READALONG: The Appeal by Janice Hallett

“Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth? Do you dare?”

Set to be released on 14th January 2021, The Appeal by Janice Hallett tells a story through a series of documents – including emails, texts, and letters – relating to the events surrounding the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons, and the tragic death of one of its members. Another member is currently in prison for the crime. As the reader, it is your job to read through these documents to see if the killer has given themselves away. Will you accept the challenge? Can you predict correctly and save someone for being wrongly imprisoned?

Rating:

The Appeal is unlike anything you will have read before. Instead of telling a story through a straightforward narrative that doesn’t allow much time for you to think about where it’s heading before it gets there, Janice Hallett encourages you to play detective and attempt to piece together a fragmented series of letters, emails, and instant messages to see if you can predict its conclusions.

Told through a collection of documents rather than in a story format, it took me a while to find my pace with this book at the start as I was thinking too much about what I should be looking out for. But once I got stuck into it properly, my mind started racing and the theories started pouring in. Soon enough, I didn’t want to put it down.

And although there isn’t a detailed narrative to help you relate to the characters, the selection of conversations still allows you to get to know them all in-depth. You can see their individual personalities through their communication skills, begin to understand their motives through how they talk about each other when not face-to-face, and start to piece together their backgrounds through various rumours and gossip. While I didn’t like many of the characters in the beginning, I soon started to figure out who to trust and who to question, so finding where your loyalties lie really gets you to engage more.

I buddy read this book with Sarah and we had so much fun trying to figure it all out together. There were some things that we pieced together and we also had many far-out theories that were getting close to the truth, but there was still so much that shocked us at the same time, leaving us gasping for breath in the closing pages. What I loved most is that, just like an Agatha Christie novel, you can see it all there quite obviously when you look back on it. We were certainly both super impressed.

As such an interactive book, I really recommend you grab a friend a read this with them to get properly stuck into it. But even if you read it on your own, it will really get your brain ticking and your heart racing. This is definitely a book that I’m going to be thinking about for a long time.

And if you haven’t watched The Retreat which Janice co-wrote, go give it a watch. It’s such an under-appreciated sci-fi film with a brilliant cast.

Thank you to Viper for the opportunity to join in their readalong this book and to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had so much fun buddy reading this with Sarah. We read the book over three days and took our time to try and figure out what was going on. One thing’s for certain is that we both loved it.

Here are some screenshots of our conversations:

Details:

The Appeal by Janice Hallett
Release Date: 14th January 2021
Print Length: 432 pages
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Viper

Synopsis:

Someone was murdered.
Someone went to prison.
And everyone’s a suspect.
Can you uncover the truth?

Dear Reader,
Enclosed are documents relating to the events surrounding the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons, and the tragic death of one of its members. Another member is currently in prison for the crime. We have reason to suspect that they are innocent and that there were far darker secrets that have yet to be revealed. We believe that the killer has given themselves away.
It’s there in writing, hidden in the emails, texts, and letters. In the events surrounding the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick, and the question of whether that money was truly being used to fund her life-saving cancer treatment.
Will you accept the challenge?
Can you uncover the truth? Do you dare?
The Appeal by Janice Hallett is the standout debut thriller of 2021 in which the reader is challenged to solve the crime… and predict the victim. With the small-town intrigue of The Casual Vacancy and the deft plotting of Agatha Christie, it will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.

About the author:

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government speechwriter. She co-wrote the psychological thriller feature film The Retreat (starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell) with director Carl Tibbetts. She’s now a full-time writer of fiction in various forms, with several plays produced and scripts in development. The Appeal is her first novel.

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