Follow the author
The Appeal: Winner of the 2022 CWA New Blood Dagger Paperback – 1 July 2021
- Choose from over 20,000 locations across the UK
- FREE unlimited deliveries at no additional cost for all customers
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Enhance your purchase
THE SUNDAY TIMES CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR
WINNER OF THE 2022 CWA JOHN CREASEY NEW BLOOD DAGGER
ONE MURDER. FIFTEEN SUSPECTS. CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?
There is a mystery to solve in the sleepy town of Lower Lockwood. It starts with the arrival of two secretive newcomers, and ends with a tragic death. Roderick Tanner QC has assigned law students Charlotte and Femi to the case. Someone has already been sent to prison for murder, but he suspects that they are innocent. And that far darker secrets have yet to be revealed...
Throughout the amateur dramatics society's disastrous staging of All My Sons and the shady charity appeal for a little girl's medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. The evidence is all there, waiting to be found. But will Charlotte and Femi solve the case? Will you?
'Agatha Christie for the 21st century' THE TIMES
'Witty, clever and completely addictive' MAIL ON SUNDAY
'Gripping, ambitious and unusual' SOPHIE HANNAH
Special offers and product promotions
- Buy at least 4 items of your choice and save 5%. Offered by Amazon.co.uk. Shop items
Agatha Christie for the 21st century. A dazzlingly clever murder mystery, told via emails, about sinister goings-on in an amateur dramatics group ― The Times
Witty, clever and completely addictive ― Mail on Sunday
This witty thriller is giving Richard Osmond's Thursday Murder Club a run for its money in the cosy crime stakes, as it continues to charm readers. Hallett's debut, set in a sleepy town where an am-dram production of All My Sons is in the works, is funny and full of twists. Amateur sleuths and thespians alike will love it ― Evening Standard
This ingeniously conceived whodunnit encourages the reader to turn detective in a murder case set against the backdrop of an amateur dramatic club. Brain-twistingly clever ― Metro
If you're looking for a crime novel that is very different but very satisfying I thoroughly recommend The Appeal by Janice Hallett. I loved it -- Elly Griffiths, bestselling author of The Postscript Murders
Very gripping. I loved the ambitious and unusual approach -- Sophie Hannah, bestselling author of Haven't They Grown
[A] daring debut... Hallett will soon have you laughing out loud... The Appeal is clever and funny ― The Times
I couldn't put it down. [Hallett's] take on the epistolary novel is so involving AND funny at the right moments. Puts the reader right in the thick of it, as we become the spyware eavesdropping on all these private emails and messages. Brilliant idea and SO cleverly executed
If you're looking for something insanely gripping to take to the sofa with, then run to The Appeal by Janice Hallett. It's a brilliantly fresh, ingenious and original whodunnit that is heading to the top of the bestseller chart if there's any justice. So, so good -- India Knight, author of In Your Prime
The Appeal grips from the start, expertly stage-managing emails and messages to create an intriguing mystery with a cast of vivid, memorable characters. Original, clever, devious - and never less than utterly compelling - this is a case you're about to become obsessed with. A real triumph -- Alex North, bestselling author of The Whisper Man
Takes the whodunnit to a whole new level. Intriguing, clever and above all, wholly original. A rare feat indeed, and to be savoured -- Elizabeth Haynes, bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner
One of the most enjoyable books I've read all year. Extremely addictive, it will reel you in, one piece of evidence at a time. Ingenious and highly original -- Alex Pavesi, author of Eight Detectives
Wholly original, constructed as delicately as a spiderweb, and as heartfelt as it is intelligent, I could not stop reading The Appeal-- Catriona Ward, author of The Last House on Needless Street
Fiendishly clever, highly original and totally gripping -- Cass Green, bestselling author of In a Cottage in a Wood
Sly, funny, perfectly observed and clever. A superior and sophisticated Midsomer Murders packed with delicious red herrings -- Kate Griffin, author of Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders
What a book. It has galvanised me to do better! Exceptional -- Matt Wesolowski, author of Six Stories
Fresh, funny and impossible to put down. The Appeal is about an amateur dramatics group and an appeal to raise funds for a sick child and it's brilliant -- Mark Edwards, bestselling author of The House Guest
Brilliantly crafted, The Appeal is a refreshingly different take on the modern crime novel. Full of suspicion and secrets, I raced my way to the end - and what an ending! -- Lisa Hall, author of The Party
What a cracking book. Fresh, original and very clever
Brilliantly original, inventive and clever. I loved this book and you will too -- Phoebe Morgan, author of The Doll House
Ingenious and page-turning traditional crime given an original twist... like a modernised Agatha Christie -- Maxim Jakubowski, Crime Time
Highly original with characters that leap off the page. An addictive read -- Michelle Frances, author of The Girlfriend
I loved this - it's utterly compulsive and unlike anything I've read in a while. It is such a cliché to say it, but I genuinely could NOT put it down. Bravo -- Katie Lowe, author of The Furies
A very clever novel that puts you in the place of an investigator. A hugely enjoyable challenge and a most original book -- Jane Lythell, author of The Lie of You
A totally original take on a thriller - intriguing and dark but with a dash of humour - I raced through it -- Catherine Cooper, author of The Chalet
A wonderfully revealing portrait of how we communicate - what we hide and show of ourselves. It's sharp, funny, a brilliant game, and once you start playing you won't be able to stop -- Rachel Elliot, author of Whispers Through a Megaphone
So cleverly written. I felt like I was a trainee lawyer sifting through evidence and trying to discover the culprit. It was exciting, fresh, and forces the reader to be an active investigator. I loved it -- Louise Mullins, author of I Know You
What a book. Right up there with the best I've read this year. Great characters, smart structure, and kept me guessing all the way to the end -- Dan Malakin, author of The Regret
A brilliant hybrid of Agatha Christie and Silk -- Guy Morpuss QC
I haven't enjoyed a book this much since Standard Deviation. Congratulations, Janice Hallett! -- Louise Voss, author of The Last Stage
Fantastic. Gives you that deliciously satisfying feeling of reading other people's private emails -- S.V. Leonard, author of The Islanders
An utterly compelling whodunnit putting the reader at the centre of the action. A must read for thriller fans. A blistering, page-turner of a debut
Highly original... for a first novel it is a tour de force ― Crime Review
- Publisher : Viper; Main edition (1 July 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1788165306
- ISBN-13 : 978-1788165303
- Dimensions : 12.8 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 August 2021
Reviews with images
Top reviews from United Kingdom
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This was so original. The way, even from emails and texts peoples characters are drawn. The shafts of humour. A whiff of the supernatural.
Loved it. Oh, and if you are reading this on a kindle take a couple of pictures on your phone of the 'The Fairway Players', very helpful in remembering who is who.
So many congratulations to the author.
On the face of it, The Appeal shouldn't be anything like the page-turner that it is. It's not a fast-paced thriller. There's no lurking serial killer, no police work, no espionage, no detective, none of that. For most of the book, we're reading a substantial pile of emails, text messages and press clippings relating to a provincial amateur dramatics society. These documents are part of a QC's evidence bundle for an appeal against someone's murder conviction, but we aren't even told who the supposed victim is, let alone who is is in prison.
That means it's up to us to piece together what's happened from the content and tone of the conversations available. It becomes clear that the wealthy, middle-class Hayward family, who own a local hotel and health club, are at the centre of their social circle and are the driving force behind the Fairway Players. Martin Hayward runs the group and, along with his son James, directs the shows, while his wife Helen and daughter Paige are the perennial leading ladies while everyone else is vying for the best supporting roles, both on and off stage. When Martin and Helen's two-year-old grandchild, Paige's daughter Poppy, is diagnosed with a brain tumour, their friends and hangers-on immediately form a committee to crowdfund an experimental new treatment from America.
Meanwhile, Fairway Players stalwart Issy Beck has introduced two new members to the group. Issy is a nurse on a geriatric ward and is delighted when her new colleague Sam Greenwood and her husband Kel agree to audition. Sam and Kel have just returned from volunteering in Africa with Medecins Sans Frontieres but why did they leave? And what's their connection with Poppy's doctor?
Creative writing students are often instructed to 'show, not tell' when it comes to their characters and Janice Hallett is certainly an absolute master of this. With only the characters' own words to go on, we can immediately start to build up a clear picture of each of them and of the group dynamic. Issy's excitable, over-enthusiastic and almost childlike emails have a clingy, obsessive note to them. The bossy, capable tones of Sarah-Jane McDonald, who as a former charity sector fundraising manager is naturally best placed to assume the mantle of campaign coordinator for A Cure for Poppy are spot-on - sometimes persuasive, sometimes hectoring. Martin Hayward is confidently authoritative while his son, James, takes a softer and more theatrical tone. And - importantly - what isn't said is often as revealing as what is.
Every character is acutely well-observed, as are the social interactions between them, the constant low-level battle for status within the group and the rapidity with rumours and speculation spread from one to another. It's as much a satire on the nature of certain types of social group as it is a puzzle to be solved and it is frequently very funny.
I'm sure some readers may not take to the way the story is told, or to the gossipy pettiness of so many of the characters' interactions - it has a very parish council feel to it, and there are definitely characters who would not accept that Jackie Weaver has any authority here, so you will occasionally have a strong urge to punch them. But I'm fascinated by this kind of very English, microcosmic story and while I'm delighted that I never have to spend time with these people in real life, I was delighted to observe them from afar.