#Review The Appeal by Janice Hallett

The Appeal – ‘The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.’ Coming in January 2022 – The Twyford Code also by Janice Hallett

About the Author

Janice Hallett 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, Thandiwe Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal was her first novel, her second The Twyford Code is set to be published by Viper Books in January 2022. Follow @JaniceHallett on Twitter

About the book

In a town full of secrets. Someone was murdered. Someone went to prison. And Everyone’s a suspect. 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?


I think less will be more when it comes to reviewing this one. I wouldn’t want to take away the pleasure of experiencing this little treasure with an open mind.

Just one thing though, the minutes created by Isabel Beck were a riot – this is what happens when you write what you think, as opposed to giving a written narrative of what was actually said. Maybe she can come do some clerking in our town, it would go down a treat.

I have to give Hallett her dues, this is a completely engrossing and original piece of work. Interestingly it never loses the element of intrigue, despite the quite often seemingly mundane flowing in and out of the interactions and communications. It reminded me of a toss-up between a modern Cluedo and a game of mastermind. It’s about the right place and time, the right combination of people, place, evidence and above all the clues.

It’s a really well executed original piece of fiction. Using texts, emails, letters in a story isn’t unusual – completing a whole murder mystery that way is. You either fail to reel in your audience or you excel at it, as Hallett has done.

Buy The Appeal at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : ‎Viper; pub date 14 Jan. 2021. Buy at Amazon comAt Waterstones.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

In a small town in Eastern Texas the body of white woman and black lawyer from Chicago are found. The presumption is that Michael killed the poor white girl, and hey he must be guilty because he is black and in the same tiny town, hence him also ending up dead.

Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger, is asked to take a look into the situation, despite being on suspension, and ends up in a nest full of racists with no regard for his authority. Darren puts his life on the line to discover the truth, in a town living in the past ruled by men with secrets and men who believe being black equates to being sub-human.

Considering the rise of racial tensions in America in the last few years this story is quite poignant. When I say rise I think the correct term would be a resurfacing and less denial of the racial problems in the States. Issues, which have always existed, but the inhabitants and the media like to downplay and minimise. Now black people are standing up and roaring their outrage loud enough for the world to hear.

Reading the reality of the racial tension and segregation suggests that nothing has changed since the days of Jim Crow laws, and how can they when racist institutions like the KKK are accepted under the guise of freedom of speech and democracy. A complete paradox when white supremacists call for discrimination, oppression and lack of freedom for any person who isn’t white.

It is hate speech, hate crimes and a perfect example of autocratic rule. Racists do not really understand democracy, you can’t advocate for the opposite of that political system, and yet want to profit from the freedoms that come with democracy at the same time.

Locke incorporates important civil rights issues in this well-written story about racism and hatred. She is definitely an author to keep an eye out for.

Buy Bluebird, Bluebird at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Follow @atticalocke @serpentstail Visit atticalocke.com