• Book Review

    The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett | Book Review

    The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett | Book ReviewThe Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett
    Published by Serpent's Tail on 26th October 2023
    Genres: Fiction / Thrillers / Crime
    Pages: 208
    Format: Audiobook

    One dead Santa. A town full of suspects. Will you discover the truth?

    Christmas in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, to raise money for the church roof appeal. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking amongst the amateur dramatics enthusiasts. Sarah-Jane is fending off threats to her new position as Chair, the fibreglass beanstalk might be full of asbestos, and a someone is intent on ruining the panto even before the curtain goes up.

    Of course there's also the matter of the dead body. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they read the round robins, examine the emails and pore over the police transcripts. Will the show go on?

    I adored The Appeal so I was so happy to see that Janice Hallett was bringing out another story set in the same town. I ended up listening to this one on audio because I felt like it suited the tone of the novel better, and I was correct. While reading the print copy I struggled to get into the story, but on audio I had no problems at all and completely flew through it.

    The Christmas Appeal is a lot of fun and I really enjoyed myself as I listened to the drama about the beanstalk, a panto, and a dead Father Christmas.

    I found that certain characters were written very stereotypically, but it wasn’t bad enough to ruin my enjoyment.

    My husband also listened in to some parts and was laughing out loud, so that’s a really good endorsement!

  • Book Review

    Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister | Book Review

    Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister | Book ReviewJust Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister
    Published by HarperCollins Publishers on August 1, 2023
    Genres: Fiction / Thrillers / Crime
    Pages: 496

    Twenty-two-year-old Olivia has been missing for one day...and counting. She was last seen on CCTV, entering a dead-end alley. And not coming back out again.

    Julia, the detective heading up the search for Olivia, thinks she knows what to expect. A desperate family, a ticking clock, and long hours away from her husband and daughter. But she has no idea just how close to home this case is going to get.

    Because the criminal at the heart of the disappearance has something she never expected. His weapon isn't a gun, or a knife: it's a secret. Her worst one. And her family's safety depends on one thing: Julia must NOT find out what happened to Olivia - and must frame somebody else for her murder.

    If you find her, you will lose everything. What would you do?

    This clever and endlessly surprising thriller is laced with a clever look at family and motherhood, and cements Gillian McAllister as a major talent in the world of suspense and a master of creating ethical dilemmas that show just how murky the distinction between right and wrong can be.

    I read and loved this author’s previous book, Wrong Place Wrong Time, and so I jumped at the chance to request Just Another Missing Person when it was put up on Netgalley. Gillian McAllister clearly has a talent for plotting and introducing mind bending twists. Because I didn’t bother to read the synopsis for this one before jumping into it (out of excitement!), I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if it would have similar speculative elements to Wrong Place Wrong Time or if it would just be a flat out thriller. Just Another Missing Person is the latter, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.

    Just Another Missing Person has a very slow start. It took me about 50% of the book to start caring about any of the characters because it just dragged. Admittedly, once the twists start happening the novel picks up and heads in several different directions, and so I flew through the last half of the book. It’s just such a shame that it took me forever to get into it in the first place, because I was so excited for it!

    I think reading Just Another Missing Person will be a whole new experience upon a reread. There are definitely things that you can pick out from the first 50% that lead up to the twists in the latter half of the book, and I think it would be very interesting to go back and reread now that I know the twists. I’m going to have to wait for the paperback release for that!

    I always seem to enjoy the way McAllister tackles family relationships, particularly marriage and mother-child relationships. I was a bit shocked when I read the acknowledgements and found that she doesn’t have children herself yet, because the way she handles these relationships seems to speak to her own experiences. Maybe she’s just very empathetic!

    Overall, I really enjoyed Just Another Missing Person. Particularly the last half and all the juicy plot twists and drama. It’s not as strong of a plot as Wrong Place Wrong Time but I found this one to be very clever and I was in awe of the twists in some places.