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The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett
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my rating

Book details

  • Date Published: October 24, 2023
  • Pages: 208
  • Audio: 4 hours
  • Publisher: Atria Books

The Christmas Appeal Book Review

Sometimes what you need during the crazy Christmas season is a book that will make you laugh out loud. If that sounds like something you’re looking for, then this book is for you.

Plans for the annual Christmas play are underway in this small English town. From the outside, The Fairway Players seem like a happy welcoming community group, but from the inside, there is some serious tension, a power struggle, and a mysterious secret they are trying to hide.

How do you know?

As a reader, you get the inside scoop through every email, text message, and instant message that is exchanged between its members. You seriously feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation you didn’t mean to hear.

I can honestly say that I went into this book knowing next to nothing other than what I read in the publisher’s description (see below). I don’t think if I’ve ever read a novel that was 100% epistolary, but I loved it. At first, I was a bit confused by the way the story is told. The first half to two-thirds is all told through email exchanges, instant messages, and text messages. Later on you get to learn more through transcripts from police depositions.

In some ways, you feel like an investigator yourself as you try to piece together the story through the various communications that were exchanged. But I laughed out loud at some of the exchanges and mix-ups. (I don’t want to give too much away.)

One of the parts I found interesting is how people will admit to some pretty egregious actions and intentions when they are accused of murder. Let me know if you notice that, too.

This book is a sequel to the best-selling mystery novel, The Appeal, but you do not need to read that book to enjoy this one. I can say because I have not read it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But now it makes me want to go back and read it so I can know more of the backstory.

I’m excited to listen to the audiobook when it comes out especially seeing that they’ve enlisted multiple voice actors to bring this book to life. (As of this writing, Audible has a pre-order sale for members for $11.90.)

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for sharing this advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review.

publisher’s description

This immersive holiday caper from the “modern Agatha Christie” (The Sunday Times, London) follows the hilarious Fairway Players theater group as they put on a Christmas play—and solve a murder that threatens their production.

The Christmas season has arrived in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive holiday production of Jack and the Beanstalk to raise money for a new church roof. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking among the amateur theater enthusiasts with petty rivalries, a possibly asbestos-filled beanstalk, and some perennially absent players behind the scenes.

Of course, there’s also the matter of the dead body onstage. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they investigate Christmas letters, examine emails, and pore over police transcripts to identify both the victim and killer before the curtain closes on their holiday production—for good.

Favorite Quotes

  • “Oh. In my experience, if the past is buried away, it has a habit of popping up, without warning and when you least expect it.”
  • “A ‘patty’ of dung. Is that the word?”
  • “The grass is always greener. Other people’s lives often seem better than our own — because usually we don’t get to see inside the beanstalk.”

Other Books by Janice Hallett

Looking more more Christmas novels? Here are 35 Top Christmas Novels to Put You in the Holiday Spirit!

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