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The Appeal by Janice Hallett - Review

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

I've heard quite a bit of buzz about this book and got intrigued so I bought it. I had heard that it's about a murder, and the reader can read between the lines and solve the murder. I didn't manage to do that, but I did pick up on some things which I was pleased about later. It's a really novel way to write a book as it's all told in emails/texts/other correspondence, and a lot of it is one sided, so you don't hear at all from certain people, but lots from others.

So there is a woman called Issy, who is a nurse, and who is in an amateur dramatics group called The Fairway Players in her spare time. A new woman called Sam has started working with her, and Issy encourages her and her husband Kel to join the theatre group as a way to make friends and get known in the area. They do join, and both get parts in the new play, and Issy offers to go through lines etc with them. She's a very clingy friend and it's hard to like her, even if I did feel sorry for her. 

Then there are the Haywoods. Martin is the group's director, and his wife Helen nearly always plays the leading lady in the shows. They have two grown up children, Paige and James. James and his wife Olivia are expecting twins. Paige has a little girl called Poppy, and she is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. She begins chemo at a local hospital, under the auspices of a doctor whose name I can't remember. But she needs pioneering treatment from the United States, so the Haywoods begin fundraising for the £250,000 they need for the first round of treatment. Another of the theatre group, Sarah-Jane, heads up the fundraising campaigns. She has little time for Issy's clinginess, and wants the Haywoods to be left alone so they can all focus on Poppy.

However, several people are being very underhanded. Sam gets suspicious of the appeal, wondering if all the money is being used for Poppy and if Poppy even needs it at all. Poppy's doctor is already known to Sam, because Sam used to work with her brother on aid work in Africa, and something happened there that made Sam leave Africa. The doctor is now looking for her brother, while also telling Martin that she needs the money for Poppy's treatment immediately. There are also people trying to scam others. There's a lot of information!

The book starts with all the correspondence being given by a QC to two law students, Femi and Charlotte, with the information that a) someone is dead, b) someone is in custody for it and c) the QC doesn't believe this person committed the murder, and can Femi and Charlotte see who did commit it? He later adds some more info which I won't share but which does give the reader further insight into all the correspondents. We see Femi and Charlotte's conversations too, which steer the reader in certain directions. You don't find out who has died until over two thirds of the way through the book! 

I did like it a lot, I thought it was a really interesting way to write a book. I'm giving it four out of five and I'll definitely read Janice Hallett's other book soon! 

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