- Author: Janice Hallett
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Murder Mystery
- No. of pages: 460
- Dates read: 09.08.2021-10.08.2021
- Star Rating: 5 stars
Plot: Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death. Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed. Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered. Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?
So, this book was recommended to me by the bookseller at my local Waterstones. I was just browsing while waiting for my train and noticed their display for this book and the bookseller came over raving about how good it was. Well, I just gambled and I am so glad that I did!
For those who don’t know this book is known as an epistolary novel. This means that the book is made up of letters and other varying documents to tell the story rather than using prose like we are all accustomed to. I have only read this kind of book once before with the Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and I remembered really enjoying it which made me excited to give this book a chance. This book in particular uses emails, text messages, audio transcripts and online articles to tell the story and I was super engaged with this kind of storytelling.
The plot was by far one of the most engaging and exciting mystery plots I have ever read. This book is marketed as a murder mystery but the murder doesn’t happen until after the halfway mark. Normally, I would be struggling with a book like this as the murder is the main draw of the story but the amount of interesting and engaging content that is in the book is so big and super juicy that I forgot a murder was even meant to happen. I was so engaged in figuring out other elements of the story and character intentions that it didn’t matter if the murder didn’t happen I would be purely satisfied just following this beginning storyline. When the murder does occur it just adds a whole other level to the plot with all the additional information you are given in the first half.
Also this kind of storytelling meant that I was flying through this book. Not only is the plot super engaging and enticing, you literally cannot put it down, but you’re also essentially just reading dialogue. It’s all emails and texts, in one sitting I read 150 pages. I read this book in 2 days! Just 2! The first thing I did when I woke up was continue the story. I needed to know what happened.
Disclaimer! There are a lot of characters! I personally didn’t have an issue with this. I got used to the size of the cast and mentally made note on who the bigger characters and personalities were so I didn’t find it hard in trying to keep track of who everyone was. There is an instant where the author gives you a list of the most important characters which you can keep referring back to which is great but once you know who the main people are it’s super easy to follow.
The characters themselves are so varied and interesting. You have super naive Issy and takes no fools Sarah-Jane. What I like about this book is you are really able to tell the different voices apart and I love watching these characters interact with each other. Just from the way they send their emails, who’s super chatty and who just sends a one-liner. Who ends their emails with kisses and who sends their emails with their official signature. Despite not knowing how these characters look or what their gestures are you can tell a whole lot through their speech which was super interesting. My favourite character had to be Issy, I found her to be super intriguing.
My favourite element of this book is how you’re promoted to play detective. You are implored to go back and re-read elements of the story with new information that you are given. I actually annotated this book, highlighting important passages and writing down my thoughts and theories. It is the most fun I have had with a book and I loved trying to guess what was going to happen at the end.
Overall, this was an exceptionally well developed novel that is doing something I don’t see many books do. I highly recommend this book to mystery lovers.
The next book I will be reviewing is The Binding by Bridget Collins! Super excited for this one!