Review: The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Release date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


This 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 for an Arthur Miller play, when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Haywood 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. New actress Sam, a former NGO worker, raises doubts. But are her suspicions justified? Or does she have a history with the doctor involved? As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head the night of the 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 still be on the loose.

A wholly modern take on the epistolary novel, The Appeal is a debut perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Lucy Foley.


I’m a huge fan of an epistolary style novel and will always jump at the chance to read one so basically that’s all I knew about this one before I started it. The style satisfies my nosy side, I love getting a glimpse into emails, text messages etc so the format of this one worked well for me. I was also intrigued by the mystery aspect of as well, the other epistolary books I’ve read have been romance or contemporary fiction so I wondered how a mystery would work this way and unfortunately it didn’t work all that well for me in the end. I was fully invested for the bulk of it after I settled into keeping all the characters straight, because there were a ton. You also only saw one side of emails from certain people, like Issy’s emails were only her side no responses so it was confusing. But once I figured it out I was pretty comfortable until the emails stopped and basically the whole entire book was regurgitated again. Totally unnecessary and frankly boring, I actually felt like it was a waste of time and was annoyed by it. It was a solid story and idea but the execution was weak for me, it was too long and drawn out and repetitive, which was a shame because it had potential. The right reader may enjoy this, reviews are solid it just became tedious for me.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

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