Review of ‘The Appeal’ by Janice Hallett

If you’re looking for something really different to read this summer, this is the book for you!

The novel is set in the small town of Lockwood, England, where an amateur dramatics society is attempting to stage a performance of All My Sons. So far, this sounds like the plot of a Midsomer Murder episode, right? Okay, but add into the mix a shady charity appeal for a little girl’s medical treatment, the arrival of two new villagers and the plot begins to get a lot more complex.

But still, you’ll be asking what makes this book so different? Well, the premise of this book is that someone has already been arrested for a murder, and Roderick Tanner QC has assigned law students Charlotte and Femi to the case. He suspects that the suspect may well be innocent, and gives them the job of examining the case with new eyes. We don’t find out , until much later on in the novel, who has been arrested, or indeed who has been murdered. They need to work through the evidence and see if they can solve the case.

Here’s the interesting bit though: this is not your traditional novel – there is no narrative prose as such, but the whole story is presented as a series of emails, text messages, letters, minutes and other written evidence. Just as Charlotte and Femi must use the evidence to piece together the case, so must the reader. I can’t remember the last time I felt so involved in a novel (or used page markers when reading a murder mystery!).

I absolutely loved the fresh approach to the genre and think that it will appeal to both lovers of ‘cosy murders’ – I hate that tag, but you know what I mean! – and those who like innovative texts that make the reader do the work.

The Appeal‘ by Janice Hallett is published by Viper Books. Hallet’s next novel, ‘The Twyford Code’ is due to be published in January 2022, and I can’t wait to read it!

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