Published by Viper
Publication date – 19 January 2023
Source – review copy
Everyone knows about the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl into believing that her baby was the anti-Christ. When the girl came to her senses and called the police, the Angels committed suicide and mother and baby disappeared into the care system.
Now, author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the case. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen; finding them will be the true-crime scoop of the year. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and also on the baby’s trail.
As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that the truth about the Angels is much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. This story is far from over…
You come across a collection of research notes, interviews and messages. All focussed on the case of the Alperton Angels, the radical cult who were going to kill a baby before four members were found dead. It reveals the truth of what really happened. But people involved with the case and previous investigations have died. Are some secrets better left buried?
Readers of Janice Hallett’s previous novels, The Appeal and The Twyford Code, will be familiar with her writing style. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels follows in their footsteps. This is an epistolary novel with a difference. Rather than letters, the narrative is laid out in WhatsApp messages, emails, transcriptions and pages from books and a screenplay. There are clues dotted throughout those, leading to the truth. There are also clues to be found between the lines, in the spaces where nothing is said or written down.
The premise for the story is an interesting one. What really happened to the small cult of the Alperton Angels? One of the survivors is in prison and refuses to speak to anyone. The two young teens and the baby have vanished. What story do they have to tell, or hide? Is it as simple as brainwashing vulnurable people or is something else at play?
There is the feeling throughout the novel that these are people you can’t trust. Everyone seems to have either something to hide or are devious or manipulative in some form or other. Amanda is seemingly charming but her emails show the two sides to her, white lies and flattery often giving way to derision or forcefulness depending on who she is interacting with. Oliver is impetuous and headstrong, determined to get what he wants from the story without the people skills to extract the information needed. There are those involved in the case that want the secrets of the Alperton Angels to remain secrets. As Amanda gets closer to the truth, she realises she could be putting herself in the face of danger, particularly as those involved seem to die suddenly.
At nearly 500 pages there is plenty of story for your money but the book never seems overly long. This is in part due to the narration style but also of course due to the story itself. It pulls the reader along, who can see that things aren’t as they seem, as more evidence is uncovered and more witnesses give their version of events.
A clever, twisty tale that draws the reader in.
You can buy The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels here.
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