Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett
1/23/24; 432 pages
Atria Books

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett takes a modern twist on an epistolary novel and is highly recommended. Rather than letters, the narrative develops through modern modes of communication: transcripts of interviews, texts, email, WhatsApp messages, scripts, online articles, podcasts, drafts of written work, etc.

Amanda Bailey is a true-crime author who is planning to revisit a notorious case from 18 years ago and write the definitive book about the what happened and the baby involved. The Alperton Angels were a lethal cult who believed they were angles. The currently imprisoned leader, who called himself Gabriel, brainwashed re-named teens Holly and Jason to believe that they were also angels and that the baby they were caring for was the anti-Christ. After the fatal events from years ago, the teens and baby disappeared. That baby would be 18 now.

Amanda is sure she can uncover what really happened and the real identity of the teens and the baby. When she starts her research she learns that an old rival Oliver Menzies is also planning a book on the exact same subject. The two are equally industrious and assertive journalists who are eventually forced into an uneasy collaboration by their publishers.

Following along with Amanda's fiendishly clever efforts to research and uncover material, you will be able to piece together clues and have questions arise as you follow all the clues and information which arises. It is a layered, complex narrative that can change with each new data piece and questions arise constantly. It is in doubt that the truth is known or has ever been told. The tension rises along the way as people with information seem to be dying.

Ellie Cooper, is a PhD student and the transcriber for Amanda's recorded interviews. She also inserts her own comments and observations as her work is shared, which are refreshing and always appreciated while reading.

Generally, I enjoy epistolary novels but I will admit that this felt like a little too much of a good things and toward the end I longed for some story telling in a more traditional format. It could have been due to the length of the novel. The ending is a shocking twist and made pushing through worth it. 4.5 rounded down.

Disclosure: My complimentary review copy was courtesy of Atria Books via Edelweiss.

No comments: