Published By: Viper
Released On: 12/01/2023
Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?
Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.
Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.
As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over..
Thanks to NetGalley and Viper for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
How I’m expected to write a review of this book that gives enough justice to its brilliance is beyond me.
Well, she’s done it again. There was no risk that she wouldn’t really was there? Janice is the star of modern crime stories and she’s simply sublime at it. How she has managed to maintain this original way of writing for three books now, and keep it at such a high level is just ridiculous.
I had an advanced e-copy and some of the text isn’t split by line breaks, so it took a little while to get my head round when one email turned into a text message and then a transcript. I assume this is clearer in the finished book. But it only bothered me for about….2% of the book. She sucks you in so well that you almost forget the layout, you’re just so involved in the story itself.
The first thing I saw when I opened it was that she’s got another book coming out, hopefully, in 2024. So even before I’d started this one, I was excited for the next. That’s how thrilling her work is.
Now, what I will say is, it is quite a bit over 400 pages long, and my ideal book is no more than 300. I think very few books warrant being longer and I find myself getting bored. So my gut feeling was apprehension when I saw the page count but they just disappear. It doesn’t feel like it takes any longer to read which is where her skill at writing pace and flow excels.
What I want to know is how she keeps on top of it all. The people, the sub-stories, the link, the history – I go slightly mad just thinking about it. The way it’s written, all the layers, you’d be forgiven for thinking it would be impossible to keep up with it and remember who was who and what was what but it just works. It is a quite complicated plot with various threads and whatnot, but her skill makes it such an easy plot to follow.
She tells the story through WhatsApp and text messages, emails, book extracts, scripts, transcripts – you name it. It is a format that, once upon a time, I would never have thought would work but this is the third time she’s used this style of writing and it’s so expertly done that I can’t even imagine it being written in any other way. I don’t think it would work as brilliantly if it was just a straight piece of narrative.
There are a lot – and I mean a lot – of characters in this book, some with large parts, some merely mentioned. But for me, this is definitely Amanda and Oliver’s story. They are both – but particularly Oliver – fabulously created characters, so full of depth and pain that they are thrilling to read. There was something different about the writing style of this book compared to her previous ones when it comes to the characters. It felt more…personal. Like Amanda was replying all this information directly to the reader.
What I really like about this format is that you end up following the story at the same time as the characters do, you’re finding out clues and reveals at the same time, you discover the shocks and surprises at the same time. It makes for a rapid, fast-paced, frenzied reading experience.
When I read Janice’s first book The Appeal, I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Then The Twyford Code, still brilliant, but The Appeal still held top spot, possibly because it was the original. And then this came along. And if it’s possible, I’d even say it has the edge on the other two. There’s just something so fresh about it.
Whilst I know this is a fictional book, it does give you things to think about. To think about the possibility of spirits and angels and demons and the antichrist. What’s to say they don’t exist? How would we, as a race, react if it was discovered they were real? What are our thoughts on cults? It’s a very thought provoking story, as well as vastly entertaining.
I don’t really think it matters if you’re a huge fan of crime stories or murder mysteries and the such like. I don’t think the genre is actually all that important here. It’s all about her writing style and I feel that everyone should experience it as it’s just so mind blowing how it’s so perfect every time.
I’ve had this on my pile of books for a while now and I kept putting it off and putting it off, but once I started, I was hooked. It is so absorbing and all encompassing that the outside world might as well not be there. I’m just sad now that I don’t get the change to read it for the first time again – not unless I borrow the Men in Black Neuralyzer to wipe my memory.
Janice is a genius writer, every single book is a work of art. There’s no author like her around. She has a very special gift and I’m very happy that I have been given a chance to appreciate it.
I am aware that this review was 95% gushing about how much I love Janice’s work but I’m not going to apologise for that. In my opinion, she is one of the best writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness.