Tuesday 28 September 2021

Book Review | The Appeal by Janice Hallett | prettylittlewriter

An incredibly interesting read with some well-developed characters.

'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 Fiaryway 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.'

I went into this novel so confident that I would solve it and it would be a piece of cake. Boy was I wrong!

Janice has written an incredibly clever novel, allowing us as the reader, to try and solve the murder of a resident in Lockwood. There are two characters within, Femi and Charlotte, that have been tasked with solving the murder themselves by their boss, the solicitor for the person that has been wrongly committed of said murder. Everything that we read, is the correspondence between residents of the town that Femi and Charlotte have been given, so we get to solve it alongside them.

The novel is well set out, with clear headers for whom the correspondence was from and to, along with dates. I also liked that we got little snippets of What's App conversations from Femi and Charlotte, as they discussed what they/we had read, as these conversations are what give you hints as to what to look for within the correspondence to solve it.

It is quite a complex plot, with numerous characters and timescales that you have to get used to as you read, and a lot of the characters are actually quite unlikeable. I took an immediate dislike to Isabel, as I found her annoying and self-absorbed. Constantly trying to force herself on others to create friendships, which they clearly didn't want.
It is incredibly well written, with interesting and well-developed characters, which is a feat in itself as it is all done via emails/texts.
I also found it very clever how there were certain characters that weren't who we believed them to be, or even be at all.

There were some very solemn parts within the novel, especially surrounding Poppy and her illness. Cancer is a tough subject under normal circumstances, never mind when fraud/family drama is also brought into it.

The novel clearly showcases the issues of social hierarchy and how in a lot of tight knit communities, there will be an 'alpha' family; one that the rest will do anything to please. 

Janice threw us some misdirection's within the book, which is why I found it difficult myself to actually figure out who had committed the crime. I ended up not trying to solve it myself, and just going with the flow of it, looking forward to seeing how Femi and Charlotte came to their conclusions.

Overall, I found this novel compelling, complex and highly original, something I haven't seen done before, so I am thoroughly impressed!

4/5 stars

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