The Appeal by Janice Hallett

The Appeal by Janice Hallett is a modern take on the epistolary novel. It’s a murder mystery told through emails, text messages, and reports.


A prominent family finds out that their granddaughter, Poppy, has a rare form of cancer. The family learns of an experimental treatment that they hope will cure Poppy. Since the treatment does not qualify for health coverage, the family calls in the help of their amateur theatre company, and together, they begin to raise funds for Poppy’s treatment.

As they begin to fundraise, some begin to question the treatment, the fundraising itself, and even the oncologist.

While everyone participates in this fundraiser, the theatre company begins rehearsals for its next play. As the play nears, tensions rise, lies unravel, and someone winds up dead.

Review of The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Initially, when I started reading this, I liked the novelty of it, of nosing through people’s emails and trying to figure out who was lying. But as I kept going, the emails felt like a slog. And I kept asking the following questions: did this need to be an email, who sends such long-winded emails when they just saw this person or will very soon, why not make a phone call, do spouses really email each other regularly when they live in the same house, and why are some key players’ emails excluded from the story.

Speaking of players: there are so many. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. There are so many that the author included multiple lists of characters throughout. After a while, I gave up on trying to remember who everyone was and just dived in.

The murder doesn’t happen until halfway through the book. Also, the reader doesn’t know who the victim is until that point. After the murder is when things started gaining momentum, and I raced through the last 100 pages or so.

While I think this novel could shed a few pages, my interest never waned, and I needed to find out what was going on. Some revelations were a bit obvious, but others were surprising.

Overall, I did enjoy this murder mystery and will read more from this author.

I recommend this to readers prepared to scour tons of innocuously written documents to discover a murderer.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 25 January 2022

Thank you to Atria Books for an arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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