THE APPEAL By Janice Hallett #SerpentsTailpublishers #Viper #JaniceHallett @janicehallett #Bookreview

Available from the 14th January 2021 as Hardback | ebook


In a town full of secrets…. 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?


I will be honest when I first started reading this book I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the way it was set, initially I had thought it was just starting with a few emails and text messages but as I continued to read it was obvious that most of the story was emails and text messages sent between the numerous character’s involved. As I continued to read on I was hooked. What I loved was it was a different way of giving the reader all the information within these messages and emails to solve what had happened. When reading you really have to focus because the clues are all there, but not always easy to see or should I say solve. So as you read the book can you solve the crime? Can you work out who the killer is?

As the story begins Olufemi Hassan, known as Femi, and Charlotte Holroyd, known as Charlotte are given a fairly large number of emails and text messages, mostly in chronological order although they are told there are some messages missing, also supplied are some newspaper clippings, social media activity, which they are to read and work through together on behalf of Roderick Tanner QC Senior Partner of Tanner & Dewey LLP. The reason he is giving them this is he has a client who was charged with murder who he believes is innocent, now it’s up to Femi and Charlotte to see if they can work out who the real killer is, is Roderick is correct in his belief? He needs the input for The Appeal.

But this is not just a story of murder, but of deception, fraud and maybe a few other things thrown in. At times some of the emails read like Chinese whispers as one person will message another and gradually some of the stories get expanded a little.

The Hayward family is a very well respected family in Lockwood, they own The Grange golf and Country club, they are the Alpha family in the neighbourhood and the closer you are to them the better your social standing. Martin and Helen are the head of the family along with daughter Paige and her husband Greg, and Son James and his wife Olivia. Not only do they run the Grange but they are also in charge of The Fairway Players Amateur dramatics club, of which they play a big part, Helen is normally the main leading lady in the plays they put on.

Unfortunately, Martin and Helen’s grand daughter Poppy has just been diagnosed with a brain tumour which is non operable, the only possible available treatment is a new drug in America. So the family along with the locals start a crowdfunding page in order to try and raise the money to cover treatment although at £250,000 per treatment this will not be an easy feat to complete.

There are far too many characters to mention but some of the main ones who appear are Sam and Kel Greenwood they are both new to the area having just finished working as aid workers in Africa, but for some reason they were dismissed from their positions, why?. Sam is now working on a geriatric ward at St Anne’s where she meets the very needy, clingy, obsessive Issy, who encourages them to join the amateur dramatics club where they could get to meet new people. Sarah Jane MacDonald is constantly busy with the drama club as well as raising her son with her husband Kevin MacDonald. Luckily there is a list of some of the main characters early on in the book and their relationships to each other. But once you are introduced to them, for almost the next three quarters of the book it is emails and texts. Some have replies straight after them but some have no replies so it is unclear what the person has said back.

This gets to be quite a complex story at times as you realise that Dr Tish Bhatoa has some information on Sam Greenwood, but equally there is something that Sam knows about the good Dr as well. Does anyone in this community not have secrets they don’t want getting out?

When asked how much money has been raised after some of the events Martin Hayward doesn’t always come back with totals, especially after a black tie event they have which raises a good amount of money, Sarah had managed to get the band to play for free after saying that a side effect of Poppy’s tumour and treatment is that she is going blind, both Issy and Sam find this odd as being nurses they know that the treatment wouldn’t send Poppy blind but they put it down to possibly the tumour.

Issy has completely latched onto Sam, constantly bombarding her with emails and messages, she is completely obsessed. At times I actually felt sorry for her, because she has no real friends, she tends to get ignored wherever she is, she seems so socially isolated but in Sam she believes she sees someone like herself.

As the story progresses it gets more and more complex I tried guessing who could have committed the murder, a few times I was wrong but as I neared the end, a few things clicked into place that gave me ideas but there are so many twists and turns and red herrings, I think even one of the great detectives would have been left guessing.

Around the three quarters mark we go back to Femi and Charlotte, they have been in the story in short bursts as they discuss their findings. But now they are trying to work things out a little deeper as they are given a couple more clues to help them by Roderick Tanner.

I really enjoyed trying to work this one out at times it reminded me of putting a jigsaw puzzle together just trying to get all the pieces to fit except in places of pieces it’s people. There were some developments that I just never saw coming. So a terrific book, with a rich mixture of characters. I highly recommend this if you enjoy a bit of a puzzle, and something slightly different.

A definite 5⭐️ read for me I would like to thank #netgalley and #SerpentsTailpublishers #Viper for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review.


Janice Halley is a former magazine editor, award winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

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