The Christmas Appeal
the Sunday Times bestseller from the author of The Appeal
by Janice Hallett
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Pub Date 26 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 29 Oct 2023
Agatha Christie for the 21st century - The Times
Dazzlingly clever - Sunday Times
Witty, clever and completely addictive - Daily Mail
A big-hearted, ingeniously constructed mystery - Sunday Express
A delight - New York Times
A tour de force - Observer
Rich characterisation and sly humour - Telegraph
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 311 members
Janice Hallett's 'The Appeal' is one of my favourite mystery novels ever - a hilarious, ingenious and unputdownable whodunnit set in the cutthroat world of amateur dramatics. In 'The Christmas Appeal', we once again meet the Fairway Players, as Roderick Tanner KC presents young lawyers Femi and Charlotte with another dossier of messages to investigate.
It is December 2022 and the Fairway Players are preparing for their Christmas pantomime - an 'authentic' production of Jack and the Beanstalk using a 1970s script. It doesn't take long to sense that there is discord between the 'power couple', co-chairs Sarah-Jane and Kevin MacDonald, and their rivals Celia Halliday and her husband Joel (OBE). The MacDonalds are hoping the production will be a big success and raise lots of money to repair the church hall roof, but the Hallidays don't want anything to overshadow their own 'triumphant production' Glengarry Glen Ross.
Tanner keeps Femi and Charlotte guessing what the mystery will be - does it have something to do with the enormous beanstalk last used 30 years ago? Or the nice new couple who auditioned for parts in the panto and haven't been seen or heard from since? What about the rumours that a convicted murderer is on the loose in Lockwood? And why exactly is there so much correspondence about the sweets Sarah-Jane is trying to procure for Santa to give out?
As with all Hallett's novels, the solution, when revealed, is immensely satisfying and hinges on a number of clues which are cleverly planted earlier on in the story but easily missed. But this is only part of the pleasure of 'The Christmas Appeal' - I enjoyed it as much for the brilliantly observed communications between Hallett's memorable cast of characters. There are plenty of cringeworthy round robins, passive aggressive e-mails and two-faced WhatsApp messages to relish; Sarah-Jane's blunt replies to timewasters remain a highlight this time round, and I almost cheered out loud at the return of another favourite character from 'The Appeal' midway through this installment.
This is a quick read which I devoured in a single sitting and was a most welcome early Christmas present. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I raced through this book, there is something comforting about Christmas in August.
Once again Janice Hallet has written another stonker of a book. Seeing and reading about the Fairway Players’ and their past exploits always brings an unbridled joy. I read this book in less than a day, THAT’s how brilliant it is. I implore everyone to read it and love it!
Well done, Janice.
Huge thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book long before publication. If I could award it a whole galaxy of stars ⭐️ I would. Such a fantastic achievement and book. Merry Christmas 🎄
In her acknowledgements, Hallett refers to writing this book as meeting back up with old friends and that is definitely how it felt to me.
Anyone who has read The Appeal will be familiar with The Fairway Players and their internal politics. At just over 200 pages, this is a quickly devoured novella, and it reads much quicker given that the majority of the novel is told through emails, WhatsApps, transcripts etc.
If you enjoyed The Appeal, you will love this too.
Thanks to Netgalley and Serpent's Tail / Viper / Profile Books, Viper for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
I absolutely loved this return to the antics of the Fairways Players. The perfect festive read that can be read as a standalone novel but has all the characters I enjoyed in 'The Appeal". I read it in one sitting and was chuckling and laughing out as I read the passive aggressive mesages and hilarious amateur dramatic pantomine of Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a really fun read with a clever mystery I enjoyed trying to unravel. I'm really impressed with the way the personalities of each character is conveyed so well eventhough this is a relatively short read. The perfect read to go in your Christmas stocking.
I loved this novella. Janice Hallett brings back “The Fairway Players” for another mystery. I loved “The Appeal” and was very happy to see the characters again, along with new residents. This novella is written in messages and emails just like previous books and from the perspective of two police officers investigating the case.
I read this in one evening. An absolute page turner with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Janice Hallett at her best.
Thank you to NetGalley and Viper Books for the ARC
I think I let out a little squeal when I saw this read was available to me, after the huge success of the original read.
This one doesn't disappoint either.
Packed with just as much drama off the stage as on. As a member of a local am dram company this is scarily accurate and makes for fun reading.
It takes a while for the action to get going, which was surprising for such a short read. That being said it didn't put me off, and it was glorious being with characters with that sense of familiarity again.
A thrilling read, oh yes it is!
Having read and loved The Appeal, this was a must read. The plot is presented in the same way as the original (text messages/ WhatsApp messages/ letters) and centres around another event with the Fairway players. Pacy, twisty and fun!
I would like to thank the author, the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. I devoured it in one sitting, it was a fabulous read that I will be recommending to everyone that I know.
I love Janice Hallet’s style of writing and The Appeal was fabulous so I couldn’t wait to read this novella. Again there’s a mystery associated with The Fairway Players which has many of the original members with some new ones too. The communication continues to be occasionally bitchy and hilarious especially as there’s competition for leading the group and I read through this far too quickly I loved it so much. The mystery was really well thought out and I liked the degree of ambiguity of the ending, this is a worthy sequel which will be much enjoyed by many.
Omg Janice hallet does it again I read this book in one sitting and adored it I could not put it down. I love the writing style and the way the book is told. This authors style is very engaging and can't wait to get my physical copy to annotate and see if I can pick up on clues
What a wonderful, ingenious novel! And now I'm off to read 'The Appeal' straight away for more shenanigans in the company of the Fairway Players.
Anyway, on with the review before I delve in.
'The Christmas Appeal' acts as a follow-up to 'The Appeal' but it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to enjoy our Christmas whodunit. But considering how much I laughed while reading 'The Christmas Appeal', I would recommend reading both, ASAP!
'The Christmas Appeal' is a contemporary, cosy mystery mystery, set in the feverish and amusing world of amateur dramatics with The Fairway Players'. The story is introduced by one Roderick Tanner KC who provides his junoir colleagues with a detailed collection of messages (voicemail recordings, texts and emails). Femi and Charlotte are now tasked with reviewing the dossier contents and determine "whodunit".
This dossier actually forms the bulk of the novel as the reader, reads along with our two lawyers, and try to investigate what really happened. While I've come across other novels that have used the inclusion of articles, emails to great effect, (for example the fab Cara Hunter does this), it did take a few pages to settle into the novel and sensibly Hallett has included a "Who's Who", to help the reader interpret the connections between the characters.
Tanner has refused to provide Femi and Charlotte with the background to the murder, and instructs them to investigate, solely using the dossier - avoiding any influence from his knowledge and allowing them to make the same discoveries as the reader.
With such an enjoyable tale, there is a tendency to speed through the passages (and certainly the combination of texts, emails etc makes this very easy to do), but I would advise taking a slower pace. There is an extensive cast of characters and so many interactions that the reader risks missing a valuable clue to the "Whodunit", or even some of the numerous jokes packed into the text. With committee members involving themselves in complex political machinations (or to put it bluntly, trying to stab in each in the back on a near constant basis), anyone who has ever spent time in a committee will enjoy recognising personalities and traits. I found myself identifying some characters/behaviours from real-life scenarios.
The level of 'one up man ship' leads to lots of laugh out loud moments.
Janice Hallett has such a fantastic way of making me feel nostalgic towards people I’ve never even met.
The Fairway Players are a mysterious amateur dramatic group with more than one of them hiding a secret. Written in the same style as Halletts earlier work - the story is told through a variety of correspondence alternating between text messages, emails, and police witness statements. All of which will keep you guessing until the very end.
The subtle nods to characters from the previous book provided some much needed closure for a nosey Parker like me.
I've loved Janice Hallett's previous works and this really didn't disappoint. We're back in the company of the Fairway Players, who featured in The Appeal, and this time they're putting on a pantomime to raise money for a new church roof. Naturally an unexpected discovery means turmoil and a mystery to be solved - again the story is told through emails and texts between the Players themselves and the lawyers looking into the case. I absolutely raced through the book, it's a quick read and very, very funny - it had me laughing out loud on many occasions. A great read, especially for the build up to Christmas.
Thanks to NetGalley for the copy in return for an honest review #NetGalley #TheChristmasAppeal
Another cracker from Janice Hallett, this time a Christmas cracker. A sequel to the Appeal, there’s more murder and mayhem for the Fairway Players of Lockwood. Again mainly told in emails and what’s app messages the dialogue and characters are hilarious as they prepare for a once only performance of Jack and the Beanstalk. The Beanstalk is the star of the show but the backstabbing and gossip lays out the clues again for trainee barristers Femi and Charlotte to discover the truth.
I was so excited to be approved for this book as I have loved every one of this author’s novels. It certainly didn’t disappoint in any way. It’s ingenious and compelling with a fabulous cast of characters. The way the tale is unfurled is really cleverly done with more than a dash of humour too. I loved the randomer in the WhatsApp group for example. Janice Hallett is the new queen of crime.
Loved loved loved!! It was so good to be able to read this and get back with the fairway players as they tackle their Xmas panto. Such a great read I devoured in one sitting
When this book was announced I was so excited to be going back and reading exploits of the Fairway players and this novella does not disappoint.
Femi and Charlotte are once again investigating a murder that has occurred in the players Christmas Panto, they are sifting through emails, WhatsApp messages etc and this again makes the book very addictive.
i loved reading the round robin Christmas emails and the messages between everyone, and the conflicts and downright bitchiness that happens when people are together.
The mystery was enjoyable and kept you guessing until the last page..
a lovely short read, with all the players from The Appeal, a smashing Christmas treat
‘Date: 1 November 2023
Subject: A conundrum for you’
What a joy and a privilege to be back with The Fairway Players! A wonderful surprise too, as I didn’t even know this was on the horizon! Will Janice Hallett ever final to be one of the most creative writers out there currently? I doubt it! She’s on a massive roll and every book so far has been an utter joy!
This short story hit just as much as The Appeal did, and being back with these wonderful characters as they embark on yet another interesting production feels like coming home! With wonderful throwbacks to the first in this series, we follow these characters on as they deal with even more local scandal and gossip, and I found myself, yet again, audibly laughing at points. These characters are so wonderfully real that you can place them all in your local community. A triumph from one of my favourites!
Thank you SO much to netgalley and the publisher for this early read, and for making Christmas come that little bit early! Very excited to see the buzz that will be surrounding The Fairway Players once again!
Well, well, well. If you read Janice’s debut and were charmed if a little frightened by the inhabitants of Lower Lockwood, now’s your chance to reacquaint yourself with them and the Fairway Players. After much calamity (and murder) over a play some years since, the Players are rehearsing this year’s pantomime – warts and all. Though it’s all in aid of the church roof campaign, I doubt Hollywood films have more drama and kick-offs. Arguments over a long-hidden beanstalk, a removable wall, sweets, gender neutral sweet bags and new and old participants abound as well as a few who’d do whatever it takes to ruin the panto before curtain up. Of course, there’s the teeny tiny issue of a dead body but who is it and why have they turned up as they did? It’s another case for lawyers Charlotte and Femi to tackle and we are here for it.
Is it a delight to be offered an advance copy of this new Janice Hallett novel, and to be back in the company of the Fairway Players of Lockwood? Oh yes it is!
This sequel to 'The Appeal', is everything a reader could hope for. This is like a Christmas special of your favourite tv ensemble comedy drama, with the comedy turned right up.
This time, the story is wrapped around by the Fairway Players staging of their annual panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, and never has a beanstalk been so integral to a murder mystery plot.
Boo the baddies, cheer the goodies, gasp at the return of familiar characters, and wonder at the joy of her writing.
She's done it again folks. Easy five stars.
I raced through this lighthearted little mystery! Fans of The Appeal will love catching up with their favourite characters but this could also be read as a stand-alone. With characters you’ll love to hate (Celia takes over the role of the incredibly annoying Isabel this time round) there’s lots of amusing sniping and backstabbing. This follows the same format as The Appeal being comprised entirely of text messages and emails. The hilarious exchanges between husband and wife Sarah-Jane and Kevin had me laughing out loud! A brilliant read, I really hope it’s not the last we see of the Fairway Players!
Thank you Netgalley, Janice Hallett and Serpent’s Tail for this Arc.
Oh I didn't think the Appeal could get a second instalent but this was a treat!
I would say you don't have to have read the Appeal before this one (although it helps, the persoinalities are so clear in the early stages of this novella that it's not necessary), given that I'd forgotten a lot of the specifics of it before diving straight into this!
It's set around a panto production, and all the joys that brings - having worked in Am Dram in the past, I can tell you most of this is very accurate!!!.
Merry Christmas everyone, you're in for a treat with this one!
Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced pdf copy of this for my review.
A return to The Fairway Players sees rehearsals for a Christmas panto take place amid a power struggle for control of the amateur dramatic group. Gossip abounds when hints of asbestos begin and end with a dead body.
Janice Hallett wrote the extremely unique The Appeal, which centered around a murder involving The Fairway Players. The Christmas Appeal sees us returning to the village of Lockwood a few years later as The Fairway Players rehearse for the annual Christmas panto.
I did nothing but chuckle from beginning to end. Misunderstandings and misdirection are front and centre as the group rehearses a 1970's version of Jack And The Beanstalk. There are all the stresses and strains you would expect in the month of December, compounded by the pressure of rehearsals and trying to ensure everything is perfect, but added to this is the friction between the chair of the amateur dramatics group and the woman who believes she should be in charge, Celia Halliday. Celia is the stand-out character in the story, you can just picture her, in fact you probably know someone just like her! Every time the OBE was mentioned I laughed out loud and I think I actually snorted at the "no-BE".
The use of text messages and emails makes this an easy and engrossing read, however, it's impossible to guess what is going to happen, or the number of things that go wrong. You'll gasp with shock at the cavalier way some of the disasters are handled.
The building of two new housing estates nearby has increased the opportunity to introduce new characters, the few that we meet are fantastic additions. I do hope that we see a return to The Fairway Players again.
Janice Hallett has done it again in this
acutely observed novella featuring a return for the Fairway Players. This story centres on a one off performance of Jack and the Beanstalk to raise funds for the church roof. I can’t say when I last laughed so much when rewarding. There are some thruway lines of pure comic genius, a scene of pure farce when a body is discovered and within all that, some sharp and wry comments on human nature.
Hallett manages to capture all the small absurdities, jealousies, petty rivalries and backstabbing that go on in day to day life. She takes the ordinary into the theatre of the absurd without losing credibility and I absolutely loved this short story. It’s a reprise for characters
from The Appeal in a brilliantly well imagined festive tale. Miss this at your peril.
Receiving The Christmas Appeal felt like an early Christmas gift - unexpected, mysterious and thrilling - that brought equal joy. Although I love all Janice Hallett’s books, The Appeal remains my favourite; thus, I was thrilled to get my hands on this little gem. The author’s adept writing continues to astound me, particularly her ability to vividly portray characters solely through emails and WhatsApp messages, eliminating the need for conventional descriptions. The characters are distinct and never cause confusion, each boasting vibrant personalities and individual writing styles. Amidst the twists and suspense, there are many laugh out loud moments and witty, astute observations. My only regret is that the book wasn't longer, as I was reluctant to see it come to (a very satisfying) end.
Reading a Christmas book in August?!!! Madness…I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into the vibe as it’s hot outside today in the garden. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong, it doesn’t feel Christmasy, despite it being set in December and about a pantomime- yes, I know…what’s more Christmassy….what do I want…
The plot is set out in a series of WhatsApp and email exchanges, it works really well and I have to say it’s absolutely hilarious. I was genuinely laughing on each page. It’s just brilliant!
My thanks to Netgalley and Rachel Quin Marketing for sending me this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 rounded up
Mr Roderick Tanner, KC (retired) piques the interest of Femi Hassan and Charlotte Holroyd (The Appeal) in a sequence of documents relating to a case concerning The Fairway Players. Their latest production is a 1978 West End version of Jack and the Beanstalk, directed by Sarah–Jane McDonald, ably assisted by husband, Kevin. What the documents tantalisingly reveal is a panto, like no other as a real pantomime definitely occurs, if not a macabre farce. So, who dunnit? That would be telling.
How Janice Hallet manages to so cleverly. tell a fantastic story via mixed media is beyond me, but she’s nailed it, again. It’s so clever, and in places, so funny that I laugh out loud. The emails between the Fairway players reveal so much, we’ve got masterful manipulation and deliberate undermining as a power struggle is occurring before our very eyes. The undercurrent and subtle and not so subtle attempts at sabotage are at times hilarious. There are some glorious putdowns and irony would you wouldn’t have thought possible via the medium of pantomime, but this is from 1978, so there’s no “woke” “society in that script. The emails/WhatsApp messages also demonstrate how the area has changed with local tensions between the “old“, the posh new development of Hayward Heights and the new affordable housing. Add in rumours abounding and a cast of characters whose personalities are certainly clear to see in their messages, so which ones resemble the goodies and baddies of pantomime for us to hiss, boo, and cheer??
The night of the pantomime is simply mesmerising! We have a debacle over sweets, we have some shenanigans and a shocker two in an ENORMOUS Beanstalk, some dodgy moments on and off stage with the added deliciousness of much malice aforethought. I love the way that Tanner (i.e. the author) keeps us in suspense right to the end, revealing pieces of information at a time, keeping Femi, Charlotte and us guessing right to the somewhat ambivalent end.
This is a brilliant festive (or not, why wait til Christmas?) quick read with many a twist and turn. “Oh no, there isn’t“, “Oh yes, there is“. You’ll definitely need to “look behind you“ and generally all around to see if you can spot the clues …….. Maybe I did, did, did or maybe I didn’t, didn’t, didn’t!
What a fantastic cover too! Does the contents real justice.
Although characters from The Appeal are also in this novella it can very easily be read as a standalone.
With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Serpents Tail/ Viper/Profile books for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
Janice Hallett is surely 100% on the nice list for writing this novella. I love her writing style and was so excited to get back to the world of The Appeal and The Christmas Appeal was everything I was hoping for. It’s so cleverly written and very witty. She has captured the small village snideness and rivalry so well. As with all her other books, The Christmas Appeal makes for compulsive reading. I couldn’t put it down and then wished I hadn’t read it so quickly.
Prepare to devour this novella quicker than your Christmas Dinner and feel just as satisfied after you’re done.
Thanks to Janice Hallett, Viper and NetGalley for opportunity to review an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
My thanks to NetGalley and publishers for a copy of “ The Christmas Appeal” for an honest review.
I’ve loved all of Janice Hallett’s previous books so Christmas came early for me to get an ARC for her latest.
I was going to keep it to read closer to the festive season but I just couldn’t resist.
I think this is my favourite so far. This was such a clever and humorous read , with brilliant characters and I was gripped from the start.
I’ve recommended her books to numerous library users and I’ll definitely be suggesting this as a must read !
Readers of The Appeal will be delighted to see the return of The Fairway Players in time for panto season. Personally, I was thrilled to be invited to read an early copy and couldn’t wait to get started on it, re-arranging my reading schedule to fit it in at the first chance possible. So, now having read it – in one sitting and after lots of chuckling – I’m ready to review it. Now, if you haven’t read The Appeal, don’t worry. The quirky writing style and format will draw you in, and if you’re in any way familiar with community groups or collaborative creative projects, you’ll soon recognise the internal dynamics as sooooo believable, only this time – as a voyeur – you’ll be able to see the funny side of their “banter”. Enjoy!
Retired KC, Mr Tanner has sent a set of documents for review to lawyers Femi Hassan and Charlotte Holroyd without telling them exactly what they might be looking for, but he’s convinced they’ll find the info – emails, texts, Whatsapp messages – interesting as well as a chance to “reconnect” with The Fairway Players who are preparing their latest show, a pantomime: Jack and the Beanstalk. The Players have a new chair team in Sarah–Jane McDonald and her husband, Kevin, who’ll be managing the performance in every aspect from casting to show night.
From the moment Sarah-Jane issues a casting call, the group dynamics are tested by an opponent to her leadership. With passive-aggressive emails to The Players , it’s clear Sarah-Jane’s rival wants to create a division within the group. It’s deliciously revealing and sets the tone for the rest of the group’s communications. Criticisms abound – but oh so subtly, and never face-to-face!
As Sarah-Jane and Kevin overcome challenges regarding the overlarge beanstalk, rumours of asbestos in said beanstalk, selling tickets (and not giving them away) and providing refreshments and goody bags, it finally looks as though they’re ready. But, of course, they’re not. Enter stage-right Chaos and Mayhem. When the best laid plans goes hilariously awry, the audience – unknowingly – are in for the treat of their life.
Meanwhile Femi and Charlotte are struggling to see why Mr Tanner wants their thoughts on the documents… and it’s only then that he provides a few more snippets of info that, along with the details of performance night and all its craziness ultimately prove there was a method to his madness.
The attempts by keyboard warriors to manipulate others by criticising and stirring up old tensions to change things in their favour are quashed with glorious one-liners and sublime putdowns that are the essence of the pantomime ethos that good will conquer evil.
The ending – and the reason why Tanner got Femi and Charlotte involved – is as off-the-wall as you could ever imagine, so worthy of the pantomime plotline. The personality clashes are as clear as ever, the rivalry as cutting, and the humour as sharp. I defy readers not to laugh aloud as they read through the messages and try to solve the mystery, because it’s a corker. Oh, yes it is!
Janice Hallett is one of my favourite authors, I even got to see her in Edinburgh at a Toppings event to celebrate her hardback release of The Alperton Angels. I absolutely adore her writing and The Christmas Appeal did not disappoint.
This cosy, festive murder mystery revisits the cast from The Appeal to solve a new murder which happened in the small town. But don’t worry, you don’t need to have read The Appeal to read this book, it is all very self-explanatory.
Books which let the reader solve the crime themselves seem to be the rage at the moment on bookstagram and booktok, so I’d definitely recommend getting your hands on this one – right in time for Christmas!
Thank you again to Janice Hallett, Rachel Quinn, Viper and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is one author who will always shoot straight to the top of my TBR pile and The Christmas Appeal did exactly that. At just over 200 pages, this perfect nugget of joy was devoured in an evening. It features a return to the lives of the superb cast of The Appeal where the Fairway Players are planning a Christmas panto to outdo all previous productions until the usual mayhem descends. Building on the unique nature of The Appeal’s storytelling, the Christmas edition again features emails, what’s app messages and an utterly hilarious round robin letter.
I defy anyone who has enjoyed any of Hallet’s novels to not love this one too.
I thought it was brilliant and very enjoyable reading, despite me usually being a confirmed Grinch especially when it comes to Christmas-adjacent books.
Really enjoyed this book just as much as the first one in the series. It was nice getting back with some of the characters from book one. I would highly recommend reading the appeal before reading this as some repeat characters are in this book. But I really enjoyed this book.
I adore Janice Hallett and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her latest novel #thechristmasappeal via #netgalley
Fabulous as always, it is a lighthearted, cosy sort of crime and if you've read #theappeal already then you will recognise many of the characters.
The cast of suspects are as always enthusiastic in the endeavours and expertly entertaining.
I found myself with a smile on my face the whole time I was reading.
I really hope this isn't the last time we hear from the Fairway Players.
What a delight to be back in the company of the Fairway Players as they rehearse their Christmas pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, in aid of the church roof repairs. The usual hilarious backstabbing, one-upmanship and ludicrous casting and design choices are all evident in the round robins, emails and text messages under scrutiny from the two young lawyers Femi and Charlotte. Can there really have been another murder in this small but active community, and who is it this time. Slyly observed and sharp as ever, this is a short but sweet festive treat not to be missed.
This book should come with a warning not to read it in a public place because omg it made me laugh out loud so many times and got me some very odd looks !!
I was so thrilled to be given an early copy of the book from the publisher and also over the moon to be back with the Fairway players from the previous novel The Appeal and I absolutely loved it. I am actually lost for words to describe what an incredible read the book was it had everything that I love in a story and I can honestly say there isn’t anything about it that I can fault.
So superb writing , a whole cast of wonderful characters and a clever plot Janice Hallett gives us all of these things and more I really can’t praise her enough for giving me such a wonderful reading experience … this is why I read to be taken out of myself and loving every minute of it, so a massive thank you to her.
This is a 100% , 5 star must read please don’t miss it it will light up your day.
My thanks to NetGalley and Serpent’s Tail / Viper / Profile Books for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
So pleased that Janice Hallett has reunited us with the Fairway Players for a Christmas novella set in the same world as "The Appeal", this time in "The Christmas Appeal". It did remind me of "The Play that Goes Wrong" and a series of loveable characters in farcical situations. It would be the perfect book to give a crime-lover at Christmas.
really enjoyed this book. wacky group of characters, would love some more, exploring the exploits that these charters get up to whilst trying to put a play on
This was such an amazing comeback to the Lockwood and the Fairway Players circle! I devoured this in an evening, relishing in how amazingly Hallett works intertwines plot with the email format. Anyone who read the Appeal and loved it will love this seasonal novella as much or even more!
The perfect "cosy crime" Christmas read!
I laughed out loud several times whilst reading the Christmas Appeal which just goes to show how much I enjoyed it.
Comic misunderstandings, cloying and not entirely truthful, round robin Christmas letters, a mishap prone play and talk of a murderer arriving in the area, what more could you ask for?
When a dead Santa is discovered, we're left wondering how it happened and who was involved.
With rivelries amongst the actors simmering, it's interesting to see how this unfolds!
Perfectly written and I enjoyed that it was written in a WhatsApp message style format as it allowed for conversations to flow between the characters.
I absolutely loved Janice Hallett's 'The Appeal' so it was a joy to be given access to 'The Christmas Appeal' - a chance to rejoin the Fairway Players as they grapple with a pantomime, plus an unexpected dead body!
As with 'The Appeal', we're given access to emails and messages that fly between members of the amateur acting society, with occasional commentary on the documents by Charlotte and Femi, the lawyers we met in the first novel who are tasked with unravelling the case. It's fair to say that I missed a lot of clues - but the documents are a joy to read as there is a much more humorous (and obviously festive) focus to this book.
This story follows the Fairway Players as they prepare for a Jack and the Beanstalk charity panto evening in aid of repairing the church roof. There is definitely a power struggle at the helm of the group - the way that Celia undermines Sarah-Jane is cleverly-written and often hilarious (bat patty made me snort out loud!) Throw in a few misunderstandings, some very quirky characters, outlandish rumours and this is the perfect recipe for a fun, festive read. Yes, some of it is kind of incredible and played for laughs (a bit like the panto itself!), but I absolutely loved it. Janice Hallett presents the different voices and perspectives brilliantly - and with a real comic touch.
A lot of the characters will be familiar to fans of 'The Appeal', but there is also fresh blood for the Fairway Players from the new housing estates in the area - cue a lot of snobbery from Celia, of course. Events from 'The Appeal' are referred to, but I don't think you would necessarily need to have read it first - 'The Christmas Appeal' does work as a standalone (even if it would provide spoilers if you then wanted to go back and read the first book).
If you're looking for a fun, Christmassy read, then this is the book for you. It lacks the depth of mystery of the first book (as this is quite short in comparison at about 200 pages), but it makes up for it with Janice Hallett's clever skewering of characters' pretensions and hidden motivations.
A short one but great fun once again. Really enjoy this style of writing and the humour and sarcasm are spot on. Keeps me satisfied for now but can't wait for her next one.
Thank you NetGalley and Serpent's Tail / Viper / Profile Books, Viper for my approval to read and review this book.
Wow, this book was amazing!! I couldn't put it down!! It was lovely to revisit The Fairway Players and they certainly feel like friends now after reading their second book. The premise is they are putting a Christmas Panto - Jack and the beanstalk. It certainly has very memorable moments where you will laugh out loud at what has been written, especially when the comedic moments within the panto itself. It's a fast paced read with plenty of plot twists and turns with a few red herrings thrown in. I highly recommend you read this book.
I do love the inventiveness of Janice Hallett and that the devices she uses are so original. Nevertheless, it is nice to see her go back to her first format in this follow up to "The Appeal". This short story is not as intricate as the original novel but it is still a fun read and it is good to be back in the theatre watching the same backbiting and shenanigans continue. I don't think this one will shock you and it's pretty easy to work out what's going on, but a fun read nevertheless and one that Hallett fans will definitely enjoy.
The Christmas Appeal reunites us with the Fairway Players and god, was it good to have them back.
The brilliantly insufferable snob Sarah-Jane is now co-chair of the players and they’re putting on Jack and The Beanstalk as this years panto.
Poor Sarah-Jane has to deal with busybody Celia trying to sabotage her play AND a body showing up right in the middle of it all.
Lawyers Femi and Charlotte who are looking over evidence to try and solve the case, and the book is told entirely through text messages, emails and police reports as they try to piece together what happened.
It’s probably strange to say I adore a book about somebody dying but I honestly love Janice Hallett’s writing so much, it’s so fun and inventive and this follow up to The Appeal felt like I was returning to old friends. I loved it.
I’m a huge fan of Janice Hallett, I absolutely loved The Appeal, and this shorter christmas story with all of the familiar characters is so wonderful!! It’s gripping, the character development is fabulous, it’s so funny and comic at times, it is a perfect cosy winter mystery. I cannot wait to get a copy of this book so I can lend it to other people. I think this will get people out of reading slumps. This is just the sort of book that makes me fall in love with reading, I am so grateful that I got to read it before publication!
I absolutely adored "The Appeal" by Janice Hallett and was extremely excited to see that another instalment was coming up.
Janice Hallett has returned to her very best form in this book, revisiting many of her beloved previous characters. It was so well-paced with lots of twists and turns along the way in addition to plenty of funny moments and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I particularly appreciated the way the plot unfolded through a range of documents to find the solution and it was extremely clever. A definite five-star read!
Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of The Christmas Appeal in exchange for an honest review.
Oh, what fun it is to read about a one-corpse, sweet-filled play!
What a treat! This short instalment from Janice Hallett revisits lawyers Femi, Charlotte and Roderick Tanner KC and The Fairway Players, who fans of the author will remember from her extraordinary bestseller ‘The Appeal’. It’s three to four years since the events of that book and it would appear that the amateur dramatics group are still battling on with their productions. As ever, we find that the sniping, conniving and duplicity continues through WhatsApp and emails and we also meet new characters ready to lend a hand with the 2022 Christmas pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.
Fans of Janice Hallett’s previous novels will already be familiar with the highly original format; I still very much enjoy following the plot through the correspondence of The Fairway Players, police interviews, newspaper articles, plus Femi and Charlotte’s observations. The plot is fun, with a gentle sprinkling of social and moral issues to provide food for thought – the book starts with a quote from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ after all. If I had to provide any criticism it’s that I didn’t find the sweets plotline added anything particularly, but I can see that it makes for a few comic moments.
That said, nothing but five stars for this Christmas cracker, a delightful ‘amuse-bouche’ while we eagerly await the new full-length book from Janice Hallett in 2024!
My thanks to Rachel Quin and the elves at Viper for the advance copy on which this review is based.
Everyone loves a Christmas Special and this is definitely something special for this Christmas.
I’m not shy about my love for amateur theatre, so it’s great to be embroiled in yet another mystery involving The Fairway Players – although surely signing up new members is going to be a challenge after yet another murder.
The perfect boxing day read. This book is more than just a stocking filler, it’s a wonderful Christmas treat.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Brilliant - I loved returning to the Fairway Players in this fun novella. I found the style of the book just as interesting and innovative as when I read The Appeal. I liked that it was mostly the same characters with a few new faces.
This was a compelling read. I loved the Fairway players. They were such a diverse bunch. The death of a father christmas was a real who dunnit. The usual politics were playing out in the amateur dramatic group. Femi and Charlotte were really thorough in their investigation of who killed santa. Loved it.
Loved the bringing back of the Fairway Players and another play gone wrong! I was completely in the dark and had no idea what was going to happen in this - as I was throughout the Appeal as well. I was laughing out loud at parts. A funny, fabulous festive read!
If you loved The Appeal, you'll relly love The Christmas Appeal. The gang are all back and in a rollercoaster of a story about life in the local am-dram society.
I absolutely devoured it and stayed up way passed bedtime to finish it.
Janice Hallet has knocked it out of the park again.
I mean, is there a more coveted book out this winter time?
It is fascinating how easy this format becomes to read. When I first read The Appeal, it took a little while to figure out, especially as it was a digital ARC so the formatting wasn't 100% as it would be in the book. And then The Twyford Code, which became a little easier. And then the Alperton Angels, which became second nature. And now with this, which is again written in email and message form. And I instantly got to grips with it. It's such a unique form of writing, one I'd never thought of before, but now I can't think that any of these books could be written in any other way. It's a stroke of genius.
I was also a bit worried that, because The Appeal came out a couple of years ago, and I've read a lot of books since then, that I wouldn't remember the characters or the context anymore, but you just immediately get absorbed into it. I can't explain how, but it's like you know these people personally and like you've never been away from them.
Janice wonderfully sets the scene, with over half the book gone before the dead body appears. This might have felt drawn out, a bit slow, but it's expertly done. It gives us the context and we really get invested so that when THE THING happens, we're fully in it and desperate to see what happens next.
We find most of the old cast - the loved, the liked, and the disliked - but there are also some new additions which help freshen it up. There are a lot of characters but none seem to overbear the others (unless that is their character's trait). Enough time is given to each, even in a book this short, and I have really grown to love them.
It is a short book at just over 200 pages, and only took me a couple of hours to get through. It's the ideal read for a cosy winter evening (even if I did read it when it was 28 degrees outside)! She manages so much in such a short time but it never feels lacking in any way.
I generally don't like long books as I never feel they warrant being that long and therefore feel too much effort to read. But I would have gladly read more of this, even double the length, because it is so easy to read and just thrilling.
I have no doubt that Janice will continue with this winning streak of books. She's one of the most unique, original and fantastic writers around, and a new release is always cause for celebration, and so far, I haven't met a Janice Hallett book I didn't immediately love. And I do believe there is a new book due out in September 2024, and I'm already ticking off the days.
Janice Hallett is an author to look out for, her books are without exception a joy to read. Fun and unusual, it’s rare to come across writing that keeps you engaged throughout.
Whilst this book includes characters from her original book The Appeal, there is no need to have read this first, although I suspect if you haven’t you will be off to buy it straightaway!
I really enjoyed this book which I whizzed through far too quickly, I was disappointed when it ended! I loved The Appeal but you don’t strictly need to read it first, although there is somewhat of a spoiler and I think you get more out of it if you know some of the characters. Janice Hallett excels at delivering such distinct voices through text messages and emails that you know who you are reading immediately and means you can become completely immersed. Definitely a good festive read or ideal Christmas present.
I'd meant to put off reading this as long as possible since it's (still) summer-ish. However I wanted something light and enjoyable plus I loved The Appeal.
I loved this Christmas edition as well, if not more. Its certainly funnier than the earlier novel. This is a nice short, festive romp back to the original book and is written in the same style - texts, emails etc. Mr Tanner (the retired QC) has set another puzzle for the trainees which involves a lot of the same players as before.
The rivalry between Celia/Joel (OBE) and Sarah-Jane/Kevin is ramped up another notch as all things are at Christmas. Sarah-Jane us determined to gave a classier production of the Christmas play although she's chosen a 1970's rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk so that's unlikely.
Suffice to say the build up is funny, the play is a wonderful farce and the aftermath is interesting.
Loved The Appeal. Love this. The publisher mooted this as a quick Christmas read so hats off to Ms Hallett for rising to and surpassing the challenge.
Thanks very much for the Christmas gift Netgalley, Atria Books and Rachel Quin for the advance review copy. This would make a great stocking filler/quick Christmas read.
If you loved The Appeal and want a daft, funny and festive dopamine hit this is for you. The Fairway Players are putting on a pantomime and there are all kinds of nefarious activities getting in the way. Old rivalries and scores must be settled and murder lurks in the wings. I'm not a fan of Christmas, but it's much more tolerable with a body count.
In 'The Christmas Appeal' by Janice Hallett, lawyers Femi Hassan and Charlotte Holroyd are sent a batch of documents by retired KC Roderick Tanner relating to a crime that took place amongst The Fairway Players during their staging of the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. Sarah-Jane McDonald the leader of the players, and Celia Halliday (a woman who believes she should be the leader of the players) are caught up in a power struggle, beautifully displayed through text messages, emails, and police transcripts. Amongst the hilarity of an amateur pantomime and the demands placed on the players by the community (e.g. gender neutral sweet bags), the power struggle leads to the Halliday's taking actions that reveal a hidden crime.
Hallett's epistemological style works brilliantly as always, and nicely highlights the difference between what is said in public and what is said in private. There were many times I laughed out loud and with recognition. The story is probably lighter and more linear than other Hallett stories, but this makes it ideal for a cosy Christmas read. My only sadness is that I've already read it, and can't enjoy it next to the Christmas Tree!
Laugh out loud funny.
Exceptionally clever and brilliantly written.
The only downside was I kept interrupting my sister so I could read her extracts!
This was as amazing as "The Appeal", I love this kind of misteries. You read emails, and messages, between all the characters, without knowing what is going on until the end. It was also funny, I enjoyed it a lot.
I'm going to keep reading Janice Hallett books for sure.
Thanks to Netgalley for the amazing book!
I enjoyed returning to Lockwood and seeing what the Fairway Players are getting up to for Christmas.
There were plenty of familiar faces alongside some new ones, but the same old attitudes and squabbles are still there.
I didn't see that ending coming.
Written in the same format as the original Appeal, this festive version is just as well written and tightly plotted. It is also absolutely hilarious! An define ‘must read’ for Christmas this year.
This is the first book I have read by Janice Hallett, and it was a total delight!
I liked the way the story was spun out over many email and whatsapp messages. The characters were all brought to life through these messages, and the mystery solved at the end.
I will be purchasing the first book in this series, and look forward to meeting the Fairway Players again.
I really enjoyed this Christmas special which is a delight to read. It was fun catching up with the Lockwood characters and had the added bonus of making me laugh out loud more than once. It's just the right length to read on a winter afternoon with a cup of tea /glass of Christmas cheer and a mince pie!
Thank you to netgalley and serpents tail for an advance copy of this book.
After the events of 2018, you might think it was the end of the Fairway Players. But the show must go on, and it’s pantomime season!
With a 30-year-old beanstalk, power-grabbing cast members and disobedient dogs, the amateur dramatics group’s co-chairs already have their work cut out for them…
But when a particularly macabre challenge comes their way, will the Fairfield Players be able to pick it up, give it a wink, and firmly knock it out of the park?
I’m so pleased to be back in the company of the Fairway Players! A festive follow-up to Janice Hallett’s 2021 bestseller “The Appeal”, the group of amateur actors are tackling their annual Christmas panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, with this year’s appeal being an ever-popular cause — the repair of the church roof.
However, as with its predecessor, we know all is not well, as the story is being told (via emails, text messages and police interviews), by Roderick Tanner, KC (retired) to young lawyers Femi and Charlotte, with the challenge of working out what’s been going on in the small town of Lockwood.
A few years have passed from the events that shook the Players in the original story, and there has since been a power struggle for control of the group. The passive aggressive, tit-for-tat emails between current co-chair Sarah-Jane MacDonald and aspiring leader Celia Halliday had me laughing out loud, as did a particularly unfortunate attempt to organise the party bags for Santa to distribute!
Janice Hallett is once again on top form, and the task of distinguishing between small-town pettiness and actual foul play is as challenging, and funny, as ever. Definitely one to put on your Christmas list for a great festive read!
How wonderful to be back in Lower Lockwood for Christmas, keeping up with the antics of the Fairway Players!
The Fairway Players are rehearsing for their Christmas pantomime: Jack and the Beanstalk, to help raise money for the church roof. This story, told through emails, text messages and county police interview reports, paints a picture of a theatre group where members manipulate and undermine one another. There is drama not only on stage, but certainly more than enough off stage as well.
Cleverly told by Jannice Hallett, and like it's predecessor The Appeal a gripping book. Hooked from the first page in, I wish it lasted a little longer.
Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for my eARC in return for my honest review.
I was delighted to be offered the chance to read an early copy of this, I adored The Appeal, it was such an interesting story.
The Christmas Appeal is a novella that throws us right back in to the delightfully backstabbing, underhanded and squabbling Fairway Players as they try to arrange a charity production of Jack and the Beanstalk in aid if the Church roof.
The Christmas Appeal uses the same story telling structure as it’s predecessor – we get the story primarily through a series of texts and emails between various groups of Fairway Players with occasional interjections from Femi and Charlotte as they try to peace the case together.
This book was everything I wanted it to be – we got to see the shifting power structure among the Players, the moaning behind the scenes, some beautifully comedic moments (I won’t spoiler them) and the panic felt by people at various points leapt off the page.
A wonderful extra insight into the Player’s world – if you loved The Appeal you won’t want to miss this.
I love Janice Hallett’s writing style, the way the entire story is told in different forms of media, such as emails, text messages, etc.
‘The Christmas Appeal' is a contemporary, cosy mystery mystery, set in the feverish and amusing world of amateur dramatics with The Fairway Players'. A follow-up to 'The Appeal‘.
If you haven’t already read ‘The Appeal’, go do it now, the are both amazing. 5*
The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett.
Crime Mystery | 208 Pages
Publication Date: 26 October 2023
One dead Santa. A town full of suspects. Will you discover the truth?
Welcome back to the Fairway Players, a new pantomime and a brand new scandal. This year they are performing Jack and the Beanstalk. Olufemi Hassan and Charlotte Holroyd are tasked once again by the now retired KC Roderick Tanner to read through all the correspondence given to them to work out the mystery. This book is told the same way as The Appeal by emails, text messages/whats-app messages. The Fairway Players are graced yet again with the Beanstalk they used many, many years ago except this time it is hiding a dead body. Whose body was found dead in the beanstalk and was it murder or a case of accidental death?
It felt like coming back to old friends – I absolutely loved “The Appeal” and was so excited when I was contacted to read the new novella that I dropped everything and read it straight away. Jam packed with all the drama needed, new characters alongside the old ones we have come to love. This was a fast read for me and I enjoyed every moment.
Thank you Viper and Netgalley for sending me a gifted copy of this e-book for my honest book review.
This Christmas novella revisiting the cast of Janice Hallett's wonderful novel The Appeal is no doubt going to end up in a number of Christmas stockings this year. I gorged it all in one go, easy to do at a manageable 200 pages. It contains all the same wit and humour from the first book, as well as a new mystery to unravel. Because of the length of the book, I don't think the mystery was particularly complicated and in that respect it doesn't quite match up to The Appeal, but it's such an entertaining, funny read anyway that I don't think it matters at all.
I loved the Appeal and was beyond excited when I heard that the Christmas Appeal featuring the Fairway Players would be available in October. A fabulous quick read with all the ingredients we've come to expect from Janice Hallett's book.
A fantastic stocking filler for your favourite bookworm for Christmas
The Fairway Players are back! And this time it's the annual panto, filled with the usual issues over who plays which part, and how the scenery will get in place. There are some new people in the Players, but with Sarah-Jane now the chair things have moved on a little. The new estate is causing some issues in town, there's confusion over the sweets for the kids in the audience, and the day of the show is getting closer.
It's the same format as The Appeal, so if you enjoyed that then you will enjoy this. The cast of characters has changed slightly, but there's still the enjoyable aspect of working out who knows more than they're saying, and wondering what is going to come apart first. I genuinely laughed out loud at some scenes, and overall it's a very enjoyable book.
Having read and loved The Appeal, it was amazing to be back with The Fairway Players as they prepare for their Christmas Panto. This Christmas themed sequel still has all the charm and wit of the original and when a dead body turns up it also brings the suspense of the first book too. It's laid out in the same way, with emails and memos etc creating a timeline of events, and Femi and Charlotte make a welcome return as the lawyers raking through it all to find the culprit. I highly recommend, my only complaint is that it was too short!!
Thanks to Viper, Janice Hallett and Netgalley for the ARC.
I had so much fun with The Appeal by Janice Hallett and I recommended it to all of my friends and family. It was one of my top books of 2022. When I heard that there was a second book, I was desperate to read it. Thank you to the publishers and Net Galley for providing me with an E-Arc of The Christmas Appeal.
The beauty of Janice Hallett books is that, from page one, you are thrown straight into the story. Short, mixed media conversations are loaded with information in a very well crafted way. Characters are instantly recognisable from even the shortest interactions and you know exactly what their "angle" is. You don't need to have set foot near an amateur dramatics association to recognise this particular aspect of British life, of British people, is well depicted.
This is a short book but I had so much fun with it.
The Appeal, Janice Hallett’s celebrated crime debut, is the one book of hers that I’ve not yet read. Having read and loved The Christmas Appeal, and knowing that it is set in the same madcap world of the The Fairway Players, I must make catching up with that very first book a priority. The characters, the set-up, the humour, intentional or not, were absolutely fabulous and right up my street.
Now I grew up in a family where it was almost a right of passage to join the local amateur dramatics groups. It started with the very local group who once a year, in the February half term, would put on the annual town panto, so you probably understand why this book resonated with me so much. I mean, it was never this dramatic, but still. The Christmas Appeal, as you might expect from the title, is set amongst the rehearsals and ill fated performance of this most traditional endeavours, the pantomime, with The Fairway Players putting on a charity performance of Jack and the Beanstalk in order to raise funds for the church hall roof.
Panto is not something that is meant to be taken very seriously, and Janice Hallett taps into this perfectly with a story which is lighthearted and tongue in cheek, with all the madness and farce of the best panto productions, amplified to such a degree that you might be forgiven for thinking someone may have been product testing some of the “sweets” that are purchased for the children attending the show.
Rivalry between fellow players over who should really be the chair of the group, adds a constant display of oneupmanship, in its own right comedic and chuckle some. We’ve all met a Celia Halliday in our lifetime, the Hyacinth Bucket of The Fairway Players, and the am-dram thesps, who would do anything to secure that best part, could be literally any of a number of work colleagues – we all know the type. They are strangely authentic and each one brought a smile to my face for different reasons.
This wouldn’t be much of a mystery if it was all just about the jealousy of one family (the Hallidays) towards another (the MacDonalds). This is definitely a story of double-crossing, secrets and pent up frustrations, and nothing is quite what it seems. From the most innocent of misunderstandings, to a very high stakes error in judgment, right through to a drunk pantomime horse and the unexpected early appearance of Santa Claus, much to the delight of the children and the horror of the cast, this story entertained from the start.
Told in the authors original style of a series of emails, statements, and text messages, and with interludes as the legal eagles, Charlotte and Femi try to decipher the case files sent to them by Roderick Tanner, this is a fast paced, fun, highly witty foray into the dangerous world of pantomime, and I loved every minute of it. Definitely recommended,
Excellent, excellent, excellent! She's done it again! What a joy it was to be back with The Fairway Players and it was absolutely hilarious too. The way Janice Hallett captures those small village relationships and the gossiping through mixed media is just utter magic.
I devoured this festive read in about 1.5 hours - and I'd say that even though it's a festive read, and is about the pantomime, it's not like Christmas is rammed down your throat. You could read this anytime of the year.
Only slight criticism (which doesn't affect a 5* rating) is that having read this and The Twyford Code on Kindle, I do think Hallett's books are best enjoyed in physical format rather than ebook. I think the formatting is sometimes slightly off and actually, something about her books make me want to flick back and check something I've previously read which isn't easily done on Kindle.
I really enjoyed reading this return to the Fairway Players. It was a great fun read that made me smile and try to puzzle out the mystery in equal measures. Janice Hallett is a great author who brings all the characters to life. A really great read. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for giving me access to an early copy of this festive novel.
Another great one from Janice Hallett!
We’re back with the Fairway Players and with all the excitement that goes into putting on a panto! As before with The Appeal, we’re given texts, emails and newspaper clippings to work out alongside Femi and Charlotte the whodunnit! I really like this way of setting out the story and slowly revealing all the twists and turns.
All in all a fab festive sequel!
In this festive follow-up to The Appeal, young lawyers Femi and Charlotte are again asked to read a bundle of emails, WhatsApp messages and other correspondence and present their conclusions about what has happened to Roderick Tanner KC. The action once again centres around amateur dramatic group the Fairway Players. now with a reduced cast and changed dynamics following the conclusion of The Appeal.
The Fairway Players, now chaired by Sarah-Jane MacDonald and her husband Kevin, are preparing for their annual panto. Sarah-Jane lacks the unquestioned authority enjoyed by her predecessors, and has Celia and Joel Halliday trying to undermine her at every turn in a bid to take over as chairs. The Christmas Appeal is much more outwardly humorous and altogether less serious than The Appeal, and there are lots of laughs to be found in the passive-aggressive communications between the two families.
This isn't just a 'whodunnit'; it's also a 'what has been done', and there are red herrings everywhere as Femi and Charlotte try to figure out what has happened and to whom.
The Christmas Appeal is a short, light-hearted mystery with plenty of warmth and humour, and a welcome chance to catch up with some of the characters from The Appeal.
Of the many, many books I have read this year, The Christmas Appeal is absolutely one of my stand out favourites. If you're new to Janice Hallett's novels, the whole book is written as a series of emails and messages between the main characters, with a few solicitor conversations interspersed.
This style lends itself beautifully to the politics of a local amateur dramatics production of Jack and the Beanstalk. With the current co-chairs Sarah-Jane and Kevin Macdonald at war with the previous incumbents Celia and Joel Halliday, things get heated straight away. You won't be able to stop yourself giggling at the full on 'Karen' tone of some of the emails, plus the exchanges between teenager Harley and his parents are classic.
Whilst there are plenty of humourous moments, there's also a dark side to the panto, especially when a mummified Santa pops out of the (potentially asbestos laden) giant beanstalk!
This book is not the longest so it makes for a brilliant weekend read, you won't want to put it down!
I absolutely loved The Appeal, so I was excited to see that Hallett had written a follow-up. And not only that, but a festive follow-up too!
Written in the same style, chopping between email exchanges, text messages, and other correspondence as Femi and Charlotte return to piece this puzzle together, The Christmas Appeal is another gripping and unpredictable mystery, you really will struggle to put it down. And at only 200 pages long, you won't have to!
This is the perfect binge-able crime to get cosy with this festive season. The story keeps you constantly engaged and your theories ticking away, while the characters have you laughing and the twists add in a few shocks. At first, I thought the story was wrapping up too quickly, but I ended up loving how everything was tied together, and am yet again left impressed by Hallett's intelligent mind.
If you enjoyed The Appeal, you are guaranteed to love this one. If you haven't read anything by Hallett before, this will definitely get you adding all of her other books to your Christmas list!
“The Christmas Appeal” is a perfect festive read, amusing, atmospheric and engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed being reacquainted with the Fairway Players through their somewhat farcical but meaningful adventures as they plan, rehearse and perform their yearly panto.
The law abiding characters in the book are caricatures of many you might find in local committees be it school council, am dram, kids clubs the list is endless well meaning, hard working folk but there are always those who gossip, hide secrets & longings and there are always people uncomfortable with change. As for the not so law abiding elements hopefully there are fewer of those scattered round the country hiding in villages and towns discreetly joining said committees and groups but they do make for wonderful reading material, mysteries, mayhem and gossip.
I love Janice Hallet’s unique style that lets the mysteries unfold through texts, e-mails, newspaper clippings and Whatsapp conversations. I was completely immersed in the world of the Fairway Players as seen through these snippets and correspondence between two young lawyers, Femi and Charlotte, as they try to sift through catty messages, gossip, round robin Christmas letters and more to see what and if there is an actual mystery or murder to be solved. The book is cleverly formatted and we see all the correspondence / documents just as Femi and Charlotte do and as we read we can surmise and investigate too.
By now I've read every Janice Hallett book and she's become a favourite author. The Christmas Appeal is no different. It was so good to go back to these characters in the aftermath of the events of The Appeal. Sometimes when authors revisit a popular story it can be hit or miss, but in this case I loved it. And that ending! always explosive.
Yes, I’ve done it, used the C-word in October! But only for a very special reason, you understand. To talk abuot The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett. This charming novella is an accompaniment and follow up to her best-selling murder mystery, The Appeal.
If you’re not familiar, The Appeal is a very clever murder mystery centred around the escapades (including a murder) of an amateur dramatic group, The Fairway Players. And, as it turns out, they are in a spot of bother again.
Like all of Janice Hallett’s books, The Christmas Appeal is structured as a modern epistolary novel, with the story told through primarily emails and texts. I had such a good time reading this. It’s just so very funny and tongue-in-cheek in tone, it absolutely does tip into slapstick territory at times but in the very best way. It embraces the very British sense of humour when it comes to small town passive-aggression, personal grudges and Christmas traditions.
The Fairway Players are putting on their Christmas pantomine and, as she is newly leading the group. Sarah-Jane wants it to be spectacular. She decides on a panto classic, Jack & the Beanstalk and hires a huge 3D beanstalk for the occasion. Imagine her horror when a dead body is found inside it… just who was the body, and how did it get there?
As this is not a full length novel, it isn’t a true sequel to The Appeal but there are lots of direct references and subtle hints to life since the events of that book.
If you want to put yourself firmly in the Christmas spirit, you must read this funny, touching mystery that’s all packaged up with some festive good cheer – what’s not to love? Bring on the mince pies.
The cast of Janice Hallett's brilliant debut The Appeal put on a panto in this short sequel - and it goes exactly as well as you might expect. The Christmas Appeal is a ridiculous romp, packed with wordplay, clever clues and small-town drama both onstage and off. It's a festive farce for crime-lovers; a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Oh yes this is what Im here for - a brilliant Janice Hallett Christmas special, definitely one to read for that Christmas murdery fix!
Taking us back to the Fairway Players with some familiar faces and some newbies too, 'The Christmas Appeal' is an exemplary follow up to 'The Appeal'. Told in the same multi-media format as previously, we get transcripts of emails, phone calls, WhatsApps and of course the cringing Round Robin letter that sets the scene so perfectly.
This time the Fairway Players are staging their annual Christmas panto, under the leadership of a new Chair, Sarah-Jane. But the previous Chair is not taking it well, determined to subtly undermine Sarah-Jane at every opportunity. How far will she go? Our detectives Charlotte and Femi have been tasked with finding out what has happened to who, why, how and when!
It delivered everything I was hoping for and more, in one beautifully wrapped Christmas package. A festive five stars.
I am a big fan of The Appeal and so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read an early copy of The Christmas Appeal. Although the events follow on from The Appeal and features some familiar characters; it is a new story and would work as a stand alone.
For me the success of these books is the unique style. The book is written in a mixture of messages and emails, which not only help the story flow but also draws you in and you find it difficult to put down! This format makes the narrative accessible and familiar, adding a level of authenticity and humour. Despite only showing us the characters through their messages and emails; Janice Hallett is able to reveal a lot about them. I felt I knew them and had the measure of them.
On one level it’s a mystery story, the clues are laid down and the reader is challenged to work out the solution before the characters. On another level, it is a humorous glimpse into the workings of a small community group and although their exploits are exaggerated, the relationships and politics will be recognisable to a lot of readers.
I thoroughly enjoyed being back in Lower Lockwood and this felt like a perfect festive read. I thoroughly recommend immersing yourself in the antics of The Fairway Players over the Christmas season.
Absolute joy to read from start to finish. I love Janice writing and the unique way she tells a story. She is fast becoming an autobuy author to me. If you liked the appeal by the same author pick this up.
I love Christmas, I love mystery and I love that it all starts with a dead Santa. This book I just couldn't put down and I must say I finished it in no time as I loved it that much.
This book is filled with everything you want in a good book. There is Christmas (of course), drama, secrets, humour, murder and mayhem. This book/novella was just the thing I needed to read, quick easy and lots of fun and entertainment. And although I know nothing about this author and the other book so many reviewers have alluded to, I didn't miss a thing but I now have to go find the other books as I feel I must be missing out.
Great read, loved it.
Thank you NetGalley and Serpent's Tail / Viper / Profile Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.
Janice Hallett only writes clever and entertaining books, this one is the perfect example of how she mixes humour, social satire and a description of the relationship amongst the member of the The Fairway Players.
There's a good balance amongst these elements: the power plays, the snobism and class distinction, the secrets hidden behind the facade.
I had a lot of fun but I think there was also food for thought as sharp and witty social remarks are spot on.
This is a story set at Christmas time but it's not a Christmas story. There's any magic moment with the snow falling, there's plenty of very funny moments.
It was a great follow up to The Appeal, an original and fresh novel that I read in one sitting.
I strongly recommend it.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
It's Christmas and The Fairway Players are back rehearsing their pantomime. Sarah -Jane is now the chair of the Players but she is getting a lot of grief from other members. This is such an amusing tale, a oversized beanstalk, a dead body and so much more.
The book is written as The Appeal with lawyers trying to crack the case, looking at emails, messages and police evidence. Party bags take on a whole new meaning in this engaging and entertaining festive tale. If you loved The Appeal as I did you will be delighted to return to Lower Lockwood and Janice Hallett’s clever take on a murder mystery novel. One to add to the Christmas reads list !
A great novella from Janice Hallett. This is a follow up to The Appeal, but I read that so long ago I couldn't really remember all the details, so I feel this is very easy to read as a stand alone. It's Christmas themed, but only in as much as the plot revolves around the village panto - Christmas itself just gets the odd passing reference, so this can really be enjoyed at anytime. Janice Hallett is the master of the "found footage" genre of mystery. There is no story as such, just a pile of evidence to read through to solve the mystery. I find her books compelling and entertaining and will admit I tend to just read for enjoyment and forget about looking for clues, but the clues are here if you pay attention. Because this is a novella I would recommend it to anyone who is not sure about the "found footage" genre. I have tried to read a few in the past and have always given up because I have found them irritating. Janice Hallett is the first person I have found who manages to make a very readable story out of a pile of documents.
Thank you Netgalley and Serpent’s Tail/Viper for this ARC. Available 26th October!
LOVED THIS SO MUCH!
I am completely obsessed with Janice Hallet’s style of writing and was so incredibly excited to receive this new book.
The Christmas Appeal follows on from the OG The Appeal with the return of the Fairway Players and the production of their new panto, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ with a little sprinkling of murder on the side.
Featuring old and new characters, this book was incredibly masterful with how they were developed. I also found myself laughing at so many of the interactions between the character’s.
Janice Hallett has again mastered her storytelling with SMS Texts, Emails and What’s App messages.
This book was everything that I would hope a sequel to be.
Christmas came in early this year with this continuation (almost felt like) of the Appeal, which I had thoroughly enjoyed. The Christmas Appeal was another great read too, which I won't doubt to recommend.
Thanks to NetGalley, the editor and the author for the opportunity to access this copy.
A short follow-up on The Appeal and it certainly didn't disappoint. It is a much lighter reading than its predecessor and features almost all the previous characters, therefor I would recommend to read The Appeal first.
Around Christmas the Fairway Players are rehearsing Jack and the Beanstalk and everything that could go wrong does, even the corpse of Santa falling out of the beanstalk on stage. It is crazy, funny and exactly what a pantomime should be!
If you are looking for a short and fun read around Christmas, without the usual syrup but some dark humor instead, pick up this book and you will not be disappointed !
A sincere thanks to NetGalley and Serpent's Tail / Viper / Profile Books for an advanced copy in exchange of honest review.
If you’re looking for a highly entertaining cosy Christmas murder mystery, look no further! This is just the perfect read for the festive season when you’re busy and you want a little break in between the pages of a good book. Janice Hallett has served up a truly festive treat: deliciously sharp sarcasm; humour galore; competitive tensions; village politics and gossip; and of course a murder mystery.
What a treat it was to be back with the Fairview Players, and Charlotte and Femi as they sift through the pages of transcripts sent to them by their old mentor Roderick Tanner QC. I laughed out loud so many times at the priceless words of Celia and loved the new dynamics amongst the cast. Again, I really enjoyed this format and obviously found myself joining in out loud with Charlotte and Femi as they discussed the evidence and tried to work out what was going on!
With huge thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an E-arc in exchange for a review.