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Marianne’s Pick of the Week: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels

When you’re forced into a dark place, you spend the rest of your life on the way back.” Janice Hallett The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels book cover

I like to mix it up. Stories that are told in different formats challenge and excited me. While reading The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett I was forced to wear my thinking cap. Hallett presents her tale in a most untraditional format – via emails, WhatsApp and text messages as well as passages from a book our main character is writing.

Journalist Amanda Bailey is investigating a mass cult suicide known as the Alperton Angels as the 20th anniversary of the event approaches. Through chance, Oliver Mendes – a fellow journalist and competitor of Amanda’s – is drafting a similar book. Amanda’s and Oliver’s publishers force the two writers to team up. The two collaborate to locate the unnamed baby cult members had attempted to sacrifice. Oh, did I mention that the cultists believed the baby was the antichrist?

Over the investigation, it becomes clear that no one’s memories of the events, the names of the players, or the cult are the same. Throughout Amanda and Oliver’s research, twists and strange events play out. Witnesses turn up dead and Oliver becomes obsessed with former cult leader (and survivor) Gabriel Angelis. Hallett slowly reveals Amanda and Oliver’s history and how their shared past plays a key role in the current events. Our characters have truly had to dig themselves out of a dark places, but did they find their way back?

Amanda is a sympathetic character. We want her to solve the mystery and publish her book. Oliver comes across as a whiny, entitled individual and does not earn our sympathy as he falls under Gabriel’s spell and spirals out of control. We meet Ellie Cooper, Amanda’s transcriber, who plays a critical role in guiding us to the mystery’s resolution. As Amanda, Oliver, and Ellie stumble upon more clues (some true and others red herrings) the events of twenty years ago and their impact on today’s characters become clearer and more stunning. Throw in a conspiracy theory that ties the long-lost baby to the royal family and you have a real head-scratching mystery.

Hallett’s storytelling keeps you entertained and challenged. This is not a book to skim through; it demands that you pay close attention. I don’t know about you, but a big part of a mystery book’s fun is trying to solve the case as I read. I hate to admit it, but there is no way that I would have solved this mystery. Hallett kept the twists and turns coming throughout and until the very end.

This is a book for you if you read Hallett’s previous work, The Twyford Code or if you enjoy twisty mysteries like those by Ruth Ware or Anthony Horowitz.

Photo of Janice Hallett

Photo: Gaia Banks

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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