Actually, this was a Wish Granted on NetGalley. I clicked on this on a whim, not thinking I would have my wish granted. I just liked the sound of it. Hang on, before I go into this, let me give you some details and we can begin.
Title and Author: The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett
Publisher: Viper Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction
Buy From (Affiliate): uk.bookshop.org
The Fairway Players of Lower Lockwood are back, getting themselves involved in another murder mystery (haven’t they not learned from Janice Hallett debut, The Appeal?). This time, the cutthroat of amateur dramatics are busy rehearsing for the Christmas panto, Jack and the Beanstalk. Expect, not everyone is feeling the good cheer. The fake smiles and catty, pettiness is out in force. The beanstalk might be full of asbestos and, of course, there’s the matter of the dead Santa…
Lawyers Femi and Charlotte are reading the emails, the WhatsApp, the Police reports to find out the truth.
I am going to admit it: I haven’t read The Appeal. Though it’s been on my radar since it was first published, I never felt the urge to read it. And when I did try to dip my toe into read another of Janice Hallett’s book, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, I quit at their 35% mark as I found it such a slog and I didn’t care for the case nor the main characters. Though I might be tempted to try via audiobook if it ever become available at my library.
But when I first of this, I was strangely intrigued as this is a novella so could easily read it within a day (actually, took me a nice long weekend), it’s Christmas and it had a cosy murder mystery feel to it. And I hoped that this might make me intrigued enough to try this author again (maybe with The Appeal).
This novella was a little delight. Mainly because it was so funny. I wasn’t sure at the start, but once I started reading the pettiness within the emails and the catty, bitchy backstabbing WhatsApp and texts between the members, I found myself cackling away. It was the humour that made this work for me. Because we all know these people in real life. And the idea of putting their egos to one side for the greater good (raising money for the local church roof) is a ridiculous request…
The build-up was lovely, though I do wish the body of the dead Santa would have appeared sooner (that’s a me thing. I always like to hit the ground running in a mystery/thriller) and the clues are so subtle that, while satisfying when revealed, it did feel a little out of the blue.
I think this is a lovely warm-up for Christmas and I can imagine fans of the Fairway Players reading this novella over Christmas Day and being annoyed when they have to stop for Christmas dinner, listening to the King’s Speech and watching the Christmas Day Eastenders episode to find out the mystery of The Six…