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The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett - Review

Sunday, December 17, 2023

I got this book - which is a sequel to The Appeal - on Kindle and wanted to read it close to Christmas, as it's about a Christmas pantomime so it's definitely festive! It's a novella, so didn't take me too long to read at all. It's been described as The Appeal 1.5 which makes a lot of sense. If you like that book you would definitely like this, I think, but also if you hadn't read the appeal you would probably understand everything in this book and would still enjoy it. 

The book is told in emails and text messages, like the first one. We're back with the Fairway Players as in the first book. The Haywards have clearly gone, and the land their house was on is now a fancy new housing estate. There is also a new council housing estate on the other side of town, which not all the Players are happy about. Sarah-Jane and her husband Kevin have been voted the co chairs of the theatre group, but Celia and Joel Halliday wish they were top dogs and Celia has passive aggession down to a fine art. The Walfords - Joyce and her sons, since her husband's death - are still around, as are the Paynes. I actually don't remember too much about the Paynes but it feels like everyone looks down on them because Karen 'only' works in Sainsburys. There are a few other people I recognised, but there's some new players too. There's a youngish single man who joins, and a couple who auditioned for the play but who never turn up. They live in one of the new posh houses and everyone seems to think it's a bit of a coup that they've joined. 

Every time Sarah-Jane sends an email it's immediately followed up by one from Celia, to undermine her. Then Sarah-Jane announces that she's procurred an actual beanstalk for the pantomime, which was last used thirty years ago and at one point by the Players themselves, but which has been in storage. It needs some upkeep, but then there's a rumour that it contains asbestos! The whole thing becomes a bit of a farce at this point, and it all comes to a head on the night of the panto itself, the 23rd of December. 

As in the book before, a KC has sent information about the case to his students, Femi and Charlotte, to see what they think and what conclusion they would come to about the 'crime' - if there is a crime at all. We see their discussions between themselves and with Roger, too. It's interesting, but I'm not sure their discussions really went far enough for me. 

I did enjoy the story but I felt there were too many red herrings and random stuff shoved in, and not really enough resolution. In all I'm giving this three out of five. 

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