Thursday 26 October 2023

πŸ“– Publication Day Review ~ The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett


Viper/Serpent's Tail
Hardback 26 October 2023

The Appeal #1.5

My thanks to the publisher for my ecopy of this book

One dead Santa. A town full of suspects. Will you discover the truth?

Christmas in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, to raise money for the church roof appeal. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking amongst the amateur dramatics enthusiasts. Sarah-Jane is fending off threats to her new position as Chair, the fibreglass beanstalk might be full of asbestos, and a someone is intent on ruining the panto even before the curtain goes up.

Of course there's also the matter of the dead body. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they read the round robins, examine the emails and pore over the police transcripts. Will the show go on?

πŸ“– My Review..

When I was approached by the publisher to read The Christmas Appeal I immediately said yes as I loved reading this author's fabulous debut, The Appeal, which fired my imagination , and so it is with great delight that I return to the company of the Fairway Players as they countdown to their annual Christmas Pantomime.

With her usual flair, the author plunges us deep into the frantic preparations for Jack and the Beanstalk and as emails, and messages, fly to and fro between the actors, we soon start to understand that all is not well with this group of amateur thespians. The epistolary theme gives the story its quirkiness and as  the banter and cutting comments start to flow, so we start to build up a picture of what happened, where, when and to whom.

It can take a little while to become comfortable with this style of narrative but I enjoy the way the story unfolds and I pretty soon became immersed in trying to piece together the clues which are so carefully presented.  Overall, The Christmas Appeal is great fun to read, laugh out loud funny in places, and entering into the ‘acting’ world which this talented author creates so beautifully is a real joy as not only does she give us all the back room shenanigans, and believe me there is a lot going on behind the scenes, but there’s also a rather interesting murder mystery to solve.

Cleverly created to be a shortish novella, The Christmas Appeal sits comfortably alongside The Appeal bringing together the company of players we recognise from the first story whilst at the same time introducing new people who add their own special charm to this intriguing murder mystery. I absolutely loved it and read in one sitting as, like all this author’s books, I simply couldn’t put it down.

About the Author

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. After gaining an MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, she co-wrote the feature film Retreat. The Appeal is inspired by her lifelong interest in amateur dramatics. Her second novel, The Twyford Code, is published by Viper in 2022. When not indulging her passion for global adventure travel, she is based in West London.

Twitter @JaniceHallett #TheChristmas Appeal


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