“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.
From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…”
Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 19th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later in the year. I chose to read a free ARC of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rosie at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.
A new book by Janice Hallett is a very exciting prospect indeed. The author has given the mystery genre a flipping good shake in the last few years with her mesmerising plots and different style of delivery. If you’re not sure what I mean by ‘different style of delivery’ then please allow me to explain. All three of Hallett’s books, The Appeal, The Twyford Code and now, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, have been told through the use of written communication. So letters, emails, transcripts, social media messaging etc. It provides a completely different experience for the reader, it’s so skilfully executed and I love what Hallett is doing. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is a novel I have been looking forward to with bated breath for nearly a year now (since finishing The Twyford Code) and it delivered on every count…and many, many more. Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a very enthusiastic review!
Upon opening the book the reader is given a task. In your hand you hold a key. The key opens a safety deposit box. Inside that box you will find comprehensive research material for a true crime book about the notorious Alperton Angels. You’re asked to read everything and make a decision: 1) return the documents to the box and lose the key so it can never be opened again, or 2) take the documents to the police. What will you do?
True crime writer, Amanda Bailey, is looking for something completely different to cover. When her agent suggests a book about the heart breaking case of the Alperton Angels from 2003, Amanda is sold. The baby that was involved in the case (and was considered by the cult members to be the anti-Christ) is about to turn eighteen and can finally talk about the experience. What a scoop that would be! But Amanda is not alone in her search for the baby. Oliver Menzies, an ex-colleague she has a strong dislike of, is also searching for the Alperton baby. Forced to work together, they begin to realise that memories are fragile and often, people recall events very differently. Every avenue they turn down leads to a dead end. Every hint or clue they’re given turns out to be a dud. Someone somewhere must know something and Amanda will do whatever it takes to discover the truth…
The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is sublime in concept, execution and delivery. Utterly intriguing, highly original and impossible to put down. Yes, this book IS responsible for the dark circles under my eyes and yes, it’s because I chose reading over sleep! I find there’s not a lot of choice to be had when the book is this bloody good! As with previous books, I quickly became comfortable with the different style the story is presented in, powering through the pages, unable to tear myself away. Once again, I appreciated the comprehensive list of characters near the front of the book disguised as an ‘interview wish list’ but found myself not referring to it so much this time around. There was no need as I was able to bring to mind all of the characters with ease, their relationships to one another and their place in the story. Which brings me around nicely to talk about the characters. Amanda is a career driven woman who I often felt pushed others feelings aside for her own personal gain. Saying that, she can’t be all that bad as her ex-assistant, Ellie Cooper, the woman tasked with typing up her audio transcripts, seems to have a real soft spot for her. Ellie was my favourite character in the book. Which is a strange thing to say as she really isn’t involved in any of the action. Ellie does however add her own personal thoughts and observations to Amanda’s transcripts and there was a real warmth and fondness to her words which I very much enjoyed. Ellie also brings a touch of humour. I don’t know how Janice Hallett does it though. How do you give the reader a real sense of your characters when all you have to make them come to life are a few emails and WhatsApp messages? It blows my mind. Janice, you’re a genius!
Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. One million times over. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is devilishly good (geddit? 😉). I’m a huge fan of books featuring cults and their enigmatic leaders so I was always going to love The Alperton Angels. I just didn’t realise how much. It’s an utterly intriguing story delivered by a master storyteller in their superb trademark style and I LOVED it. Hugely creative, totally addictive and beautifully intricate. You need this book in your life (and why not pick up the author’s first two books whilst you’re there?!). Highly recommended.
I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett was published in the UK by Viper Books on 19th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |
Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and cowrote the feature film Retreat.