girl’s medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. The evidence is all there, waiting to be found. But will Charlotte and Femi solve the case? Will you?
‘Agatha Christie for the 21st century’ THE TIMES
‘Witty, clever and completely addictive’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘Gripping, ambitious and unusual’ SOPHIE HANNAH
Book Information: Print length: 432 pages. Publisher: Viper. Publication Date: 14 Jan 2021
Janice Hallett is the author of three best-selling novels. Her debut, The Appeal, was awarded the CWA Debut Dagger of 2021 and was a Sunday Times’ Bestseller, Waterstones’ Thriller of the Month and Sunday Times’ Crime Book of the Month. Her second novel The Twyford Code was named Crime & Thriller Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2023. It was also a Sunday Times’ Bestseller and a Financial Times book of the year. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels was an instant Times and Sunday Times bestseller on its launch in January 2023.
The Christmas Appeal, a fast, fun and festive novella, was launched in October 2023.
Janice is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. As a playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat.
I know, I’m late to the Hallett party.. and almost everyone I know has already read The Appeal, but one of the problems with a kindle is you buy the book when it is published (January 2021) and then you buy another book and another book and before you know it, you’ve downloaded 437 other books and The Appeal is now neglected on page 49 on your kindle. It was only having seen Janice talk at Capital Crime in September that I made a conscious decision to move it to the top of my reading pile and I am so glad I did.
So for the few crime fiction readers who haven’t read The Appeal yet, here are my thoughts:
It’s getting harder and harder to find a crime novel which is not only original, but cleverly plotted, with a very unique twist. The Appeal is told through a large cast of characters via written transcripts taken from emails, texts and written correspondence.
The story starts with two young law students Charlotte and Femi, who have been assigned a case by QC Roderick Tanner. The paperwork and casefiles have been sent over and they need to go through it and discuss once they have finished reading all the evidence.
Set in a small village in the UK in 2018, the book starts with a letter from Médecins Sans Frontières as a reference for Samantha Greenwood a volunteer nurse and from that point on the story is primarily told through emails. I’ve always thought that text often “gets lost in translation”, however within a couple of chapters of The Appeal I was able to visualise the full cast of the book. I was amazed at how quickly I formed an opinion on each character considering I was basing this on a paragraph or two, but that is proof of the skill of Janice Hallet.
This is a thoroughly entertaining whodunnit with a cozy murder mystery feel and clever little clues which I didn’t actually pick up on until towards the end. Due to the short, pacy correspondence, it’s almost impossible to put this book down and I totally understand why The Appeal won so many awards.