The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Janice Hallett
The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels

Ooooh, I am very excited to read this, as I love Hallett’s books and the way she develops the plot and adds in such intriguing puzzles, keeping me guessing and making me feel like a detective myself and that I could possibly (though I realise this is unlikely!) solve the mystery. I find the whole experience of reading her books so addictive. I am preparing myself to lose weeks to reading and re-reading this, and I can’t wait to get started!

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett available on Amazon
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Ooooh, I am very excited to read this, as I love Hallett’s books and the way she develops the plot and adds in such intriguing puzzles, keeping me guessing and making me feel like a detective myself and that I could possibly (though I realise this is unlikely!) solve the mystery. I find the whole experience of reading her books so addictive. I am preparing myself to lose weeks to reading and re-reading this, and I can’t wait to get started!

So already the first page sounds intriguing, about the contents of a safe deposit box and whether the reader will choose to ensure that no-one else can read what is inside or whether the reader will choose to tell the police about what is inside. So is all the rest of the book therefore the actual contents of the safe deposit box, I wonder? I am guessing so. The main narrator is Amanda Bailey, who writes books about true crime. Her agent, Nita Crawley, puts Amanda in touch with a publisher called Pippa Deacon who employs Amanda to investigate the case of the Alperton Angels. This case happened in 2003 and was a cult of men with two teenagers named Holly and Jonah, and a baby. The members of the cult believed that they were all angels and that the baby was the Antichrist and needed to be sacrificed. Some of men in the cult then committed suicide, though not the cult leader, Gabriel Angelis, or Holly and Jonah and the baby. It’s now 2021 and the baby is about to turn 18, and it is he/she that Amanda is now seeking to find in order to write the book about. Gabriel was jailed for killing Harpinder Singh, whose body was found in a flat and was presumed to be connected with the Angels in some way, and for mutilating the bodies of those Angels who had committed suicide in a warehouse, and for enticing the teenagers to join his cult.

Hmmm, I’m not liking Amanda very much, she seems willing to do unfair/immoral things to get the information she wants, such as lying to people, pretending to be a police officer, threatening to get a social worker sacked if she doesn’t provide her with information, falsely flattering people, etc. I don’t like the arrogance she displays with her judging that what she wants is more important than other people’s careers and lives, and I don’t like her patronising attitude to the people she questions with her implying that she is much cleverer than them. And I’m not convinced she is even that interested in this case, it feels to me like she is just researching and reporting it as a way to make money and to further her career, rather than a wish to right a wrong or highlight a lesson that could be learnt to prevent something similar happening again. However, I can feel her excitement at trying to solve the mystery to find the now-adult baby. 

Omg, the details of when Holly and the baby and the bodies were found by the police in the warehouse all sounds very weird and quite spooky, that Holly called the police in the first place, that she was found sat alone in the warehouse with odd symbols drawn on the floor which had then disappeared when other police officers went there later, and that when the police took Holly to the hospital it was discovered that the baby was in a plastic bag she was carrying with her but that the baby had been totally silent throughout the car journey and Holly hadn’t mentioned its presence to the police even though she had mentioned a baby in her phone call. And the symbols on the floor are intriguing, I am wondering if the symbols are supposed to be people, with the circles being heads. Or are they letters, could they be P or I and then A and W? And it’s very intriguing to think about who removed them afterwards and why. 

I’m also quite fascinated by Amanda’s idea that the baby has probably grown-up reading the story of the Alperton Angels and reading all about the baby who was due to be sacrificed, never realising that he/she was actually that baby.

Oooh, we’re getting intriguing inconsistencies now! Firstly, how many bodies were in the warehouse. The breaking news at the time firstly reports four bodies and then says it was three bodies, and amateur detective David Polneath hints to Amanda that there is something suspicious about the number of bodies. I’m wondering if one of them was perhaps not actually dead and was just pretending to be dead, and they’re then the one who removed the symbols. Secondly, who is Marie-Claire? Police officer Aileen Forsyth says to Amanda that she presumed Marie-Claire was part of the attending police force at the warehouse but that she remembers Holly had said that Marie-Claire was one of the Dark Angels, and then there’s the oddness of Marie-Claire telling Aileen that she would keep her distance from Holly so would wait outside the car which Holly and the baby were sitting in at the warehouse but when Aileen returned to the car she found Marie-Claire sat in the car whilst Holly was stood outside of it, and then there’s the oddness of the manager of the children’s centre telling Amanda that it was someone called Marie-Claire who had brought the teenagers and baby there, but Aileen had told Amanda that it was she who had taken them there, and there’s also the oddness of Aileen stating that Marie-Claire was black but the manager of the children’s centre stating that she was white and also the manager saying that a black policewoman and a white man had later collected the baby from the children’s centre seemingly without Social Services being aware, so was this second black person actually Marie-Claire, and where did they take the baby? Thirdly, Aileen said that Jonah had pulled out a knife when they arrived at the children’s centre, which she wrestled off him, and she stated that this incident was witnessed by the manager there, but the manager stated to Amanda that Jonah had no knife and this didn’t happen, so I’m almost beginning to wonder if there were two different teenagers and babies taken to two different children’s centres in order to confuse the trail. 

Omg, Amanda and Oliver Menzies (another crime writer also writing about Alperton Angels) go to the site of the warehouse, which has now been demolished and new flats built on the site, but they find what Amanda states are copies of the symbols previously drawn on the warehouse floor, though Oliver states this is just graffiti. I am so fascinated by these symbols! 

The story is written in an unusual style, as there’s not really a plot unfolding as such as we’ve been told the basic storyline of the case right at the start, so it’s more Amanda checking details and finding intriguing inconsistencies. Also the scenes unfolding are told via messages in Whatsapp, email, etc, which makes it an interesting and unusual format to read it in, it is therefore very gripping and quite quick to read and hard to put down as there are no formal chapters as such so no natural breaks. A lot of information is being given to us and I’m therefore feeling like I am constantly on alert for important facts. There also seems a lot of chat and messages which potentially seem irrelevant too, but then I’m thinking these must have been included for a reason so I feel I really ought to be noting it all but it’s so hard to judge what could be relevant, particularly bits detailing things from other books and tv series about the case. I find I read a bit and then put the book down and think about it and what I’ve potentially learnt, before picking it up to read some more. I also realise that we’re not really getting Amanda’s thoughts and guesses either, the only views we get are the transcriber’s, Ellie, who I do really like with her humorous asides to Amanda in the transcribing she does. I think the transcription bits of the book are my preferred style actually, as the Whatsapp messages just feel a bit too quick and snappy and screenplay-ish, whereas the transcription bits are in more depth and give more information, plus as I say, I do love Ellie’s little comments, she’s my favourite character in this, I kind of wish the whole thing was done from her point of view. So with all those things, it feels quite different to read from the usual detective books.

Oooh, some bits that are confusing me! Firstly, it seems that police officer Jonathan Childs wasn’t actually the one who discovered the body of Harpinder Singh but he was stated to be the one who discovered it in order to send a message to an Organised Crime Gang (OCG), and later it is stated that Gabriel was involved with an OCG before he started the cult, so is there a connection here? But I’m not really following this sudden leap to OCGs, to be honest. Secondly, Social Worker Julian Nowak tells Amanda that Holly went off with her boyfriend Gabriel in the early 90s, but this was way before this case in December 2003, Amanda dismisses him as getting various different cases confused, but is it actually relevant in some way, did this cult happen before? Thirdly, there have been two people who have suddenly died when Amanda has made contact with them (retired news reporter, Gray Graham, known as Gray, who reported on the murder of Harpinder Singh, and Mark Dunning who wrote a novel about the Angels), so is this just a coincidence or is someone killing people who could potentially give information to Amanda? 

Grrr, some frustrating bits! Amanda and Oliver manage to speak to Jonah, who is now a monk at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight. He doesn’t say much but does state that ‘nowhere is safe now’, which is intriguing as to what he could be referring to, and frustrating that they don’t question him more. Amanda and Oliver feel that Jonah’s life in the monastery is just like his life in the cult. Oliver also gets to speak to Gabriel in prison, but Oliver seems intimidated by Gabriel, who controls the conversation, and Oliver’s recording of the conversation doesn’t work, which is incredibly frustrating as we don’t then get the details of what has been said. Gabriel was jailed for the murder of Harpinder Singh, but the only evidence was his fingerprint on a leaflet in Singh’s flat. Gabriel was also jailed for mutilating and posing the dead bodies of the other Angels who had committed suicide and for bringing Holly and Jonah into the cult. And Amanda meets a Mr Blue who can apparently tell her about the baby, but she gives no details of this meeting apart from saying that it actually happened at her flat as Mr Blue had snuck in there in order to intimidate her and warn her off, and that Mr Blue had said that the baby had been relocated to another country with no records kept, as a dark closed adoption. Grrr, this is extremely frustrating, why don’t we get more detail? And I wonder if Mr Blue is actually the baby. 

Amanda gets into Gray’s flat and finds notebooks full of shorthand, which she gets her Aunty Pat to translate for her. It seems like it was Gray who found the bodies in the warehouse, so it’s strange that he didn’t report this as him being first on the scene as it surely would have been a scoop, or was he fearful of repercussions? And there is also something very intriguing about what happened in Amanda’s family, as Pat says that it had been 26 years since Amanda told lies about them and left the family, so what happened? 

I am also loving the Guildford Cold and Unsolved Murder Club, there seems to be so much potential with this group, I am wishing Amanda dealt with them more, they remind me of the characters in Richard Osman’s books.

More interesting and intriguing bits! Firstly, a woman emails Amanda saying that she saw one of the Angels (Raphael/Shenk) at the police station, she says he was brought in but not logged at the police desk and that this was at the same time of night that it was reported the Angels died in the warehouse. So were these actually just random unknown people that died at the warehouse and they were just given the names of real people who were perhaps killed for other reasons and at other times? Omg, it’s sooo confusing! Secondly, someone emails Amanda saying that his brother was at school with Harpinder Singh and he wasn’t at all the down-and-out who had recently arrived in the country, as reported in the press, but had been in England since a baby and was educated at a very good school and was from a wealthy family. So again, was he killed for some other reason, and this whole cult thing is just a smokescreen? Thirdly, social worker, Ruth Charalambos, tells Amanda that Holly’s real name is Rowley Wild, and that she had dealt with her before she absconded from care to join the Angels and that she was a mature determined woman from a wealthy family, not at all a victim who could be easily led. Hmmm, so are we thinking that Holly could have been in control here, does this tie in with Julian Novak saying Holly went off with her boyfriend Gabriel in the 90s, was it even actually Holly who was in charge of the Angels? 

So some previously withheld information which had frustrated me, now shared with the reader. Firstly, we hear Oliver’s interview with Gabriel. He tells Oliver that he (Oliver) is also an angel with a purpose and energy, Gabriel also seems to already know about Oliver’s dad dying and that he is the focus of someone’s negative energy (which Oliver presumes means the ex-soldier he had written a book about and who Oliver thinks is now stalking him), all of which convinces Oliver that Gabriel himself is an archangel. Ellie, the transcriber, also comments to Amanda how seductive and compelling Gabriel’s voice is, and that she could feel herself being drawn into believing him just from listening to his voice in the interview. Secondly, we get details of Amanda’s meeting with Mr Blue. She was told by Mr Blue to stop searching for the baby and to tell everyone the story that the baby had been adopted secretly, as a closed dark adoption, and Amanda felt sufficiently scared that ‘they could dispose of me at a second’s notice if I continued my search’. Hmmm, sounds scary. And so what actually happened to the baby, if this closed dark adoption thing wasn’t true?

Eeek, it turns out that Harpinder Singh was a police officer working undercover at a restaurant whose owners were dealing drugs, and that one of the Angels, Raphael/Shenk, also worked at this restaurant. So is this another OCG link, and was Harpinder’s death actually to do with his undercover work, nothing to do with the Angels, is the Angel story just some big cover-up to protect the OCG? And Raphael/Shenk was the person the woman saw at the police station when he was reported as having been found dead at the warehouse, so was he actually an undercover cop too and one of the dead bodies was given his name in order to protect him? And Amanda is told that a woman who worked as a television researcher, Suzi Korman, looking into the Alperton Angels in order to make a documentary, suddenly died in a house fire. This seems to be similar to the other people who have suddenly died. Or is this just being told to Amanda in order to scare her off? But eeek, now David Polneath has just died in a house fire too, and even more alarmingly this was the only person who Amanda had told the real details of the Mr Blue interview to, so was her email detailing this found at his flat in which case they (whoever ‘they’ are) will now know that she had spoken about the meeting to him, after they’d expressly forbidden her not to. Or bizarrely (but this book is sending me slightly crazy!), could it be that Amanda is doing all this, killing people herself, is she not actually looking into all this in order to write a book, but because she believes she needs to find and kill the baby as he’s the Antichrist, is she actually Holly?!!

Amanda tells Oliver that she found out online that the symbols on the warehouse floor represent Gabriel and Elemiah and Michael (three of the Angels). Is this true, or just something she is telling Oliver in order to mislead him? And if it is true, why did the reader not know that Amanda had found this information online, why does she not share things with the reader? And also why is there no symbol of Raphael, is this because they know he isn’t one of them as he’s an undercover cop? 

So Amanda says she was 12 when she ‘put myself into care and fell out with Aunty Pat and the rest of my family’. Phew, that’s huge, we need more information on this! What happened within her family? And does her being in care link her with Holly in some way? 

Omg! So at the abbey, Jonah secretly passed a piece of paper to Amanda with Marie-Claire’s name on it and her number. And when Amanda contacts Marie-Claire, it turns out that this was the person she met earlier, the Mr Blue character who warned her off. Why why why isn’t Amanda telling us this, why is she keeping things from the reader? And Marie-Claire tells Amanda that there will be no more warnings. Who is this mysterious Marie-Claire?

Oh noooo, Amanda thinks that there is valuable information to be gained from the fictional accounts of the Alperton Angels, as the authors may have picked up things from their research that they have incorporated into their work, though they themselves were probably unaware of the significance of what they’d found. Sigh, I was just discounting these books, etc, as irrelevant filler which I found a bit annoying. Oh god, I am realising now that I have probably missed lots of important stuff, although again it is frustrating that Amanda isn’t sharing her thoughts and deductions and findings with the reader and didn’t mention before that these accounts were of value.

And Amanda now has Mark Dunning’s diary which recounts how on the evening of 10th December 2003 he accompanied police officer Jonathan Childs on his patrols, Dunning paying Childs for this service and Childs pocketing this money and obviously not telling his superiors that he had a member of the public in the car with him. Dunning writes that they first went to an incident of fighting between two rival gangs which resulted in Childs being attacked by the gangs and needing assistance from other officers, and then later that night a dead body was dumped by other police officers into the boot of Childs’ car, it was stated by Childs that this dead person was the one who killed Harpinder Singh, and seems to have then been taken to the warehouse where the bodies of the Angels were. So was this killer’s body then made to look like he had also committed suicide with the Angels? And if so, does that mean the other bodies possibly weren’t Angels and possibly hadn’t committed suicide, was this just something set up by the police to cover-up something else? Or are Childs and the other officers not acting for the police in all this, and are instead acting for the drug gangs? And Marie-Claire was also there at the warehouse, she seems to have been caught moving one of the bodies, she said she thought the person was still breathing and then seems to have been pretending to just be new and incompetent. But was this actually something she was doing deliberately? Dunning wrote that he was really scared by all he saw, and immediately got a flight back to America. Dunning stated in his diary that he saw three mutilated bodies on the floor of the warehouse, though I’m not sure if this includes the body that Marie-Claire was caught moving or the body in Childs’ boot, I am soooo confused! And Amanda also has a photo which Gray took of the bodies at the warehouse, which apparently shows Gabriel as one of the bodies with Jonah clinging to him. So is it not actually therefore Gabriel in prison, did the original Gabriel die and then someone else was imprisoned in his name for some reason? Or was he just pretending to be dead, and it is him that Marie-Claire was sneaking away? Gray’s picture seems to show three bodies too, as well as Jonah. Amanda seems to think that the fourth body was found elsewhere in the warehouse and was Raphael/Shenk, so is this the person who was killed by the police for killing Harpinder? And I’m also wondering if it is relevant that Dunning’s diary is handwritten, is there something we’re supposed to spot with the writing? But maybe not, I guess it would be more usual for a diary to be handwritten rather than typed, obviously, so perhaps there is nothing suspicious in this.

And Ellie is fascinated with the possibility that Holly was from an obscure branch of the royal family, which is why everything was hushed up so efficiently as her baby was then taken back and raised by the royal family, and Ellie therefore wonders if the baby is actually the child of Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise Windsor, who is due to turn 18 shortly. Really? Surely this is too crazy!

Phew! Amanda meets with a paramedic who attended the scene at the warehouse, he says the bodies had all been shot in the head! What?! That’s the first we’ve heard of that! He says the wounds were tiny and behind their ears, so wouldn’t have been visible in the photos of the scene, and that they were ‘execution-style’. What does this mean?! So it can’t be suicide, or Gabriel killing them. Are we back to the OCG? He also says there were three dead at the scene, but he later heard there was a fourth body there but he didn’t see this fourth body, and this had always puzzled him. 

Oh! Amanda has shared something that happened between her and Oliver back in college, that he pretended they were all meeting at a certain pub in a rough area, she arrived there but no-one else did, and when she finally left she was followed and attacked resulting in her losing the sight in her right eye, her coursework was also stolen, and she left the college course and never told anyone what happened. Phew, this is quite big, but why has it only been included now, why is she working with Oliver, or is it that her angle on this whole thing is just to dupe Oliver and play with his mind and make him look foolish, in order to punish him? Which seems to be working as he is believing in the Angels and the end of the world. I did think at the start that Amanda didn’t really seem that interested in the case or in righting wrongs, I thought it was just money or the chance to build her reputation which was driving her to investigate this case, but is her main aim instead just to punish Oliver? Though I do think she is now more invested in the case and genuinely wants to solve it. But I’m also seeing all these things, like a vendetta against Oliver and these fictional books and film scripts, as a distraction from the case, and things which I find frustrating, I really just want this book to be solely about the case, the rest all feels a bit like filler. But…am I being naive here, should I be remembering that Hallett’s other books included clues in unlikely places and nothing was filler and everything was included for a reason?!

Amanda meets with Marie-Claire again, who turns off Amanda’s phone in order to tell Amanda ‘what happened to Gabriel and it explains a lot’, Grrr, I find it so frustrating that we’re not learning along with Amanda, we’re only being given half of the story, how on earth can we deduce stuff when we’re not being given all the information? Even if Hallett doesn’t want to give plain facts at this point in the book and spoil the ending, then just something in the form of clues which we can puzzle over. But, frustration aside, Amanda seems to believe that Marie-Claire is with the police or something above the police. And Marie-Claire said that Shenk wasn’t an Angel, he was one of the drug dealers and had realised that Harpinder Singh was an undercover police officer so killed him, and was then killed himself by the police as retaliation for killing one of their own and his body was added to those in the warehouse and he was made out to be one of the Angels, called Raphael, in order to cover this up. So was Marie-Claire/the police more involved in the killings of the Angels at the warehouse, or even committed the killings for some reason, or did they just take the opportunity of ‘hiding’ Shenk’s body there? And Amanda seems to be feeling even more now that this investigation could be dangerous, as she transcribes this Marie-Claire meeting herself rather than have Ellie transcribe it, as she doesn’t want Ellie ‘tangled up in anything that might backfire’. So who is she fearful of, the OCG or the police, and (again!) just what does she suspect has happened?!! 

Amanda is contacted by ‘the woman who answered Jonah’s old phone’. What?! I thought she was just a random woman, but she’s actually part of this? I’m going to have to look back at that bit. And I am beginning to suspect there will be a lot of flicking back in the book from this point, to re-read bits I’d mistakenly discounted as not important, grrr! Ok, I’ve gone all the way back to find this original entry, and I’d say we were given no information at that time about her, as Amanda’s scribbled note was just ‘not his phone any more. Whose? Wouldn’t say who she was. Core Abbey, Isle of Wight’. So no wonder I discounted it, I just presumed the phone changed hands years ago and the present owner had nothing to do with the case, so yet again Amanda isn’t giving us everything, sigh. Admittedly, after flicking through the book some more, I can see that Amanda later tells Oliver that the current owner of the phone had told her where Jonah was living now, Quarr Abbey (what must have sounded like Core Abbey to her originally), and later again when she’s speaking with Jonah she tells him that she phoned the number of Jonah’s old phone and asked the person who answered where Jonah was and ‘they said he’s at Quarr Abbey’. Ok, so I guess Amanda had shown that the owner of Jonah’s old phone was a relevant person and knew something, and I’d just missed it amongst everything else, sigh. Anyway, after that lengthy diversion, I will continue with where I was in the book…! So Amanda meets this woman who has Jonah’s old phone, and she is Holly!! She is actually Lady Georgina and is married to Jess, who wrote one of the fictional books about the Angels (I’m just going to continue calling her Holly though, to make things easier for myself, as wasn’t she also called Rowley Wild too as well as Lady Georgina?). Holly explains that writing the books began as a therapeutic exercise as she could re-live what happened but control the outcome, whereas she had no control in real life when it was actually happening. She and Jess offer Amanda a large sum of money to drop the investigation, saying they don’t want their children to ever find out what happened to Holly. Amanda refuses and leaves. However, she has realised that when Holly spoke about once writing an account in a creative writing class of what happened, before she and Jess wrote the book, this account is actually the film script by Clive Badham who was the tutor of the creative writing class and he has passed Holly’s work off as his own, so this is actually Holly’s true account. Oh god, now I’m going to have to go back and re-read all the film script excerpts, I should have known Hallett wouldn’t put something in that was of no relevance!

Amanda continues reading the film script, now knowing it is Holly’s true account of what happened. It states that Gabriel, Michael, Elemiah, Holly, Jonah, and the baby were at the warehouse, and Elemiah had painted some symbols on the floor. Don Makepeace (an ex-special forces person who has been helping Amanda with the investigation) then arrived with a suitcase full of money, which he placed on the floor within the painted symbols, as instructed. Don then asked about the baby but was told to retreat. Michael looked in the suitcase, and was suddenly shot. Holly ran with the baby, and Elemiah ran after her and he was shot. Gabriel moved to go after Holly, and he was also shot. Jonah leapt onto Gabriel’s body shouting that Gabriel couldn’t die as he was divine. Holly continued to run up through the floors of the warehouse, and neither she or Jonah were shot at. She then phoned the police, from a phone that Ashleigh had given her (Ashleigh is mentioned before in the film script, as being someone sympathetic and helpful to Holly). Holly watched someone from Don’s team put a knife into Michael’s dead hand and then made him cut his own throat, then slice his chest and pull out his entrails, and they then did the same to Elemiah’s body. They approached Gabriel’s body to do the same to him, but Jonah was still clinging to Gabriel. Gray then arrived, having listened in to the police radio directing officers to the warehouse in response to Holly’s phonecall. Gray then fainted at the sight of the dismembered bodies. The police then arrived, responding to Holly’s phonecall, and Amanda’s note at this section states that the police’s arrival probably saved Gray from being killed by Don’s team. The police then took Holly to the hospital, but just as they arrived at the hospital there was a call over the police radio requesting help, and Amanda’s note at this section states that this was Jonathan Childs and Mark Dunning being attacked by the two gangs, so the police left Holly at the hospital in order to help a fellow police officer. Amanda’s note at this section states that Childs, with Dunning, then took Shenk’s body to the warehouse to hide it and that this is the point where two cover-ups collide. Back at the hospital, the baby had been examined and deemed healthy, Holly had gone to the toilet with the baby when Marie-Claire arrived saying that she had come to collect Holly and baby, she went to find them but police officer Aileen had met Holly first and had then driven Holly and the baby to the warehouse to collect Jonah, duly followed by Marie-Claire in her car. Aileen parked at the warehouse and looked for a female officer to sit with Holly and baby while she collected Jonah from inside the warehouse. Marie-Claire immediately approached the car, but Holly recognised Marie-Claire from the warehouse shootings and started screaming. Aileen told Marie-Claire to wait outside the car while Holly and baby sat in the car. Ashleigh then arrived and spoke to Holly, praising her and asking if she was ok. Marie-Claire seemed to know Ashleigh and told her that she shouldn’t be there and to go back to the van. Ashleigh explained to Holly that Gabriel wasn’t an archangel, and that he had done the same thing to her 13 years before, also calling her ‘Holly’ and telling her that she was an angel (so I will continue calling Ashleigh by that name, rather than ‘Holly’, to make things easier for myself). Amanda’s note at this section states that Ashleigh was following Gabriel in 2003. Holly told Ashleigh that the baby wasn’t hers. Marie-Claire then received a phone call which hugely shocked her and she sat inside the car to recover, while Holly continued speaking to Ashleigh outside the car. Ashleigh then left as Aileen arrived with Jonah, and Marie-Claire then went into the warehouse. In the car, Jonah was angry at Holly for saving the baby, and pulled out a knife to kill the baby himself, and Aileen disarmed him of this. Holly asked Aileen if she would have to arrest Jonah, but Aileen said that she wouldn’t do so and would just put it down to trauma, but told Holly that if anyone at the children’s centre questioned what had happened then to tell them that her name was Marie-Claire rather than Aileen. Wow, that was quite dramatic, a lot of information given to us there, bang bang bang! Phew, it feels a lot to process and think through, and I think I may have forgotten to breathe through most of that! But one thing that I find annoying is these inconsistencies about who dropped Holly and Jonah and baby off at the children’s centre, and about Jonah pulling a knife, which were made to seem mysterious and crucial clues to the plot, however it was actually Aileen who dropped them off and Jonah did pull a knife, but Aileen lied about these things at the time and then 18 years later forgot her lies, so that seems a bit sneaky and misleading to me! 

Amanda texts Don Makepeace saying she knows who the baby is and she knows why he had to lie. What, who?!! You can’t just give us that and then no more explanation, grrrr!

Amanda then contacts Oliver saying she needs to confess to him that she has held back information from him. He says he has worked it out anyway, that Holly is Lady Georgina Ogilvy and that the baby was adopted by Prince Edward and Sophie and is now Lady Louise Windsor. He tells her that he is going to destroy the baby as it is the Antichrist and he himself is an angel. Omg, is Oliver still on with this? And I’m kind of annoyed that we are following this thread when I want to find out more about what Amanda’s text to Don Makepeace meant.

Amanda tells Oliver that Gabriel and Michael and Elemiah were criminals, they befriended Ashleigh in 1990 for some scheme, convincing her she was an angel, but she went to the police and was taken back home. They repeated this again in 2003 with Holly (Lady Georgina) and Jonah as they wanted to use an innocent looking young couple who wouldn’t be considered suspicious. Amanda says the symbols on the second floor of the warehouse were just Elemiah’s practice marks for what he would later draw in the basement to mark the spot where they would meet so the marks on the second floor were later erased which caused more confusion. What?! So the symbols are basically meaningless, after all the time I’d spent agonising over what they could mean! And why did Elemiah need to draw any symbols at all for Don Makepeace to put the case of money down onto, wouldn’t an ‘X’ just do? I’m thinking this whole symbol thing is another nothing-mystery again, Hallett just misleading us, like with Aileen’s forgotten lie, grrr. 

Amanda says the baby was Don Makepeace’s baby son, Connor, kidnapped by Gabriel for ransom and as revenge for Don sending him to prison in the 1980s. She says that Holly and the gang had been following Mrs Makepeace for some time, waiting for a suitable opportunity to take Connor, and that day Mrs Makepeace was rushing and stressed so Holly approached her outside a shop and offered to look after the baby for a few moments whilst Mrs Makepeace went into the shop, and as Holly wore the uniform of a local private school and was well-spoken, Mrs Makepeace agreed. Holly then took Connor away, and the gang contacted Don asking for ransom money and giving him messages in the local paper of where to drop the money. But Amanda says that Don didn’t have confidence in the usual police procedures for rescuing kidnap victims, so he turned to his ex-colleagues in the special forces for help to secretly rescue his son and to kill the kidnappers, and this coincided with the police trying to cover-up the killing of Shenk while secretly in custody. Amanda says that Ashleigh (the earlier ‘Holly’) had been following Gabriel for some time, suspicious that he would try and do again to another young person what he did to her, and saw Holly with him and wanted to save her so alerted the police and was given Marie-Claire as a police contact to report things to. Amanda says that Marie-Claire used to work with Don in the special forces so helped him with the plan to get his son back and kill the kidnappers, and she also had Ashleigh reporting to her about Gabriel’s movements and what he planned to do. Ashleigh by now had befriended Holly who had told her about the forthcoming meeting at the warehouse, which Ashleigh reported to Marie-Claire as she was worried that the baby was going to be harmed there, and Marie-Claire realised that this was the same location that Don had been told by the kidnappers to drop off the ransom money so it must be the Angels and Gabriel who had stolen Don’s baby. Amanda says that Marie-Claire, in her job as a police officer, was later that evening also involved in the disposal of Shenk’s body and had realised that the Angels cult being dead at the warehouse made that a perfect location for Shenk’s body, so Childs was told to take Shenk’s body to the warehouse. Amanda says that because Holly escaped with the baby and phoned the police, Marie-Claire and Don had to quickly arrange the Angels’ bodies in a satanic layout and then leave the police to discover them, but Marie-Claire and Don followed the police car taking Holly and baby to the children’s centre and soon took back Don’s son and returned him home. Amanda says both cover-ups were successful only because everyone believed their own version of events, and Don and Marie-Claire have killed at least seven people who got too close to the truth. Amanda says that the bullet which was shot at Gabriel didn’t kill him, it fractured his skull and his body went into shock which then reduced his pulse and breathing to such low levels that the paramedics thought he was dead, and that apparently when a gun is fired several times with a silencer it can malfunction like this. She adds that if Jonah hadn’t clung to him, then Don’s team would have slit Gabriel’s throat thinking he was already dead. Amanda says that Gabriel lost his memory from the skull fracture, but he isn’t a murderer. Omg, omg, omg! I can hardly take all this in, it’s all so dramatic, I never suspected for one moment that the baby wasn’t Holly’s and definitely never suspected at all that Don was involved in this any more than just helpfully trying to answer Amanda’s questions. Wow, wow, wow! And I have so many questions, my mind is spinning! But I am also struck with quite how many coincidences there are, with there being two cover-ups and Marie-Claire involved in both. And there was no Angels cult, it was all just a kidnapping scheme, the whole Angels thing was just a tale that Gabriel told Holly and Jonah, but why bother with telling them this tale really, it seems a bit overly complicated, I know he had to convince them to assist with the kidnapping and the looking after the baby until the ransom was paid, but wasn’t it a bit radical to leap to the idea of telling them they were angels and the baby was the Antichrist, wouldn’t something else have done, or just plain threats?

Oliver continues to insist that he believes there is still something psychic going on, and then Amanda admits to him that she has been fooling him all along in order to demonstrate that he can be taken in and to pay him back for what he did to her all those years ago, she says she knows he is affected by caffeine so gave him sweets containing caffeine when they met up with people so that he felt dizzy afterwards and thought that the person had spiritually affected him, and she has sent him fake emails from spiritual counsellors. What?! We seem to be going off tangent a bit here, I feel I am still struggling to take in all the information about Don’s baby that we’ve just been given, I’m not sure why we’re now doing this bit of story. And the kind of vendetta that Amanda has against Oliver and the way she has played with his mind, makes me a bit uncomfortable. I can understand she feels angry and bitter about the effect he had on her life, and that he didn’t feel any responsibility about this or even remember it had happened, but still, it’s quite disturbing how she planned everything out like this. And I guess really that Amanda has done to Oliver what Gabriel did to Holly and Jonah, so is this one of the points of Hallett’s book, one of the twists, that we’re reading about something being done 18 years ago and yet not seeing that it’s being done again throughout the book? 

Oliver says he still believes that Lady Louise Windsor is the Antichrist and he is going to kill her, even though he expects he will die in the process. Amanda then speaks to Ellie, who says that it was her who told Oliver about Lady Louise Windsor. Amanda tells Ellie that this is incorrect, and the baby was a boy not a girl. What?! This seems a bit strange that Ellie would just tell Oliver her theory of the baby being Lady Louise Windsor, I thought she didn’t even know Oliver, and surely she wouldn’t ever share information on Amanda’s stories, particularly with a competitor. 

A short while later, Oliver contacts Amanda telling her that he is on the roof of Lady Windsor’s school with a gun which he was given from the ex-soldier that he interviewed. The roof he is on is called The Orchard Building. Ooooh, Gabriel said that an orchard would be important in Oliver’s life, we’re not supposed to think now that Gabriel is in fact some kind of psychic, are we? 

Amanda heads to the school to try and stop Oliver, but she tells Ellie that in case something happens to her she has posted something to Ellie giving the actual details of Harpinder’s death. Ellie calls the police, and then tries to contact Amanda again but there is no answer from her.

The story is then taken over by Ellie. She says Amanda sent her a key to a safe deposit box which contained all her notes and printed Whatsapp messages and emails regarding the case, Amanda having deleted all the other electronic copies so these were the only ones in existence, and the safety deposit box also contained the film script that Holly wrote and which Clive Badham stole. The film script also detailed that Harpinder Singh lived in the neighbouring flat to Holly and Jonah and Gabriel, he had heard the baby crying for a long time so went to their flat to comfort the baby. Holly returned and found him there, she alerted Jonah and they leapt to the conclusion that he had come to steal the Antichrist to stop it from being sacrificed, so Jonah stabbed Harpinder with a kitchen knife and Holly hit him over the head with a cricket bat. Gabriel came back and Holly and Jonah explained what happened, and Gabriel recognised Harpinder as a neighbour. Ellie realises that Marie-Claire and Don therefore don’t know this and still think that Shenk killed Singh. What?! So Jonah and Holly killed Harpinder, and Shenk was murdered for nothing! Omg, the shocks just keep coming in this book, I am exhausted! 

Ellie says it was reported that Oliver shot Amanda at the school and then one of Lady Windsor’s protection team shot Oliver. Omg, omg, so Amanda is dead?? I didn’t expect that to happen either, I can’t believe the amount of shocks in this book. Plus it occurs to me that Amanda’s vendetta against Oliver and her playing with his mind, actually caused her death, as he went to the school in the first place because she had convinced him to believe in angels and the Antichrist. That is hugely and twistedly ironic!

Ellie speaks to Jonah, asking him if a former special forces soldier went with Oliver to the school and then encouraged Oliver to lure Amanda there and then killed them both. Oooh, so is Ellie meaning that Jonah was this person, or is she meaning Don? I had discounted all of that about the ex-soldier stalking Oliver, as that just seemed unrelated to this case, but are we supposed to think that it was all somehow part of it, planned by Don in order to provide a way to kill Oliver?

The Guildford Cold and Unsolved Murder Club write to Ellie pointing out how strange it is that two journalists who were working on the same case were both killed, that no independent witnesses saw what happened, that Lady Louise Windsor wasn’t at school that day so it is odd that armed police were so quickly on the scene, that both Amanda and Oliver were allowed through the school gates without being challenged, and that the roof of The Orchard Building was the only area not covered by security cameras. Hmmm, indeed, this does all look very suspicious. And it also makes me think that Amanda could easily have decided to not go to the school, she could just have called the police for them to go there, which surely would have been quicker, so is it not a bit of a stretch that she goes herself and therefore is put in the way to be killed? I’m thinking this is possibly a bit weak.

Ellie says that Amanda’s flat was burgled and her laptop and hard drives taken. Ellie then texts the number that Amanda was given for Mr Blue, and Don answers. I guess this makes sense if Marie-Claire met Amanda as Mr Blue, or is there more significance to this than I’m seeing?

Ellie contacts Clive Badham saying she knows that he stole the film script and telling him to destroy all the copies he has or face legal action. Hmmm, I think Clive has been lucky to avoid being killed over this.

Ellie says that she has researched Sonia Brown, the social worker, and has realised that she is Ashleigh who saved Holly and baby Connor, that she visits Gabriel in prison pretending to him that she still believes what he says and she painted the symbols at the site of the old warehouse at the instigation of Gabriel, and that she does this so he then trusts her and tells her things which she then passes to Don. Hmmm, isn’t this the same Sonia that Amanda threatened at the start of the book in order to try and get information from? It seemed like they had known each other for some time as Amanda refers to a previous case they were both involved in, so does this mean that Amanda got involved in this Angels case at Ashleigh’s suggestion?

At the end of the book, Ellie writes to the reader saying that Gabriel is innocent of Harpinder’s death, as was Shenk, and that Gabriel is innocent of the deaths and mutilations of the other Angels, and the two people who killed Harpinder are still free. But she says that Gabriel is still a dangerous psychopath and would hurt people if freed from prison. But she then questions if Don and Marie-Claire should be allowed to get away with what they’ve done and continue to do. However, she says that Don and Marie-Claire can and will do anything to keep what happened hidden, and she herself isn’t willing to take the risk of exposing them. She leaves it to the reader to decide what to do. 

Well, that comes round nicely to the start of the book then. Wow, a lot to ponder, I feel like my mind is scrambled! But what a great book with amazing twists and turns, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and will now enjoy dissecting it…! So due to Hallet’s genius as a writer, aiming to tease her readers and leave ambiguities floating everywhere, I am left with lots of questions and thoughts, many of which I trust Hallett to have provided answers to and which I probably missed by racing through the book and also not knowing which were the important bits of information to retain. So obviously I feel I now need to re-read the book, as I now know the relevant bits to look for and can hopefully find answers to all my questions, as well as allowing me to focus properly on all of Holly’s script now I realise this is the true story, as well as giving me another opportunity to admire where Hallett left her clues, and another opportunity to revisit all her tantalising red herrings, and even to potentially see how many angel hints Hallett has put into the book as I’m wondering if she is trying to tease us to believe things were caused by angels, which I’d discounted on my first reading! I kind of feel, as I have done with all of Hallett’s books, that no matter how many times I read and re-read them, there are an infinite number of questions, she is so wonderfully skilled at dropping little hints that just tickle your curiosity and send you off down a rabbit-hole, and yet she never seems to give firm answers in the books or indeed in any of her interviews, it’s like the gift that keeps giving, although a gift that could send you crazy and make you completely obsessed! So to re-read is no hardship as Hallett’s books are wonderful and often the second read is even more enjoyable that the first read as even more of her subtle genius pops out, which then sends me down different routes and thought processes and rabbit holes, and yet more questions! So below are my initial questions after my first read (with doubtless lots of repetitions and babble as I am confused by lots of things!) and (possibly, if I’ve understood things correctly!) the correct answers which I’ve then found on my re-read (although, as stated before, one answer often then leads to another question…).

Which flat was Harpinder’s body found in, after he was killed in Holly’s flat? Was he moved by Gabriel to another flat (or to his own flat), and if so how did Gabriel’s fingerprint come to be found in that flat? Or was he found at Holly’s flat where he was killed, but then I can’t understand why there weren’t more of Gabriel’s fingerprints found there (as well as also Holly’s and Jonah’s fingerprints)? – 
The Breaking News at the time said he ‘was not found in the flat he had been allocated’ at Middlesex House, where he was being temporarily housed. And in Holly’s film script, Gabriel asked Michael and Elemiah to help him deal with Harpinder’s body, and Elemiah said there was an empty flat next door so they would put the body there. But this makes me wonder about Gabriel’s fingerprints being found on a leaflet at that flat, was this Gabriel’s carelessness (would that have been likely from him?) or was the leaflet with Gabriel’s fingerprint planted there by Don/Marie-Claire, or by the police keen to arrest him after seeing the massacre at the warehouse that they believed he had committed? 

So was it actually Marie-Claire who met Amanda as ‘Mr Blue’? – 
Yes, as when Amanda revealed that Jonah passed her the note containing Marie-Claire’s name, she also stated that ‘Mr Blue’ was Marie-Claire.

Who did remove those wonderful mysterious symbols on the second floor of the warehouse and replace them with a blue circle, and why were they removed? – 
I’m thinking that the Angels didn’t remove the symbols before Don arrived with the money as the police officers wouldn’t then have seen them when they arrived in response to Holly’s 999 call, and the Angels can’t have removed them after Holly had been collected by the police as they were dead by then. Ellie thought the symbols on the second floor were removed in order to discredit the police officers’ testimonies (the police who responded to Holly’s 999 call) and to reinforce the mythology. But by whom, who wanted to discredit these police officers? I can’t see that Don or Marie-Claire would have had time to remove the symbols before the other police arrived in response to Gray’s 999 call (as they were a bit busy with the dismembering of the bodies!), so was it the other police (who responded to Gray’s call) who removed the symbols, but why would they be keen to discredit their fellow officers? And I can’t see the value of doing this extra job of removing the symbols, when everyone seemed very busy with other things. 

Amanda tells Oliver that she found out ‘online’ that the symbols represented Gabriel and Elemiah and Michael, but where/when did she get this information from? – 
It is written in Holly’s film script that Gabriel said the symbols represented the three of them, so presumably this is where Amanda got this from, not online.

And (still on with the symbols!) were the symbols on the second floor (that were erased) and the symbols on the basement floor so vastly different? – 
I’d presumed that the symbols on the second floor which Elemiah drew and Gabriel then added to, were different to the symbols on the basement floor, as I’m thinking if they were exactly the same then there would be no mystery of what the second floor symbols looked like as they would be the same as the ones photographed on the basement floor, there would just be the mystery of why the second floor symbols were erased. Gray’s notebook says he saw the symbols at the warehouse, but I guess these were probably the symbols in the basement with the bodies. And were the symbols that Gabriel asked Ashleigh to draw at the site of the warehouse (that Amanda and Oliver found) actually copies of the ones drawn on the basement floor or copies of the ones drawn on the second floor? I’m thinking, with Amanda’s interest in the second floor symbols, that it was those, but then would Gabriel remember what the mix of Elemiah’s and his symbols looked like when he’d lost his memory about everything else, and why wouldn’t he have chosen the symbols that were finally drawn on the basement floor? 

What was the relevance of Don telling Amanda that Jonathan Childs discovered Harpinder’s body, when Childs told his wife he didn’t discover it? And if it wasn’t Childs who found the body, then who did? And it is stated that Harpinder’s body was found on 9th Dec, but was he actually found on another date with Childs telling his wife that the timings of the finding of the body were deliberately wrong and that this was because they were wanting to scare him, was Childs therefore doing something he shouldn’t have been doing on the 9th Dec so therefore couldn’t challenge the official statement as he’d then have to reveal what he really was doing? – 
There was something about stating it was Childs who discovered Harpinder’s body as this then sent a message to his OCG connections, so by this did they mean Shenk’s associates, was Childs buying drugs from Shenk, was this his OCG connection? Or by embroiling Childs in the discovery of Harpinder’s body, did this ensure his silence about his knowledge of the disposal of Shenk’s body? But I can’t find out who did discover Harpinder’s body or why the timing of finding it should be important, so I am left wondering if it was in fact Childs who found the body, but then why would he tell his wife that it wasn’t him who discovered it? Or perhaps I’m just missing something here altogether! Gray said he was told by a senior police officer (presumably Don) to print that Childs found Harpinder’s body. And still with Childs, was he being investigated in 2021 because he had genuinely been passing information and manipulating evidence, or was it to put pressure on him to keep quiet about Shenk’s body because Amanda was beginning to look into the case and so him supposedly passing information and manipulating evidence was just lies created by Don to get Childs out of the force (although why now, after all this time)? Although Childs was of course being paid to effectively pass evidence to Dunning by letting him ride in his police car, and presumably he had done this with others, so were the allegations about him actually true? And was he killed by Don/Marie-Claire, or did he die of natural causes, as it was stated that he died of bowel cancer (but this was convenient timing-wise, just when Amanda was beginning her investigation)?

Was Mark Dunning living in America in 2021 when he was killed, as if Don/Marie Claire managed to kill him while he was in America then that seems quite a reach that they have? – 
I can’t find anything to say where he was living when he was killed. His diary said he swiftly returned to America in 2003 after the shock of seeing the bodies at the warehouse and fearing what he had become involved in. Amanda mentioned his American journalist wife, and Amanda contacted his American agents, so it would seem likely that he was living in America. Also Ellie herself informed his wife about Amanda’s death, which seems to imply that his wife doesn’t get English newspapers or see English TV so isn’t living in England (so therefore in America?). So maybe Don and Marie-Claire’s power and influence does reach all the way to America! And (as with Childs) what made Don and Marie-Claire decide to kill Dunning in 2021, they were surely aware that he’d already written a book about the Angels and yet this must not have been a sufficient threat to them at that time to make them decide to kill him then, were they really so fearful of Amanda’s investigation and that Dunning would now, after all this time, speak about what happened?

Why didn’t Gray report at the time that he had found the Angels’ bodies in the warehouse, as it would have been a great scoop? Or was he threatened by Don and Marie-Claire to keep quiet about what he’d seen at the warehouse? – 
Amanda thought Gray wouldn’t want to have to admit how he had got his insider information (ie, by listening to police radios) as he’d get into trouble for this and he’d also then not be able to use this source in the future. And as mentioned above, Gray said he was told by a senior police officer to print that Childs had found Harpinder’s body, so by promising to do this did he then avoid at the time being killed by Don or Marie-Claire? But if he was threatened by Don and Marie-Claire back in 2003 to keep quiet, this then makes me wonder why (as with Dunning and Childs), if threatening had worked and kept him quiet since 2003, they felt the need to kill him in 2021, they must have been confident that he wouldn’t talk back in 2003 so had no need to kill him then, so what made them doubt him keeping quiet in 2021, resulting in the need to kill him then? Or was he not killed and just died, coincidentally, of natural causes, just when Amanda began her investigation? When she texted him asking for information on why the police told him to name Childs as the one who found Harpinder’s body, she was told by the Medway NHS Trust that he had had a heart attack whilst replying to Amanda’s message, so it seems like he died alone in his council flat so could it really not have been Don or Marie-Claire killing him, was it just natural causes? But it happened just as Amanda texted him which seems a coincidence, but then how could Don or Marie-Claire know this and wish to stop him replying, and they must have needed to act extremely swiftly to get to Gray before he replied, and there was obviously no suspicion of foul play. I also wondered why Gray kept the photo he took of the bodies if he didn’t intend to publish it? Perhaps he thought he would perhaps publish it in the future, or perhaps he kept it as some kind of security against harm from Don and Marie-Claire (although that clearly didn’t work).

The above also leads me to query how Don and Marie-Claire knew so quickly who Amanda was going to contact, in order to be able to kill them before they spoke to her, eg, how did they know that Amanda had just arranged to meet David Polneath (as this was when he was killed, not when she’d been messaging him, but just after she’d arranged to meet him), and also with Dunning who was killed in a car crash at more or less the same time that Amanda emailed his agents in America (but she hadn’t yet actually spoken to Dunning and I didn’t think she had told Don that she was planning to speak to him), and with Gray (as above) who died just as he was replying to Amanda’s message? Were they tapping into her emails/messages? Or are we supposed to think there was some supernatural thing involved? –
Amanda said she thought that Don stayed in touch with lots of writers, like her and Oliver, so he could then know if anyone was investigating the Angels and was getting too close to the truth (but again, I wasn’t aware that Amanda had told Don of who she was planning to meet or talk to). And regarding Amanda being killed, Ellie told Amanda that she was contacting the police who would be able to get to the school before Amanda could (she was presumably trying to dissuade Amanda from going to the school), so was it Ellie calling the police that alerted Marie-Claire and Don to where Oliver and Amanda would be in order to then kill them (although as the ex-soldier was with Oliver at the school, presumably instructed by Don to entice him there, then they presumably already knew this)? I also can’t help thinking that by killing these people, Don and Marie-Claire are running the risk of drawing more attention to the fact that there is something to conceal. And there’s the paramedic who gave Amanda the valuable information that the Angels were actually killed by gunshot wounds, so if Don/Marie-Claire were monitoring Amanda’s calls or emails, how did this contact slip by them?

Amanda said that ‘there are at least seven people dead thanks to him (Don) and Marie-Claire’, so who are these seven people? –
I’m thinking Jonathan Childs (though with a question mark if it could have been natural causes), Gray (though again with a question mark if it could have been natural causes), Mark Dunning, television director Suzi Korman (she was making a documentary about the Alperton Angels and died in a fire at her home), and David Polneath. I was then puzzling who the other two were (and even wondering if, eeek, Amanda had had a premonition about her and Oliver’s deaths?!) but then I guess Elemiah and Michael were the other two that they killed, which makes seven. This, as above, this also leads me onto wondering again if some of the deaths were natural, such as Jonathan Childs from bowel cancer and Gray from a heart attack (but they seem very fortuitous timing-wise for Don and Marie-Claire, particularly Gray’s just as he was about to reply to Amanda’s text)?

And further (again) to my query on Don and Marie-Claire’s keenness to swiftly kill people who may pose the least threat, why wasn’t Clive Badham killed for his film script about the Angels (or rather Holly’s film script) as he sent the full script to TV producer Debbie Condon (even though he only sent the first few pages of the film script to other producers) and he won an award in 2005 for Best Unproduced Screenplay in the London Film Academy Awards for his film script based on the Angels? And why wasn’t the paramedic killed, as the information he gave Amanda about the Angels actually having been shot was surely something that Don/Marie-Claire would be keen to conceal? – 
I guess Clive’s award is perhaps an obscure one so that Don and Marie-Claire may not have known of his existence and the danger he could have posed (and obviously Holly didn’t know of it, as she’d have recognised it as her work), but they seem extremely thorough in other instances and quick to act so it surprises me that they didn’t act to silence him. But following on from this, Amanda got Jonah’s number from Debbie Conlon who did a tv series based on the Angels, so how has Debbie been allowed to survive too? And I still am puzzled why the paramedic was allowed to survive, obviously he hadn’t spoken about the gun shots to anyone so perhaps he was threatened at the time to keep quiet, but Don/Marie-Claire seem to have still killed people later who they had originally threatened at the time, in order to keep them from speaking to Amanda?

And still on this theme and just being curious (!), how does it work between Holly attempting to pay someone off to conceal what they’ve learnt about the Angels, and Marie-Claire or Don killing them? –
Are Holly and Marie-Claire and Don talking together about these people who present a threat, is the money offered first by Holly and then if this doesn’t deter them they are killed by Marie-Claire or Don, or does it depend on their perception of the person’s likely perseverance and this is what decides them on the best way to deal with them, or do both often act independently of each other and sometimes one isn’t aware of a person causing a threat as the other has already neutralised them, either by money or by killing? And it’s interesting to consider that Holly has concealed from them (and Ashleigh) that it was she and Jonah who actually killed Harpinder (not Shenk, as they appear to still believe). 

And so Ashleigh didn’t know anything about whose baby it was, that it wasn’t Holly’s and was actually Don’s baby who had been kidnapped? –
Holly tells Ashleigh, outside the warehouse, that it isn’t her baby. But I’m guessing that Ashleigh never then knew that the baby was Don’s, and Holly doesn’t seem to know this either as she said to Amanda when asked what happened to it, ‘I’ve no idea…taken away’, and Amanda thought that Holly was ‘genuinely clueless about where the baby went’. I guess Holly wouldn’t perhaps have any reason to know, but then why does she think Don and Marie-Claire were involved in the first place, does she think they were just being kind (if you can call killing the kidnappers kind!) and trying to return a kidnapped baby to its parents, although by ‘taken away’ this more implies taken away into care as opposed to being returned to the parents he had been stolen from. This also makes me wonder if it wouldn’t have been likely that the hospital would have examined Holly when she arrived there with the baby, after she had supposedly recently given birth (Connor was only a few months old), to check if she was well and healthy. If they had done so, then they’d have realised that she hadn’t in fact given birth and this wasn’t her baby.

Did Don know from the start that it was Gabriel who had stolen his baby, or did he only learn that because Ashleigh reported to Marie-Claire about the baby with Gabriel potentially being harmed at the warehouse, and this mention of the warehouse then matched the location that Don had been told to leave the money? –
If Ashleigh’s report was the only clue to the kidnapper being Gabriel, then it all feels very lucky and coincidental for Don, that Ashleigh happened to be following the person who had stolen his baby and happened to be reporting this information to Marie-Claire, of all the possible police officers she could be given as a contact.

So Ashleigh is now a social worker, Sonia Ashleigh Brown? – 
This seemed to be what Ellie thought at the end of the book, as her email called her by this name, she also stated that Sonia had a pendant with two angels wings on it, and that she had been at the prison visiting Gabriel (Gabriel’s ‘fan club’ were photographed in the paper and Ellie recognised Sonia from this picture), and she thought Sonia should be congratulated for being a hero by rescuing Connor and Holly and Jonah and for convincing Gabriel that she was still under his spell so she could report what he said to Don and ensure he stayed behind bars and couldn’t harm anyone else. Holly also said that Ashleigh had changed her name, so this could fit with her now being known as Sonia. And Amanda’s friend, Sabrina (who dealt with Amanda when she herself was in care), told Amanda that a colleague of hers dealt with Ashleigh in 1991 when she was a child rescued from Gabriel, and that Ashleigh went back to her mother and did a college course and became a social worker, so this also fits. 

And so what was the history between Sonia Brown/Ashleigh and Amanda, how long had they known each other? –
They appeared to know one another before Amanda started investigating the Angels, as Amanda refers to Sonia/Ashleigh as acting alone and outside of her role on the Three Beeches leak which Amanda threatened could result in Sonia/Ashleigh losing her job and facing criminal charges so Amanda stated that as she helped Sonia/Ashleigh keep this secret and therefore protected her, then she now owed Amanda and should therefore look at the Social Services computer for her, but Sonia/Ashleigh then stated that she had done all that purely to help Amanda. And I wonder what the Three Beeches was and if it has any relevance to this Angels story or to Amanda’s story, was it a children’s centre? And it didn’t seem apparent that Amanda knew Sonia Brown was Ashleigh, it seemed to be Ellie who discovered this at the end, or did Amanda know this and was this why she wanted to write the story in the first place?! 

And following on from the Sonia/Ashleigh question, could it have been that she was complicit (or at least knowledgeable) in Amanda’s death? –
Ellie wrote an email to Sonia/Ashleigh (but doesn’t actually send this email) saying that ‘you conspired together to ensure Amanda couldn’t reveal what she knew about that night…’ and Ellie implied they did this in order to ensure that Gabriel stayed in prison ‘whatever the cost’. Presumably Sonia/Ashleigh’s conspiring was with Marie-Claire and Don, as Ellie says that ‘everything Amanda told Sonia or Don went straight to Marie-Claire’, so did Sonia/Ashleigh report Amanda’s progress to Marie-Claire knowing that this was likely to lead to Amanda’s death? And if so, did she do this because Amanda had threatened to get her sacked if she didn’t supply information to her, therefore did Amanda’s questionable/aggressive research methods actually contribute to her own death? 

And what did happen in Amanda’s family? –
It seemed like Amanda’s past was a story that was hinted at but never fully explained, but then why introduce it in the first place, is there more significance to this than first appears? Looking back at the details given, Amanda said in her note to Aunty Pat that she had heard that Uncle Jack had died, so was Uncle Jack her abuser, and was he the husband of Pat and this was why Pat was so angry at it all? Pat stated that the stress of it killed Amanda’s mother, and affected Amanda’s siblings and ‘even’ her cousins, so perhaps the abuser was actually Amanda’s dad as it seemed to more directly affect her immediate family (with the cousins described as ‘even’ being affected so therefore implying they were expected to be less affected than Amanda’s siblings). I guess if the abuser was Amanda’s dad then this could be Pat’s brother, which would also explain her defensiveness of him. And what happened to Amanda’s abuser, was he jailed or was he not prosecuted, is he now dead? There is no mention of what happened to him, unless it was actually Uncle Jack who we know has died. Pat said that it had been 26 years since Amanda told lies about them and left the family, and Ellie says (in the first chapter of her book) that Amanda reported to police when she was 12 that she was being abused by a family member and she was then taken into care. But are we supposed to read more into this in relation to this Angels story, was there a connection between Amanda and either Ashleigh or Holly when they were in care, it seems quite coincidental that all three (Amanda and Ashleigh and Holly) were in care and there not to be some link between them. When she is talking to her old social worker, Sabrina Emanuel, Amanda describes Ashleigh and Holly’s stories as being ‘close to home, literally’, so again that makes me wonder just how similar Amanda’s experience was to Holly and Ashleigh’s? And when Amanda meets with Holly (Lady Georgina), she (Holly) says ‘I know your background, Amanda, you’ll understand that, like you, I’ve put that part of my life away’, so was this ‘background’ the abuse by a family member and being in care, or more than that, are we supposed to think that someone present in the Angels story (Gabriel?) is also Amanda’s abuser? Or did Ashleigh (as Sonia Brown the social worker) deal with Amanda when she was in care? But then I have the impression that Amanda and Sonia/Ashleigh are similar ages so I’m presuming this can’t be the case, and Amanda talks to her old social worker who is someone called Sabrina Emanuel. Or is it just to show that Amanda can be sympathetic to those who have been in care, and that her experience as a child made her slow to trust which is why she was angry and vengeful at Oliver for abusing her trust? 

Is there any significance in Amanda’s social worker being called Sabrina Emanuel, as Emanuel is a kind of angel name, isn’t it (or perhaps more religious, rather than an angel)? And is there significance to the names of other characters too? Oliver’s surname is mentioned a couple of times as being pronounced as ‘Mingis’, though spelt as Menzies, the pronunciation is similar to the spelling of Gabriel’s surname of Angelis so is there anything in this? And why does Gabriel use the name Holly for both girls (Ashleigh and Lady Georgina), is there something special about this name of Holly? And Amanda also clarified to Ellie that Holly’s name of Rowley is pronounced like ‘Holy’, so is there significance to the pronunciation of this too? –
I can’t find anything by googling ‘Mingis’ so maybe there is no relevance but it seems strange to have it particularly mentioned. And Holly sounds a bit like Holy so perhaps this is why Gabriel chose that name, and the same with Rowley being pronounced like Holy, as I guess Holy ties in with the angel theme (which again makes me wonder if there is a similar relevance to specifying how Oliver’s surname is pronounced). And it is emphasised too that Quarr Abbey is pronounced as ‘core’, so is that relevant too? Or am I just getting obsessed?!

And how did Holly/Lady Georgina end up in care in the first place and having the name of Rowley Wild, as wasn’t she from a wealthy family? – 
Jess Adesina (who was at school with Holly and is now her partner) told Amanda that Holly experienced ‘chaos, drugs and neglect’ from her family and she was moved to a foster placement, she said that Holly’s parents were Lady and Lord Carlisle and they met in rehab and had lots of addictions, that Lord Carlisle was a second cousin to the Queen and had spent the family fortune on heroin and cocaine and was jailed for possession of drugs, and Lady Carlisle was in and out of psychiatric care. They changed Georgina’s surname to Ogilvy when they ran out of money and had to send her to a cheaper school. So was her name changed again to Rowley Wild when she was moved again to an even cheaper school? And this reminds me that Social Worker, Ruth Charalambos, told Amanda that she’d dealt with Holly/Rowley Wild before she absconded from care to join the Angels and that she was a mature determined woman from a wealthy family, not at all a victim who could be easily led, so I’m thinking Ruth’s judgement was wrong here as Holly was led into believing what Gabriel had told her about them being Angels, to the extent that she contributed to murdering Harpinder on these beliefs, so part of me feels that this is another misleading bit (like Aileen’s forgotten lies), another seeming inconsistency introduced to seem mysterious which isn’t actually an inconsistency or mysterious? But I guess this could go to show how even strong people (like potentially Holly) can be brainwashed, and I guess Ruth didn’t know how persuasive Gabriel was.

Oliver frequently told Amanda that he has an exclusive interview with a person she doesn’t even know exists, so who is this person, and is it relevant, or was he just lying and trying to sound big? –
When Amanda was taunting Oliver with how she had fooled him, he told her that he had fooled her into believing that he had an exclusive interview when he actually hadn’t. So he was lying then, this is just another meaningless red herring.

The three Angels (Gabriel and Michael and Elemiah) were shot by Marie-Claire, but how was the fact that they’d actually died from a gunshot wound not discovered? – 
Maybe there was no autopsy, but I’d kind of presumed that any violent death would have had to have an autopsy. Or did Don/Marie-Claire have enough sway to avoid an autopsy, or to influence (or kill) the person conducting this? And it was Jidi (the paramedic who was called by the police to the warehouse) who stated to Amanda that they had all been shot in the head, so why hadn’t he spoken about this before, presumably he’d have had to complete a report? Or was he too threatened by Don or Marie-Claire to keep quiet? And I am still puzzled at how Jidi missed that Gabriel was alive, I know Marie-Claire told Amanda that Gabriel’s pulse was extremely low so this made people think he was dead, but this is a professional, for goodness sake, would he make a mistake like that?

So how did Gabriel get from the warehouse (when he regained consciousness) and end up in Ealing, when there were police officers constantly at the warehouse from when Gray called 999? –
Amanda says to Oliver, when she is reviewing Gabriel’s criminal record, that ‘he’s tracked from the bloodbath at The Assembly and arrested in Ealing’, and the Guildford Cold and Unsolved Murder Club said that Gabriel was ‘on the run, his mugshot is circulated and he’s recognised by a hostel resident in Ealing and caught on 13th Dec’. It seems that Marie-Claire was told of him being alive when she was sat in Aileen’s car, as presumably that was the point at which Jonah was pulled away from Gabriel so Gabriel’s ‘body’ was examined further and found to actually be alive. Although, that’s not right, as Jidi (the paramedic) examined Gabriel’s ‘body’ when Jonah was pulled off him and he thought Gabriel was dead at that point, so when was Gabriel discovered to be alive as there can’t have been much time between Jidi examining him and thinking he was dead, and Marie-Claire getting the phone call? Or am I wrong on what this phone call was to Marie-Claiire? Omg, I’m so confused! So when Gabriel was discovered to be alive, was he still not conscious at that point and did Marie-Claire then move him to Ealing and dump him there and then ‘find’ him later when he regained consciousness? I thought at first, when Marie-Claire was at the warehouse and was told off by the other police officers for moving one of the bodies and she said she thought that the person was still breathing, that she was moving Gabriel at that time as she’d noticed he was alive, but then I realised she was actually bringing Shenk’s body into the warehouse at that point (pretending she’d found him on the landing above and saying that she thought he was still breathing so had brought him to the lights rigged up over the Angels’ bodies in order to check). I can’t see that the police officers stated that they found Gabriel alive amongst the carnage, and surely it was these police (not Marie-Claire or Don) who discovered he was alive, so if he was taken away and dumped by Don or Marie-Claire then these police had to be in on that part of it too (even though they weren’t in on the fact that the Angels had been shot by Marie-Claire rather than committing suicide). I guess if the police were in on it and were instructed to take away Gabriel and dump him (or had knowledge of this), then they could be agreeable to this if they believed he was an evil man who had mutilated the bodies of his fellow cult members and groomed Holly and Jonah into the cult and intended to kill a baby, so if him being taken away and dumped meant that it was more likely he’d be convicted and punished for this then they would perhaps agree to be complicit in it. Or was Gabriel not taken away and dumped, and instead just woke up in the warehouse? But then this seems to imply that he then secretly left the warehouse, and I don’t see how and when he could have done this and not been noticed as police wouldn’t have left the scene unguarded. And also going back to the ‘when’ part of this, Aileen saw Jonah still clinging to Gabriel’s body when she went to the warehouse with Holly and baby in the car so Gabriel was still presumed dead at that point and hadn’t woken and wandered off (or been discovered to be alive and taken away to be dumped) in the time that had elapsed for Holly to have been taken to the hospital and then Aileen having gone with Holly to the warehouse again. Also I’d presumed that the phonecall which Marie-Claire took while she was sat in Aileen’s car outside the warehouse and which seemed to shock her was that Gabriel was alive, but who made this call to her, as the police dealing with the bodies didn’t know Marie-Claire when she appeared with Shenk’s body (trying to pretend he was part of the Angels) as they only got her name from her name-badge and spoke scornfully to her, so surely these police wouldn’t call her to report that Gabriel was alive? Also what was she being told about Gabriel at this point, that his body was missing and they could see tracks showing that he had got up and walked off so she then put procedures in place to track him down, or was she told that he had been found alive either when they were studying the scene further or as his body was moved to be taken to the mortuary (but, again, this would mean that Gabriel was with police when it was discovered he was alive so therefore not free to just wander off by himself)? There is a reference to police officers coming out of the warehouse looking sick and upset, so was this something to do with Gabriel being found alive at that point and this was shock rather than the gruesomeness of the scene (as I’d first presumed)? But again that would mean that he would have been discovered to be alive whilst he was surrounded by police so couldn’t have left the warehouse himself. And the more I think about it, the more questions I have, such as Gabriel was described when he was found in Ealing as being ‘dishevelled but uninjured’, so was the fractured skull only known to Marie-Claire, was he not examined at a hospital after he was found and the fractured skull not discovered then? But then if his skull fracture was treated at hospital, how was the gunshot wound that fractured his skull not found (this goes along with my query about how the gunshot wounds on the other Angels’ bodies weren’t found if there was an autopsy)? Also Holly stated in her film script that Gabriel had an electronic tag, so surely it would have been easy to track him, even if we have no answers to how he got to Ealing in the first place? And my final thought (who am I kidding, there is no final thought about this?!), when Jonah pulled the knife on Holly and baby, Holly’s script says that Gabriel told Jonah to give the knife to the police officer but that when Jonah turned around there was ‘nothing. No-one there’, so was Gabriel actually indeed there and was at that point exiting the warehouse? Arrrg, my brain is scrambled! And following on from the question above, if it wasn’t that Gabriel was found alive or being told that they had to potentially dump the now alive Gabriel in Ealing, then what had shocked the police officers so much that they vomited and paced in distress after exiting the warehouse, or was it just (‘just’!) from seeing the mutilated bodies? 

And (another Gabriel question, omg!) what was Don and Marie-Claire’s intention with Gabriel’s body, if he hadn’t surprised them by actually not being dead? –
Their creation of the scene at the warehouse was that the Angels had slit their own throats at Gabriel’s instigation and then Gabriel had dismembered their bodies. So were they then going to create the scene that Gabriel had then slit his own throat and killed himself? I guess they wouldn’t have dismembered his body, as he couldn’t have dismembered his own body after apparently killing himself. But were they going to always put the blame for the Angels’ bodies on Gabriel, or did this part of the plan only occur to them when Gabriel left the warehouse?

And what was Don and Marie-Claire’s original plan for the discovery of the Angels’ bodies? – 
They obviously hadn’t planned on Gray suddenly arriving and calling the police. And did the police’s arrival alter their plans, as they must have had to at least act more swiftly than they’d intended? And what was their intention towards Holly and Jonah, who they obviously didn’t want to kill but knew would be there at the warehouse from the information that Ashleigh had given them? I’m presuming the plan from the start was to dismember the Angels’ bodies so as to make it look like a cult, so what were they going to do with Holly and Jonah while this was going on, and afterwards? I remember David Poleneath mentioned to Amanda that he thought ‘the media somehow got hold of this news (about the bodies in the warehouse) too soon after the events, so a planned cover-up couldn’t be finalised’.

So was it Marie-Claire who actually shot the Angels? –
Amanda said that there was ‘only one sniper to kill three people’ so that implies it was only Marie-Claire doing it, and when Marie-Claire explained to Amanda how Gabriel escaped death, she said the fact that only one gun (so only one sniper) was used was what caused the malfunction. And as an aside, I do wonder how Holly recognised Marie-Claire as the sniper though, as wasn’t she masked?

And was it just Don and Marie-Claire there at the warehouse with the ransom money, or were there others in Don’s team (all then keeping the secret of what really happened)? – 
Holly’s film script said that ‘several Dark Forces tear out of the building’, so this seems to imply that there were more people than just Marie-Claire and Don there. Holly’s film script also said that it was a different Dark Force dealing with Elemiah’s body than the one who dealt with Michael’s body, and that three Dark Forces approached Gabriel’s body, and that Don had left with the case of money by the time the dismembering started so Don wasn’t one of these three people, so were there at least four people altogether? Amanda said it was ‘Marie-Claire, Don, and their trusted team’, implying others along with Don and Marie-Claire. So this then makes me wonder who these people were, and was Don certain they’d be loyal to him and keep the secret of what actually happened, and are they (like Marie-Claire) continuing to work with him in killing people who get too close to discovering the secret (is this how people can be killed so swiftly, because there is a whole team working together?), or has Don killed them all (apart from Marie-Claire) to guarantee their silence?

And this leads me to wonder about the ex-soldier that Oliver wrote a book on and who was perhaps at the school with Oliver and who (presumably) killed Oliver and Amanda, was he one of the people in Don’s team at the warehouse? And who is he, do we actually know him as another character in the book? –
Oliver said that Don recommended him for the ex-soldier insight book, so Don would have known this ex-soldier and could have instructed him to be at Lady Windsor’s school to shoot Oliver and Amanda. Oliver told Amanda that the ex-soldier had supplied him with weapons and was there at the school with him, and he sent pictures from the school to Amanda but none of the pictures showed the ex-soldier. Ellie later refers to this person as a ‘former special services soldier’, and she also tried to get him convicted for war crimes that Oliver and Amanda have detailed and for which he was previously found innocent, so this implies he survived the killings at the school and that Ellie also doesn’t know who he is. I had wondered if it was actually Don, or even Jonah (there seemed to be something odd implied when Ellie spoke to Jonah in the pigpen at the abbey after Amanda had died, I wasn’t sure if she was hinting that he was the ex-soldier), but Ellie said that not even Oliver knew his real name even though he wrote his autobiography, so surely it can’t be Don or Jonah as Oliver knew them. Ellie says the official line was that Oliver shot Amanda and then one of Lady Louise’s protection team shot Oliver, so perhaps I’m wrong about the ex-soldier killing Amanda and Oliver but it surely seems likely that this happened, and on Don’s instruction.

So following on with the ex-soldier question, why (as above) does Ellie ask Jonah about the ex-soldier, what makes her think he would know about him? –
What does it mean when Ellie says that Jonah ‘makes a subtle gesture with his hands that draws my eyes to where he stands, ankle-deep in mud, shovel in hand, a sea of snuffling pigs rooting happily in their feed’, are we even supposed to think that Jonah has now killed the ex-soldier and fed him to his pigs?!

In Don’s first interview with Amanda, when she asked him where the Angels baby is, he seemed to change the subject and said that his son Connor wanted to get into journalism and asked her if she could give Connor some tips. But looking back at this, it seems almost obvious now that he was saying Connor was the Angels baby, or was careless enough to show that in his head there was a link (although Amanda (and I!) didn’t guess this at the time), so after all his care to conceal that it was his son who was the baby (even killing people!), why on earth would he slip like this and potentially give away the secret? –
I wondered if, for some reason, he was actually wanting Amanda to guess that it was Connor? Maybe so it can all then be explained to Connor, and so the killings can then stop?

Is there supposed to be some supernatural/angel element to all this? – 
The angel therapist that Oliver encouraged to contact Amanda as a joke, said that finding a white feather where you least expect it means that your guardian angel is watching over you, and Ellie found two white feathers in Amanda’s safety deposit box, both stuck to the back of her business card (Amanda had found one feather behind the pub while she waited for Mr Blue, and the other feather she found on Oliver’s shoulder when they queued to see Gabriel in prison). And the angel therapist said that the number 444 means a message from the divine, and it was 4.44am every morning that Oliver was phoned by the chemical toilet, and Childs’ badge number was 444, and Ellie said the audio file number of Oliver’s interview with Gabriel was number 444. But all these people died, so if there is some kind of divine intervention or guardian angel associated with this number, then it didn’t protect those people from danger. And (as I mentioned before), Amanda’s old social worker’s surname is Emanuel, which I thought was a religious/angel’s name. And Gabriel warned Oliver to beware of orchards, and then the school building he was killed on the roof of was called The Orchard Building.

And keeping with the potential supernatural element, when Jonah told Amanda and Oliver, at Quarr Abbey, that ‘nowhere is safe now’, what did he mean by this? –
I had presumed he just meant that Don and Marie-Claire will kill anyone who threatens their security, potentially including him. But I wonder now if he meant something else by this, something bigger than Don and Marie-Claire (something supernatural!)?

And still with the potential supernatural element, are we supposed to think that Gabriel actually has some kind of power? – 
Gabriel told Oliver that he was the focus of someone’s negative energy, which Oliver presumed was the ex-soldier he had written a book about and who Oliver felt was now stalking him, but I wonder if this person with power over him was actually Amanda which then leads me to wonder how Gabriel could have known about the way in which Amanda was tricking Oliver. Perhaps Gabriel was just aware that Amanda was very keen to join the interview and Oliver had also probably spoken about her within the interview, so he could guess she was an influential person in his life. Or did Gabriel recognise that Oliver was a person who could be brain-washed (with his experience of identifying suitable victims), so then presumed it was likely that he would be under someone’s power? Or was Gabriel just trying to be mysterious, as he could tell that Oliver felt awed by him? But I am still left wondering if Gabriel did have some kind of power, with him having warned Oliver to beware of orchards and then the school building he was killed on the roof of was called The Orchard Building, is there something powerfully mysterious in this, or is this just another example of Hallett showing the reader how easily we can see links when we want to? And when Jonah pulled the knife on Holly and baby, Holly’s script says that Gabriel told Jonah to give the knife to the police officer but that when Jonah turned around there was ‘nothing. No-one there’, but was this actually Gabriel giving a message to Jonah by some supernatural means, or just Holly’s and Jonah’s heightened emotions at the scene (or, going back to how Gabriel got to Ealing as detailed above, was it Gabriel exiting the warehouse and pausing to advise Jonah on the way?)? 

One police officer said that when he was new to the force and new to the area, a girl called Holly reported that the archangel Gabriel had told her to steal a credit card, so was this much earlier and it was actually Ashleigh and this was her escaping Gabriel? –
Yes, Amanda later clarified with the police officer the date of this incident, and he said 1990/1991 and that Ashleigh (as Holly) was a teenager then, so the first girl to be called Holly and groomed by Gabriel was Ashleigh in the 90s and the second girl was Lady Georgina in 2003. Gabriel had followed the same pattern with both girls, he had told Ashleigh that she was an angel and bought her a necklace of angel wings and said that the Antichrist was waiting to be born on earth and that they would look after it, and Ashleigh’s mum worked as a groundskeeper on a huge estate in Surrey and they lived in a little cottage on the outskirts of the land, so perhaps Gabriel thought Ashleigh had connections to money, like Holly had later. He’d tried to get money from Ashleigh undertaking fraudulent credit-card transactions though, whereas with Holly he was aiming to get money from a ransom demand. Gabriel definitely seemed to have been in a relationship with Holly though, as she told Ashleigh that her boyfriend’s name was Gabriel, so presumably he was also in a relationship with Ashleigh too when she was Holly.

Why would Holly (with the baby) be taken back to the warehouse to pick up Joshua, surely after the trauma she reported that she’d gone through at that place then it was very insensitive to take her back there, couldn’t someone else have collected Jonah from the warehouse and brought him to Holly and baby at the children’s centre? –
Police officer, Aileen, hadn’t been told about what had happened at the warehouse, she also should have had a colleague with her that night but was on her own so this is why she asked Holly if she would go into the warehouse with her to collect Jonah as she was reluctant to leave Holly on her own with the baby after Holly had spoken about the baby being evil, but Holly refused to go into the warehouse again, which gave Marie-Claire the chance to offer to watch Holly. 

After Amanda meets with Mr Blue, she texts Sonia Brown saying ‘why didn’t you just say?’, so what did Amanda mean by this question? –
I thought at first that Amanda was asking why Sonia hadn’t just told her that Mr Blue was Marie-Claire, but then why would Amanda think that Sonia knew Marie-Claire? Amanda didn’t know at this point that Sonia was Ashleigh and was supplying information to Marie-Claire about what Gabriel had said in jail, did she? I had thought that Sonia Brown had given Amanda the number for Marie-Claire/Mr Blue, but on my re-read I see it was Jonah who passed Amanda a note with Marie-Claire’s name and number on. Also Ellie tells Don that the number he is replying to her from (after Amanda’s death) is the number that Sonia gave Amanda as Mr Blue’s number, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to read more into this but it seems to make sense as Marie-Claire was Mr Blue and she works with Don.

Don gave Amanda Julian Nowak’s name as a contact, but he was the social worker that dealt with Ashleigh in the 90s not Holly in 2003, so why did Don give Amanda a clue that potentially the whole thing was bigger than she thought and there was another Holly? –
I wondered if Don was just confused, or did he see no harm in her knowing that Gabriel had done this brainwashing before? Or again, with Don seeming to hint earlier on to Amanda that his son Connor was actually the baby, was he just wanting Amanda to solve all this so it could then end?

David Polneath, the amateur detective fascinated with the Angels case, told Amanda that his fascination was because he found himself ‘in a comparable situation at a similar age, many years ago’, that he had looked for a new family but realised too late that they didn’t have his best interests at heart, so is this relevant? –
I wondered if he was in some way involved with Gabriel, back in Ashleigh’s time?

So, like Amanda asked Don, who did report the bodies of the Angels? –
Don told Amanda that he thought Holly said something at the hospital which resulted in the nurse making a 999 call, but the nurse told Amanda that she didn’t make a 999 call and that she didn’t know about the bodies until she saw it on TV later. It was Gray who called the police from the warehouse when he saw the bodies, but he didn’t give his name.

Why does Gabriel go to Meadow View Care Home to sit and talk to three elderly women (as stated in Holly’s film script)? –
I can’t really fathom this, I can’t see that there was any connection with the kidnapping of Connor and the Angels story that he had told Holly and Jonah, and these elderly people. Or was he planning his next scheme and trying to extort money off them? 

When Amanda meets with Clive Badham, she said that she believed that Holly was in the cafe too watching them, ‘if my hunch is correct…I hope it’s her and she can see me’. So who was this person, was it Holly (ie Lady Georgina), or was it Ashleigh? –
I wondered if Amanda even actually knew what either of them looked like at that point (and if she knew that Ashleigh was Sonia Brown)? Or was Amanda entirely wrong and it was just a random woman?

What suddenly makes Amanda realise that the baby was Don’s? –
Obviously Amanda doesn’t share much with the reader (grrr!) so it’s hard to guess when she realised things, but her realisation on this just seemed to come out of nowhere, I felt. But perhaps when Holly said the baby wasn’t hers and that Holly clearly had no idea of what had happened to it, perhaps then Amanda put this together with the fact that there must have been a reason why Don was so involved and was at the warehouse and yet had concealed this and had gone to the extent of killing the Angels and others since. I suppose because I didn’t guess this, it then made me wonder what I missed that Amanda saw. 

What are these ‘special forces’ that Don used to work for, and Marie-Claire too? –
I wondered if they were something like the MI5?

Why did Ellie tell Oliver about her suspicion that the baby was Lady Louise Windsor? –
I know she said she felt sorry for Oliver, but I really find it difficult to believe that Ellie would have gone behind Amanda’s back in the first place and given details of Amanda’s research (she wasn’t to know that Amanda had since changed her mind about it) to one of Amanda’s competitors. And I didn’t think Ellie even knew Oliver, or had contact details for him. It almost made me begin to suspect Ellie in some way, that she was part of the concealment with Don and engineered Oliver and Amanda to act as they did and to be in a certain place so they could be in a situation to be killed, as Oliver only went to the school (which resulted in Amanda then also going there and them both being killed) because Ellie told Oliver about her Lady Louise Widsor idea. And I then wondered what Don and Marie-Claire’s plan was for how and when Amanda would otherwise have been killed, as surely she was getting too close to the truth so would have to be killed? Ellie doing what she did seemed to hand them the opportunity on a plate but surely Amanda’s days were numbered anyway. I did like Ellie though, I thought her little comments within the transcribing were really amusing, and she shared her thoughts and guesses with Amanda so therefore with us the reader, in contrast to Amanda not sharing with the reader.

Aaarrgh, so many questions! And I know there aren’t necessarily answers to them all, as the beauty of Hallett’s books are that they are ambiguous and they encourage points to rattle around in your mind long after you’ve put the books down, that’s why I love them so much and think they are such excellent value for money because of how many (and many and many and many…!) hours of enjoyment and puzzlement I get from them. 

But although I have thoroughly enjoyed the book, I do have a few little frustrations about how some of the huge big mysteries of the book didn’t actually seem to turn out to be that mysterious in the end (although again, this is an opportunity for yet more praise for Hallett’s writing really, as the book thoroughly engaged me and I care about it so much that I have become obsessed with all the little details). First and main frustration is, the symbols in the warehouse as they basically meant nothing, they were just marks made in order to give Don a place to put the suitcase of money, so this therefore all felt a bit misleading, making something seem important and a mystery when it wasn’t actually of any great importance, a very attractive but meaningless red herring, but I spent soooo long pondering the meaning of these symbols! I guess one meaningful point of the symbols was that Don and Marie-Claire were able to use them to help convince the public that the Angels were part of a dangerous cult, but it’s then very convenient that the symbols were drawn in the first place for them to be able to use like this. Hmmm, I just can’t help feeling now that this symbols thing is a bit thin really. 

Second frustration is, Aileen’s lies and her then forgetting those lies, such as saying the knife incident with Jonah happened at the children’s centre and was witnessed by the manager, rather than at the warehouse where it actually happened which resulted in the manager understandably denying all knowledge of this incident to Amanda, and also Aileen telling the manager of the children’s centre that she was called Marie-Claire in order to avoid potentially being blamed for not following procedure and reporting Jonah for the knife incident, so the manager then informed Amanda that it was someone called Marie-Claire who dropped off Holly and Jonah and the baby, not someone called Aileen. Both caused me huge puzzlement and many hours (though enjoyable hours) spent wondering what this could all mean, so it then just felt a little bit misleading and sneaky to me afterwards to have introduced the suggestion of a mystery where there was really only a forgotten lie and something that was misremembered.

Third frustration is, the mystery of the number of dead bodies at the warehouse as that mystery was just Shenk’s body being secretly added to the Angels’ bodies and Gabriel actually being alive. There were three bodies (the Angels), then there were four bodies (Shenk being secretly added), then there were three bodies (as Gabriel was alive). So, again, a bit misleadingly mysterious as it wasn’t anything supernatural that caused this discrepancy in the number of bodies, it was just a mixture of the covering-up of Shenk’s body and the mistake in not noticing that Gabriel wasn’t dead. 

And fourth frustration is, Amanda! I didn’t like her methods of forcing people to give her information, and then I got more and more frustrated at how much she concealed from the reader, as she would often speak with someone but not give the reader all the facts of what was discussed. One example was when Jonah passed her the note with Marie-Claire’s name on, I can see why she would have kept that information from Oliver but I found it annoying that she kept it from the reader and just casually mentioned it much later. And her meeting with Marie-Claire when Marie-Claire explained what happened to Gabriel at the warehouse and how he survived, which I know Amanda said she transcribed herself as she didn’t want Ellie tangled up in something dangerous, but why did she then leave out these details from the transcript which only she was seeing at that point and which of course then denied the reader seeing it? Yes, this is all tantalising and teasing which increases the reader’s interest and obviously ensures the continuity of the plot, but there’s a fine line between tantalising the reader and just plain frustrating them, and I think I often crossed the line into frustration! And not just concealing things that have happened, but also concealing her thoughts and guesses from us too. 

And I think one of my overall feelings after finishing the book (several times!) is that I can’t help reeling slightly from how complicated the plot is and how much was going on! Yes, it was a great read (a wonderful read!) but phew, looking back at it did it need to be that complicated? Even Amanda’s summary to Oliver is quite a mouthful and demonstrates acutely, I feel, that even an attempt at a summary is quite involved, she said it was ‘a secret special forces operation to rescue the kidnapped baby of a senior police officer and, unlawfully, assassinate the unarmed perpetrators, an op that collided with a police bid to cover up the murder in custody of Chris Shenk’. Phew! So not only the plot of the killing of the kidnappers but also the plot of the killing of the man who it was thought had killed the undercover policeman and his body dumped at the warehouse along with the Angels bodies, and all this happening on the same night and at the same place, and Marie-Claire involved with both! And that’s just one aspect of it, I also felt the whole Angels/Antichrist story that Gabriel created was a bit overly complicated, in the end it was all just Gabriel and his gang stealing a baby for a ransom payout so wasn’t it a bit elaborate to make up the whole Angels story just to convince Holly to look after the baby, to spend all that time brainwashing her and Jonah with the Angels story, they surely could have just stolen the baby themselves if they were that determined to do so (I know Amanda thought they had to involve Holly due to them having criminal backgrounds and no money so they would have stood out with a baby, but anyone who could plan something as intricately as Gabriel could, should surely have been able to overcome that, I’m sure)? And then there’s the whole trick that Amanda played on Oliver and the shock of him going from that to wanting to kill Lady Louise Windsor, which then resulted in Amanda and Oliver being killed. The whole thing just went off on such a different tangent to how I was expecting, which is great storytelling, of course, but leads me back to thinking just how much there actually was in this one book. I’d definitely struggle to summarise it!

And along with this feeling of complications and coincidences, I can’t help being a bit surprised (even disbelieving?) about just how much Marie-Claire dealt with. I’m all for multi-tasking (!) but it seemed a little much, to be honest, that she was dealing with liaising with Ashleigh, planning the retrieval of Don’s baby, killing the Angels, covering up these killings, swiftly coming up with a plan regarding Shenk when fellow police officers contacted her to say they’ve killed him, disposing of Shenk’s body herself, also covering this up from the other police officers at the warehouse, chasing after Holly and baby Connor to the hospital and then to the children’s centre, presumably dealing with Gabriel being found to be alive (and I’m still not sure quite what she did regarding this), then killing various other people over the years in order to keep all this a secret. She must be very dedicated and very well paid or Don must have a hold over her in some way, as that is a lot going on for one person! And I can’t help feeling it’s a huge coincidence that Marie-Claire was involved in both missions (the retrieval of Don’s baby, and the disposal of Shenk’s body) and a huge coincidence that both happened on the same night. And to go back again to my point above about how complicated the plot is, I do wonder if we actually needed the Harpinder/Shenk killings, I think just the storyline around the retrieval of Don’s baby was gripping enough. And, just another little question (although I know I said I was done with questions!), when did Marie-Claire get changed from the black overall and goggles she wore as the sniper to kill the Angels, into the police uniform she wore when she met Childs bringing Shenks’ body to the warehouse? Maybe she had that on underneath the overall, but how did she know she was going to need it? Just instinct?!

And I am still a bit surprised (and uncomfortable, if I’m honest), with Amanda’s brainwashing and fooling of Oliver, the premeditation and planning behind it all and the sheer determination to knowingly and deliberately cause him bodily distress (with the caffeine) and mental distress. Even Ellie told Amanda that everything Gabriel did, she also did to Oliver. I can see that Oliver’s practical joke and his lack of realisation and appreciation of the huge life-changing effect it had on her, would have made Amanda justifiably angry. But she seemed to live with this for all the years until she met him again, she didn’t seem to harbour resentment for all that time and seek him out to punish him, she just got on with her life and overcame the adversities she faced. I realise that some of her anger was at learning how insignificant he viewed the whole incident, so I can see that her resentment could grow from that. But does her plan of action not seem a little out of proportion, although I guess she wasn’t to know how big it would get. I had even begun to wonder, due to how angry she was at him and how much she plotted to bring him down, whether it was actually Oliver who had attacked her outside the pub and injured her and stolen her coursework? But I presume not, it seems out of character for him, and if he had done this then surely he wouldn’t work with her as he’d be haunted by what he had done every time he saw her and presumably worried if she would realise it was him and report him. And I also wondered why Amanda would spend all this time tricking Oliver when she was dealing with so many other important things at the same time (a bit like why Marie-Claire took on so much), she was dealing with not just the Angels case but also her fear that she was under threat and in danger from investigating this case, so I would have thought that all her attention needed to be directed towards those things really, though I suppose her learning what Gabriel did perhaps gave her the idea and the opportunity to practise the same thing herself on Oliver. 

I also feel a bit sad with Amanda dying, a bit cheated really, as she was our main narrator, and also the reader wasn’t actually ‘with’ her when she died, we’re just given very vague details afterwards, which I realise fits in with the mystery and sinisterness of it all, but it kind of feels in a strange way unfair to Amanda as she had brought the reader along on this journey with her and we don’t get to say goodbye to her really (silly as I know that sounds). And speaking of narrators, I had wished a few times earlier in the book that Ellie was the narrator rather than Amanda, but I realise now that another twist of the book is that Ellie kind of is the narrator as she is the one who presents Amanda’s findings (the contents of the safety deposit box) to the reader.

And I’m a bit uncomfortable (well, obviously that’s an understatement, as it regards taking lives!) with Don and Marie-Claire killing all the people who get too close to the truth. I feel it’s quite a twist that I should have felt sympathy for Don with his baby being kidnapped, and I could even understand his anger at the kidnappers and wanting to punish them, but he’s then killed so many innocent people after that (including presumably Amanda and Oliver) that I can’t feel any sympathy for him. And mixed in with that, is the mention in the book of several real-life kidnap cases, which I then read up about and obviously had huge horror and sympathy for those victims and for their families, so again it seems a little ‘off’ almost to have a character who has experienced the awful horror of having someone they love taken from them and fearing what could be happening to them, ie Don, and who’d I’d instinctively want to feel sympathy for, to act like this. So effectively making one of the victims into a baddie, which left me a bit confused with my feelings (although I guess this could be praise again for Hallett’s writing and her skill at twisting the plot and our feelings).

Though (as I said above) I think I’d struggle to summarise the book, I did give some thought to what I felt the main themes of it could be, and the main points that I thought Hallett was making. One theme, I think, is that trying to decide guilt and innocence isn’t always that easy or that black and white, as the reader is left (like Ellie was left) with the knowledge that Gabriel was innocent of killing Harpinder so has been in jail for many years for a crime he didn’t commit, but then to right this injustice, even though it initially seems the right and fair thing to do, would potentially create more harm as to have Gabriel released from jail would probably put others at risk from his brain-washing, and there’s the grey area (going with the black and white theme) that Holly and Jonah only killed Harpinder because of the lies that Gabriel had told them, so is Gabriel actually morally responsible if not physically responsible for Harpinder’s murder (and Ellie seems to think this, as she told Jonah that Gabriel was the most guilty for Harpinder’s death as he encouraged them to believe in dark forces, which was the belief they were following when they killed Harpinder)? And I think another theme is brainwashing and the suggestion that potentially anyone could be vulnerable to this, even if they think they wouldn’t be, with Amanda brainwashing Oliver like Gabriel brainwashed his victims. And another theme could be cover-ups, as there are soooo many of these, in fact thinking of a potential list of them makes my head ache a bit! There’s the covering up by Marie-Claire and the guilty police that Shenk was killed by police and wasn’t one of the Angels, the covering up by Don and Marie-Claire of their killing of the Angels/kidnappers, the covering up by Don and Marie-Claire that Don’s baby was kidnapped in the first place, the covering up by Jonah and Holly that they killed Harpinder (which even Don and Marie-Claire still don’t realise), the covering up by Don and Marie-Claire of the other people they have killed who could have given information on what actually happened (and I’m still not sure how many they killed or if some died naturally and conveniently, or even supernaturally!), the covering up by Ashleigh to Gabriel that she is no longer under his power and now sees him accurately for what he is and is supplying information on him to the police, the covering up by Gabriel to Holly and Jonah that the kidnapping of Connor was solely for money, the covering up by Amanda that she was tricking Oliver, the covering up by Aileen that she didn’t report Jonah for pulling a knife on Holly by giving a false name to the children’s centre manager, the covering up by Clive Badham that it was Holly’s film script instead of his own work, there even sounds like there was some kind of cover-up with the Three Beeches (which Sonia/Ashleigh and Amanda exposed). Eeek, once I start thinking about it, there are just sooooo many cover ups and secrets and lies, it’s quite blowing my mind, and even those who appear to be on the same side are covering up things from each other. I guess I can’t then be surprised at Amanda covering up things from the reader!

It occurs to me that, like The Twyford Code, it’s actually a story within a story, with Holly’s Divine script being the real story hidden within the main story, like The Twyford Code was a story within a story, and so was The Appeal to a degree too. But omg, I still can’t believe the huge twist that the whole truth was actually contained within one of those accounts that was described as fictional and which I was just skim-reading and finding quite distracting and annoying, and then to find out that I should have been paying attention to that the whole time, sigh! And, as with The Twyford Code and The Appeal, it’s a wonderful story full of smokescreens and red herrings and is just amazing in the way it twisted round so completely, resulting in the end of the story being completely different to what the reader thought was the main focus at the start, ie not a cult at all but actually kidnappers stealing a baby for revenge and ransom money. Oooh, it’s such a clever story, Hallett is so talented at this! And while mentioning her other books, I think The Twyford Code is still my favourite as I enjoyed the feeling that clues were being given to me that I would be able to puzzle out to reach the solution if I tried hard enough (though I didn’t puzzle it out, obviously!), but Alperton Angels didn’t really feel like a puzzle we could work out or that clues were being given to us, as Amanda kept so much back from us.

I loved spotting all the little details in this book, such as the amount of times that 444 pops up. This is one of things that I love so much about Hallett’s books, that there is so much more to them than you can get on a first read, you are rewarded for reading it again and it feels such a bonus to then spot things and try to tie things together. Although inevitably (as I said before) this then brings more questions, which encourages more skimming back through and re-reading, so basically the book is very difficult to actually finish and put back on the shelf! I feel I definitely get my money’s worth with her books! I know she is compared to Agatha Christie, who I love, and I’d say her writing rates up there with Christie for cleverness, but I think she differs from Christie because she doesn’t give all the answers in the last few pages like Christie does, there are clues sprinkled throughout her books (just as Christie does), but she doesn’t neatly tie everything up at the end. I have to say that part of me likes the tidiness of Christie and having everything answered, but then there’s something very appealing about Hallett’s method and the suspicion it creates in you that the book has more to give if only you can spot it (and the hope that you might spot it on just one more read!). Her books are relentlessly tantalising! I can imagine all her books must be great to read with a bookclub, as everyone would probably pick up on something different so the discussions would go on and on!

I see her next book, The Christmas Appeal, is out to buy so I plan to read that very soon. And I think I’m about ready for a re-read of her other books too, The Appeal and The Twyford Code! And the Guildford Cold and Unsolved Murder Club also makes me tempted to re-read Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club. And the comparison with Agatha Christie also makes me want to re-read at least a couple of her books again, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, and A Murder is Announced being some (just some!) of my favourites.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett available on Amazon
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