The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival. But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved.
... witty, original ... Reading it is like taking part in an immersive theatrical production in which you wander through an unfamiliar house, collecting clues to a nebulous mystery ... The whole thing is a delight; teasing out the mystery is almost as fun as searching for its solution.
This dazzling epistolary novel is presented in the form of texts and emails between the various people in the orbit of the Fairway Players and Poppy’s appeal. It’s not only a cleverly constructed murder mystery but also an incisive and often hilarious look into the social dynamics of small towns, exploring what would drive some to pursue the truth no matter the cost ... Even without the palpable love of theater, this novel hit all my appreciation points as it invites readers to unravel the truth cunningly concealed within its pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this intelligent, inventive and heartfelt novel. Written in a modern, engaging manner, this was my first five-star read of the year.
What’s so innovative about this story is it’s told almost completely in emails and messages. I must admit to being simultaneously intrigued and wary of this format as I don’t always get on with epistolary novels, but I needn’t have worried. Hallett has made this such an addictive read with a feeling akin to peeping through a window and observing the (pretty unlikeable, to be fair) characters’ behaviour both first- and second-hand, and watching their stories unfold ... a more considered, yet still fascinating, read ... I have come to the conclusion I would be a terrible detective and am hopeless at reading between the lines. Janice Hallett, however, is a masterful plotter, pulling all of the different strands together with aplomb. It gives me a headache just thinking about the planning of this novel. This is an accomplished debut novel and a compelling mystery, with a very original style. I loved it.