Two book reviews of thrillers for summer that will keep you guessing

I am just back from a week away in the West country and whilst there I read these two books, The Appeal and Widowland. Both are totally absorbing and whilst they could both be considered thrillers they are very different but equally as enjoyable. If you would like more of our book reviews of thillers and other genres by various guest contributors then click HERE.


I absolutely loved this book, so I am not surprised that it was the Sunday Times Book of the Month.

“This dazzlingly clever cosy crime novel in emails completely trumps Richard Osman….Hallett uses the epistolatory form to superb effect in this terrific debut.”

The Sunday Times

Someone is in prison for a crime they confessed to; however, there is an appeal as the barrister believes this person is not the perpetrator of the crime. As the reader, you get to see all the correspondence between a group of people who lived in a village and were members of an amateur dramatic society in the lead-up and post the crime. As with any thriller, you want to know ‘who dunnit’, but you are challenged as you try to solve the mystery in this book.

The Appeal is also a wonderful appreciation of village life and their inhabitant’s interaction. It is a real page-turner and a book that I could not put down. I had to get used to the epistolatory format, emails, texts, and press cuttings, all part of a QC’s evidence bundle for an appeal. I kept forgetting to read who the email or text was from and to and I went straight to the content, but once I had mastered the style, I romped through it and found it both original and humorous.

It is the gossipy pettiness that amused me, and it brought to mind the recent press coverage of the parish council meeting when Jackie Weaver became a household name. I liked the way two legal professionals who are articled clerks to the QC, sum everything up at various points in the story to make sure the reader is keeping up.

One piece of advice would be to keep a marker on the page that lists all the characters as you may need to keep referring back to that.

We have three copies of this book for a GIVEAWAY. You need to follow us on Instagram – click HERE , and also email me at with a one-line summary of why you like Annabel & Grace. The best three will be selected to receive a copy of The Appeal.


Book cover of Widowland by CJ Carey from post book review of thrillers

C.J. Carey is the pseudonym for Jane Thynne who wrote the Clara Vine spy series set during WWII. I have reviewed these some time ago as I was captivated by them and each time I finished one I contacted Jane to see when the next would be published.

However this is a different genre for Jane Thynne which is probably why she uses a pseudonym. If you have read any dystopian novels such as Robert Harris’ Fatherland or C.J. Sansom’s Dominion you will love this book. It is set in 1953, thirteen years after a Grand Alliance between Great Britain and Germany was formalised. Germany controls mainland Europe. Great Britain are therefore governed by the Germans, all power vested in Alfred Rosenberg, Britain’s Protector. We see, through the author’s imagination, what a Nazi Britain may have been like.

“Clever and steeped in historical insight.”

The Times, book of the month

The story revolves around Rose Ransom, a single woman in a relationship with a senior married SS officer. She is trapped in a system that does not suit her but she cannot complain as that would bring unimaginable consequences upon her. In the new class system she belongs to the elite caste of women and works at the Ministry of Culture.

In this new world the ‘Leader’ of Europe rules from Berlin. Meanwhile Edward VIII and his wife Wallis are about to be crowned as titular heads of Britain.

However, there has been a rise in insurgency; graffiti daubed on public buildings. Disturbingly, the graffiti is made up of lines from forbidden works, subversive words from the voices of women. Rose has been set a special task to visit Widowlands, a slum area in Oxford where childless widows over 50 are imprisoned, to interview some of the residents to find out if they are anarchists.

Rose is under no illusion that she must find the source of this insurgency before the coronation.

Widowlands is a reimagined view of history written in a most intriguing way portraying a believable and frightening existence if indeed we had lost the war or an alliance with Germany had been signed before it began. This is Jane Thynne’s debut thriller as C.J. Carey and is an absolute winner. She has an unbelievable imagination that we are so lucky to benefit from. I hope she continues to write novels as C.J. Carey. I wonder if she chose the initials C.J. as they are the same as C.J. Sansom, the great historical novelist?