This was a pretty unique reading experience! I picked it up because of the pretty cover (the American one is shit, so yes I did buy it from the UK) and because it sad ‘Sunday Times Bestseller’ on it, and it’s a mystery. I am basic. (In my defense, the last time I did all of that, I ended up with The Thursday Murder Club, which everyone who loves mysteries should read immediately.)
For all y’all Americans, the appeal in question is not a legal appeal, which is what I thought going in. Apparently in the UK, they call pleas for crowdfunding medical expenses ‘appeals’, whereas here we just say ‘I donated to so-and-so’s GoFundMe’ and it’s much less fancy sounding than ‘I donated to Poppy’s appeal,’ which is what’s happening here. Poppy is a two year old girl who has recently been diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer called Medulloblastoma and her family is trying to raise £250,000 (roughly $338,000 US) for experimental drugs from the US that aren’t yet approved in the UK. Her grandparents run a theater company called the Fairway Players, and all the members are eager to help with fundraising. This includes a various cast of characters, including brothers, sisters, meddling neighbors, gossips, two nurses recently moved back from the African continent where they had been volunteering with an organization not unlike Doctors Without Borders, and an extremely emotionally needy and clingy young woman named Issy who brought the nurses into the group because she met them at work.
The gimmick here is that the story isn’t told to us through traditional prose, but through a compilation of emails, texts, newspaper clippings, and other types of documentation (like flyers, playbills, etc) that are meant to act as evidence. Two law students who we only know through their texts to each other and their professor, have been assigned the task of looking at the case with fresh eyes and uncovering all the clues as to what really happened before whoever was murdered was murdered (we don’t find out who it was until well over halfway through). We as readers, of course, are implicitly invited to do the same.
It really was fun trying to work out what all the different clues were, and while I had absolutely no hope of figuring out the mystery (meaning the ending was a complete surprise) I did manage to work out what bits of information were important. Honestly, I prefer it that way. I don’t like when I figure out what’s going on more than like a paragraph or two ahead of when it’s revealed. Some fun character work in here as well, although I can’t say I actually liked any of them very much. Definitely recommend this one for mystery fans.