Synopsis from Simon & Schuster:
Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell, this “dazzlingly clever” (The Sunday Times) murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.
The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.
But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.
About: The Appeal is a mystery thriller written by Janice Hallett. It will be published on 1/25/2022 by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, paperback, 432 pages. The genres are mystery thriller, adult fiction, and contemporary. This book is the author’s debut. According to the publisher’s website, “founded in 2002, Atria was from the start intended to be an environment where new ideas could flourish, the best writers of fiction and nonfiction could thrive and connect with an ever-widening readership, and the best practices of traditional publishing could be integrated with cutting-edge developments in the digital world. In short, a place where great books could come to light.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading The Appeal on 1/1/2022 and finished it on 1/12/2022 at 2am. A fantastic read, this book showed people in their genuine forms. There definitely were many kinds of people and I’m glad to know which ones I should stay away from. I liked how the author portrayed Martin and his family. Irritated as I am that they are wealthy enough to pay for many expenses their family needed but they preferred to take time and money from sympathetic friends. I almost felt bad for Sarah-Jane to be taken advantage of by Martin’s family but she’s bad too because she wanted free service from the band instead of reduce priced when the guy said the band have their own family to support. She had passion in helping, yes, but she should have realized that she’s helping a wealthy family who don’t need so much help as compared to the poor. The email format is good because readers can see how people truly were. Isabel was interesting to follow but hopefully I will never meet one like her in real life! I liked Sam’s character for wanting to know the truth and tell the truth. The consequences of the truth has a price and I liked how Kel explained it. There were a bit too many characters to keep up with so the list of characters at the beginning of the story helped. Some good humor in this story!
This book started with a letter from a lawyer to two people asking them to read through email documents. Then there’s a letter of recommendation for Samantha for the nurse position. She had been volunteering in Africa. This new job Sam will be working at St. Ann’s at an Elderly Care unit. Then the story began with Isabel, 29. She communicated with many characters via email wanting to help Sam and her husband Kel get a part in the community play. Later when the roles were casted, Isabel wasn’t chosen for any of the characters. She appeared fine and even bought a copy of the script to help Sam and her husband study their lines. Then Martin, 59, chairman of the play and owner of a country club announced to the theatre team that his granddaughter Poppy, 2 was diagnosed with cancer. He will step down as director and his son James. 36, will take his place. James gave Isabel a role because Poppy’s mom Paige had to pull out to care for her daughter. The appeal is then set up asking donations for a total of $350k to buy the cancer medicine for Poppy. This story was organized by emails, messaging, and interview transcripts.
The Appeal was well written. I enjoyed the mystery, suspense, and analysis of the characters and who murdered the victim. The reveal was good. I liked that all of the characters were out there in the open. Most stories I read, the killer barely appeared in the story at all. I couldn’t guess who the killer was but I had fun guessing. This book felt like a lengthy read. There were some long emails and repeated discussions of who would do the murder and who knew ahead of time that was a bit slow to get through. Reading this book helped me realize how dislike I am of being in a forced situation. A close knit community where everyone kiss up to the owner because that’s where they work and therefore they were obligated to help donate their time and money. Then there’s no anonymity at all because if you can’t contribute to the cause you became a black swan. I don’t think there’s any good people in this book and I’m glad to have read it so that I can be aware. Overall, an excellent debut and I recommend everyone to read it.
I rate it 4.5 stars!
About the Author:
Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and cowrote the feature film Retreat. The Appeal is her first novel. (Photo and info obtained from Simon & Schuster’s website).
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***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Atria Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.