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Book review: The Appeal by Janice Hallett gives sleuths a good puzzle


The Appeal

By Janice Hallett

Simon and Schuster


I enjoyed every minute of this murder mystery, which contains no narrative, but instead consists of a series of emails, work memos and WhatsApp messages.

It begins with a note from the boss – Roderick Tanner, a lawyer – to two newbie lawyers, asking them to take a look at gathered evidence and see what they conclude about a murder.

From there, readers are given a behind-the-scenes look at The Fairway Players, a local theatre group dominated by one family, which is in rehearsals for their latest play when a related child is diagnosed with a brain tumour. The group begins fundraising for an experimental treatment. Before opening night, one character will be murdered. Figuring out whodunnit is up to the reader, and the two lawyers.

British author Janice Hallett knows how to move a plot along, developing her characters through only their written words. Hallett lives in London and is a former magazine editor, journalist and government communications writer. This 2021 book is her first novel, but she’s already followed it up with another, The Twyford Code, which will be released in January in North America.

I loved puzzling along with the two young lawyers as I made my way through the story, getting to know the posh family at the heart of the mystery, the social outcast who is desperately trying to fit in, the outspoken nurse who had to leave Africa under mysterious circumstances and the assertive young organizer who takes charge of the fundraising appeal. I think you’ll enjoy it too.

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