Book Review: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

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.. After all, the devil is in the detail…

As fans of Janice Hallett’s previous novels The Appeal and The Twyford Code will know she has previously favoured a non standard narrative using emails and voice recordings to tell the story instead. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels continues this style choice (which I enjoy hugely, it makes a refreshing change and is very engaging) this time telling the story with a mixture of transcribed conversation, written notes and pages pulled from other ‘books’.

Like Halletts previous works this one kept me guessing all the way through, I felt like I had glimpses of the bits of information that would set me on the path to understanding but never quite enough to get there until she wanted the reveal to come.

This was a fascinating story with many layers, an author carrying past resentments, a study into what makes cults possible and how they come about, a look into journalism and true crime writing and then the mystery itself, all skilfully woven together to made a book that’s very hard to put down (partly because the narrative grabs you and partly because owing to the format there are no chapters and everything blends seamlessly together.)

I can’t really say to much more about the plot without giving something away, but I will say this was a good read and very much worth picking up. If you’ve enjoyed Halletts previous works you’ll enjoy this one too, although on balance I think Twyford Code remains my favourite so far!

With thanks to Viper books and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for honest review.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels will be available January 2023

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