Saturday 9 January 2021

The Appeal by Janice Hallet #BuddyRead

 Until recently, I'd never attempted a buddy read before. The idea behind it is that you read a book at the same time as someone else and whilst (hopefully) enjoying the story, you can message one another with opinions, thoughts and perhaps all the emotions that the novel might be invoking - for me that is usually a vast amount.

My first buddy read came in the shape of Janice Hallet's novel The Appeal and boy what a corker to start with.

I was having a conversation with myself before I'd even started reading.

6th December 

8.55am   Myself: "What a cover"

13.30pm Myself again: "When would it be acceptable to start reading? Do I have to wait for my buddy?"

7th December

7.57am   Myself still waiting: "OK I can't wait any longer, I'm going in, wish me luck!"

Dear Reader,

Enclosed are documents relating to the events surrounding the Fairway Players' staging of All My Sons, and the tragic death of one of its members. Another member is currently in prison for the crime. We have reason to suspect that they are innocent, and that there were far darker secrets that have yet to be revealed.

We believe that the killer has given themselves away. It's there in writing, hidden in the emails, texts, and letters. In the events surrounding the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick, and the question of whether that money was truly being used to fund her life-saving cancer treatment. Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth? Do you dare?

This is a book that appealed to me from the get go. From its genre of crime fiction, the front cover - a pink bow waiting to be opened, to the initial questions from the blurb beckoning me in.

I felt immediate intrigue.

See initial thoughts below:

The layout and structure was unlike any book I'd read before. 

Police proceedings but not as we know it. 

We're going right along with the investigation trying to figure out just who committed the crime, the one which we actually don't quite know what's happened and who to just yet.

The mystery deepens and the speed of my reading increases!

This is a like a real cat and mouse game, who's going to reach win, us as the reader or the investigators in the story itself?

The format really adds to the intensity of the story.

Each email, Whatsapp and article.

Simple conversations? Clues? Or red herrings that instead of tipping us off were tilting us off track?

I actually loved how I had to keep doubling back on myself.

On occasion it was to see whether I had missed something, a small detail that hadn't stood out the first time. 

Other times to refresh myself on the characters and just how they had become trapped in this web of lies and deceit. 

Could I uncover the truth?

You can see from the time stamp on our messages that I was well and truly addicted. 

I had a strong need to find out all of the answers to all of the questions I was asking myself but I was conflicted because I also didn't want the book to end.

Every time I thought I'd come up with a plausible answer I had to double back on myself because there were loose ends, not quite fitting with the conclusions I was conjuring up in my head.

The more I read, the more it felt as though things were being said that I couldn't see.

8th December

6pm Talking to myself: "Read between the lines."

Everything was made more interesting talking to Nicole (my buddy) because her added insight encouraged me to look again and re-evaluate some of my initial thoughts.

I felt part of team.

Both with Nicole and the investigators Femi and Charlotte.

If you were a fly on the wall you would have seen me nodding along to their discussions, literally saying out loud how right I thought they were.

8th December

10pm Myself: "Keep going, we're so close!"

With the majority of crime fiction novels, I find that I've guessed the outcome by the time that I've reached the halfway point.

It was extremely refreshing to be nearing the end and to still not know where it would end.

Would the answers even be revealed?

I think this was in part due to the small subplots which were weaved into the main story and the fact that each characters narration held a real depth. It was like I could really hear their voices in my head. 

I'm a person that is always up for a challenge and this was a one that actually although I knew as I neared the final pages that I wasn't going to win, I wasn't upset about the idea of losing.

With every turn of the page I felt more invigorated. Despite the late nights and early starts to devour the book, I felt energised.

I could talk about this novel forever.

In fact I may well talk to about it even when you decide you don't want to listen.

The Appeal is a complex novel that is expertly executed. This is a book that even when you've reached then end and discovered the 'big reveal', you will want to read it again to look back at the evidence. Those clues that you perhaps missed and the ones that you'd mistakenly thought meant something else.

Not just a novel but a perplex puzzle waiting to be solved.

A real treat for the mind!

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