The Appeal by Janice Hallett

The Appeal by Janice Hallett is the most unique, cleverly written/told story I have ever read! It grips you from the first page, so much so you are tempted to read the last page! Don’t! It is so worth the satisfaction of going along for the ride.

Told in email and text form, The Appeal tells the story of a local English theatre group, The Fairway Players. Their last play has ended, and they are beginning the auditioning process for the new play. The group has been together so long, there are no real surprises as to who will get the leads, but there are a few new additions to the Players, a husband and wife just back from overseas. Director Martin Hayward announces he will not be able to participate in the next play due to the diagnosis of a brain tumor in his two-year-old granddaughter Poppy. He goes on to tell them there is an experimental drug in the United States which her doctor suggests looks promising, but it is very expensive and even though the Haywards have money, even they cannot afford what could be considered a miracle cure.

So, as a group they decide to take on the challenge of raising the money to assist the family, while rehearsing for the new performance. They not only seek donations but put on a fancy gala with all the proceeds going to a charity set up for Poppy. They also sell raffle tickets at extraordinary prices to be drawn during the show. T-shirts are made and email blasts go out pleading for money to help poor Poppy.

But there are a few members who question the authenticity of the charity, and even of Poppy’s illness. The talking, or rather emailing behind each other’s back is remarkable.

As the email and text chains are read, we begin to see the personalities of the group emerge. There is a needy, mousy woman who wants to be included in this clique so badly she would do anything to become friends with just about anybody. Hayward’s wife Helen, the star of the Fairway Players and always the lead is in some ways fragile, the newcomers, especially the wife, seem curious as to what is really going on.

Then, as everything begins to build, the questions, the rehearsals, the charity meetings, something tragic happens after the dress rehearsal. Someone dies.

As the lawyers sift through all the information which they have gathered, they begin to breakdown who would possibly want to kill and for what reasons. The suspect list is gathered and analyzed with different scenarios played out until they all agree on one.

Although the reveal is shocking, the story itself is filled with humor, backstabbing, plot twists and secrets. It also takes on social media in a mockingly, serious, helpful, yet harmful way. The moral? Sometimes using social media can be a killer!

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