Book Reviews

Find the Needle in the Haystack: #TheAppeal by Janice Hallett @JaniceHallett @ViperBooks #bookreview #5stars

Title: The Appeal
Author: Janice Hallett
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Date of Publication: January 14th 2021
Format reviewed: NetGalley ARC
Number of pages: 432

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

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death. Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed. Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered.

Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

Meggy to Herself
Everything in The Appeal screams masterpiece.

Herself to Meggy
That is not a review. Build your case!

From to

Police procedurals follow their own rules. Whodunnits wander dark paths. Legal thrillers create mazes you get lost in. Cozy mysteries walk cobbled streets.

And then you have The Appeal. Although it belongs to the crime fiction genre, I had never read anything like it. Weird for someone who has been devouring murder stories for years!

Herself to Meggy
You’ve confirmed you know what you are talking about. Now get to the point!

Meggy to Herself
No need to rush things!!!!

Herself to Meggy
If I don’t, you’ll babble for another half hour. WHY DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK?

From to

The book reads like a game. You stand at the start line and get a brief idea of what you’re going to face. Your trainer only gives you the basics. Read the documents. Find the truths and lies hidden in them. And so it begins.

Let’s talk about the format. Formats, should I say. The Appeal is made up of bits and snippets. Emails, WhatsApp conversations, messages, articles. Miscellaneous documents revolving around a group of people, a play, and a sick child. If the idea sounds brilliant, it takes one grain of sand to turn it into a mess. Thankfully, the author’s flair and skill deliver one of the best narrations I have ever read.

Some things are very clear from the start: a solicitor has tasked two of his assistants to dig into a case to find evidence that the woman convicted of a murder did not do it. Crystal clear and yet so intricate…

Herself to Meggy
You and your suspense…

Meggy to Herself
Leave me alone, I can’t help it if I like to play with my reviews when a book has inspired me!

Herself to Meggy
As long as you don’t bore the world to death…

Twitter @RousselMeggy
When your inner voice won’t shut up and you really don’t need it to finish a review… Too bad you can’t strangle it!

From to

You don’t know who is in jail. You don’t know who died. But you meet a mixed cast of characters through their correspondence. Reading all the emails and texts, I realize just how many bits of ourselves we put out there, but also how easy it is to build an idea or opinion on words without having the full context surrounding them. The result is scary. So, I trode carefully from one email to the other, from one phone to the other, memorizing names and places. The author forced me to stay alert and scrutinize everything. EVERYTHING.

An amateur drama club is planning their next play. Little Poppy gets sick. A cure is available, but money is needed. Everyone gets involved, even the newly arrived in town: Sam and Kel. Who wouldn’t want to help a kid get better?

Despite all the good intentions floating on the surface, it soon appears that something is off.

Instagram DM
Herself to Meggy
Don’t forget to get personal. No one wants a scientific analysis of the book. Not that you could write one, ha!

From to

I could not put my finger on what sounded wrong, but the book oozed real disturbing vibes. It was as if I was looking at the surface of the water, could see small waves, but was unable to catch a glimpse of what created them.

I had the fleeting worry that getting to know characters through their own words, or the words of others about them would create a distance between them and me, but it only lured me in, reeled me in, hooked me until I was swiftly turning the pages to get the next gossip, the next news, the next bomb. I had to remember to be careful, as each piece had been carefully worded. I simply adored trying to decipher what was hidden between the lines. One step forward, two steps back. I assessed and categorized. I put names on Good Guys and Bad Guys lists, with a grey route in between.

It was fascinating to learn about everything that was happening through broken messages. Have you ever lied in an email? I know I have, so could I trust what I was reading??

I felt a push as the events unraveled and the big dramatic end of a protagonist came and raised even more questions. More information was thrown at me, and they forced me to re-evaluate what I thought I’d worked out! It was invigorating to be part of the digging team and follow a team of law professionals try to reach conclusions that don’t appear at first glance.

Meggy to Herself
Dinner break. Need food.

Herself to Meggy
Weak. What about the plot?! The ending? The writing?

Twitter @RousselMeggy
Does your brain have a swich off button? I’m looking for mine!

From to

As I said earlier, the narration is unique, and exceptionally wrought by Janice Hallett, who kept me guessing until the very end. The plot and its subplots are more than enough to give any reader a fantastic time. When the pieces begin to fall into place, the clouds disappear, but not without shaking some of the ideas I had! I wish I could unpick the full play with you, but where would be the fun in that? Simply trust me when I say you’re in good hands! I took up the challenge and I am so glad I did!

If it can be difficult to tell a character’s voice from another with certain books, this is not the case here. Like the narration, everyone is unique, everyone has a tone, a clear image (a mask or a genuine face?) and I never mixed up anyone by mistake. I did have my preferences, but again had to be careful not to be misled by what I was reading. After all, words can trick you!

Herself to Meggy
This is getting too long.

Meggy to Herself:
I can talk about The Appeal FOREVER.

Herself to Meggy
For the sake of your fellow readers, don’t.

Meggy to Herself

From to

In brief, The Appeal is beautifully executed, perfect to forget the world for a few hours as you get immersed in the world of amateur plays and fundraising… If you enjoy complex novels powered by a cracking characterization and enough red herrings to lose a kid in the forest, you’re in for the best read of your year with this one!

Herself to Meggy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Pre-order your copy! Release date is JANUARY 14th!


Thank you to the great Viper Books Team for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

26 thoughts on “Find the Needle in the Haystack: #TheAppeal by Janice Hallett @JaniceHallett @ViperBooks #bookreview #5stars”

  1. I LOVE this review Meggy. Your conversations with yourself 🤣 but I completely agree with what you’ve said. It does feel like a game.
    I do feel like the way the information is presented makes it more engaging because it keeps bringing up so many questions


  2. Outstanding! You out did yourself with this absolutely brilliantly clever review. You had me grinning from ear to ear, and now, I so have to read this damn book for myself. You’re killing my TBR pile, you know that!


  3. Waw! Well I don’t know if this unique narration is something for me but I do love investigating things myself, it doesn’t always have to be super obvious from the start so this does intrigue me! You’re off to a great start in January.. brilliant review! xx


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