The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett – Book review

Loved, loved, loved The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels! This is witty, clever crime fiction written in Janice Hallett’s signature style of blending communication forms, rather than straight prose (see also The Twyford Code). The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels consists of text message and email exchanges, newspaper and book extracts and transcribed (mainly secretly recorded) conversations.

Opening sentence: You have a key that opens a safe deposit box.

Who are the Alperton Angels?

Amanda Bailey is a crime writer, commissioned to write a new book about a rather intriguing 18 year old murder case. That of four men who were part of a cult that considered themselves angels on earth, found dismembered in a warehouse in Alperton, north London. Their plan that night was to sacrifice the baby (the anti-Christ) of one of the members, Holly, but something went terribly wrong and they paid with their lives instead.

Gabriel – the cult leader – was imprisoned but always denies any wrong doing. The baby survived, their identity kept secret. But as they are now 18 years old, Amanda is determined to get exclusive interviews with both them and Gabriel and find out what really happened all those years ago in an Alperton warehouse.

There’s something about this case. It burrows insidiously into your mind, then sets about changing it.

Is it through Amanda’s research and correspondence with key witnesses and people connected to the case that this story is brilliantly told.

Clever, layered crime writing

Unfortunately for Amanda, the Alperton Angels case is a hot topic and fellow crime writer Oliver Menzies is also on the hunt for an exclusive. The two know each other from when they were training to be journalists, but they are not exactly friends. This adds another intriguing dimension to the tale.

The world of a crime writer trying to hunt down the truth is wonderfully captured. Made even better by the fact Amanda isn’t always telling the truth. She’s a lead character you root for but she definitely has her own agenda too, one that is revealed in snippets throughout the story for maximum impact.

In the face of coincidence and unexplained phenomena we are all at the mercy of our own thought processes.

The dry sarcasm of Amanda’s former assistant and transcriber Ellie Cooper is also brilliant and really adds some great touches.

In terms of developing this story, I loved how Amanda writes a few different versions of the potential opening chapter of her book as she gets more evidence – it works to show just how multi-layered it is. The way the facts are weaved in and revealed are next level – just when you think the story is going one way, it swerves and gives you a jaw-dropping moment.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels blends crime and greed with the power of belief and people’s vulnerability to create this amazing story. It is one of those books that I was thinking about when I wasn’t reading it, just wondering what would happen next.

A truly unique take on crime fiction that I know I’m going to read again to appreciate its intricacies.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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