The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett – Book Review

The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett – Book Review

The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett

The Christmas Appeal

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One dead Santa. A town full of suspects. Will you discover the truth?

Christmas in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, to raise money for the church roof appeal. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking amongst the amateur dramatics enthusiasts. Sarah-Jane is fending off threats to her new position as Chair, the fibreglass beanstalk might be full of asbestos, and a someone is intent on ruining the panto even before the curtain goes up.

Of course there’s also the matter of the dead body. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they read the round robins, examine the emails and pore over the police transcripts. Will the show go on?

Review by Stacey

The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett is quite an unusual read and not what I was expecting when I opened the book. The whole story has been created using emails, text messages, WhatsApp messages, police transcripts, etc. There are also no chapters.

Luckily this isn’t the first time I have come across a book written this way, I read The Ugly Truth by L.C. North earlier in the year and that has been written the same way. I loved that book so I knew I was in for a real treat.

The plot whilst set at Christmas and heavily featuring an amateur dramatics pantomime isn’t actually that festive, so if you are looking for a book to help you get into the holiday spirit this certainly won’t cut it, however, if you are looking for a mystery with a difference you are in the right place.

The book opens with a letter from Roderick Tanner, KC (King’s Counsel), retired, to two lawyers Femi and Charlotte asking them to look at the case of a body found inside a stage set piece during a pantomime performance. The body is dressed in a Santa costume. He asks the lawyers if they can work out what happened via all the information he has provided them with – The emails, messages, etc and to let him know whodunnit. We, the readers are asked to play along too to see if we can work the case out.

The way the story has been written makes it hard to put down, not only in terms of not having a chapter break to give you a place to end for the day but also by how gripping the story is. I was enthralled by the goings on and it felt like being a fly on the wall watching people constantly bicker, moan, and trying to get one up on another, etc. Totally fascinating and amusing.

The Christmas Appeal is a very clever and refreshing story which not only gave me a thrilling read it also felt like a murder-mystery game where I was tasked with working out all the details. So addictive, so clever, and so witty.

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Janice Hallett

Janice Hallett

Janice Hallett is the author of three best-selling novels. Her debut, The Appeal, was awarded the CWA Debut Dagger of 2021 and was a Sunday Times’ Bestseller, Waterstones’ Thriller of the Month and Sunday Times’ Crime Book of the Month. Her second novel The Twyford Code was named Crime & Thriller Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2023. It was also a Sunday Times’ Bestseller and a Financial Times book of the year. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels was an instant Times and Sunday Times bestseller on its launch in January 2023.

The Christmas Appeal, a fast, fun and festive novella, was launched in October 2023.

Janice is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. As a playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat.

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