The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart  Turton


Couldn’t have said it better myself. If, after reading the first few chapters, you find yourself feeling a bit discombobulated don’t worry. You’re in good company. Even the MC doesn’t know what the hell is going on.

 

Imagine you’re playing a real life game of Clue. You wake up one day as Col. Mustard & find yourself sequestered in a decaying old manor full of strangers. All you’ve been told is tonight someone will murder Miss Scarlet & your job is to identify the killer. Oh, and you have 24 hours. Because if you fail, tomorrow the whole day will play out again in exactly the same sequence. Except this time you’ll be Prof. Plum. Fail again & you’ll relive the same day as Mr. Green.

 

Now take this scenario & transfer it to Blackheath, home of the Hardcastles who’ve invited a throng of bickering, scheming guests for a special occasion. The plot & structure of the story is too complex to be reduced to a few sentences here. In this mash-up of Agatha Christie & Groundhog Day, the story centres around daughter Evelyn. And yes, she does die…a lot.

 

Our narrator & MC is Aiden Bishop although it takes a while before he (and we) know his true identity. There is a deliberate lack of the kind of information that gives a story context such as date & location that leaves you feeling uneasy & slightly uncomfortable. This bonds the reader with Aiden as we both struggle to make sense of his predicament. But eventually the reality of his situation is revealed & it’s a doozy. HIs first task each day is to figure out who he is & then continue his investigation. Luckily, he retains his memories as he jumps from one character to the next. This enables him to slowly put together the pieces as he sees the same events through different eyes. But it’s complicated by a wealth of suspects. With few exceptions, these are despicable people who have cornered the market on lying, cheating, stealing & blackmail. They don’t even seem to like each other & it’s not ’til the end that we understand why they ended up here.

 

This is not a lazy beach read. It’s a book that requires patience & attention to detail if you want to nail the killer. Hang in there, the payoff comes at the end when all is revealed & the true scope of the story takes shape.

 

It’s a clever, ambitious mind bender of a story that will test your memory skills. Hats off to the author, I truly don’t know how he managed to keep it all straight & avoid errors in continuity (I can’t help but picture him writing this in a room wallpapered with spreadsheets connected by strings). Ingenious, tense, mystical & haunting…this is a book you’ll think about long after you’ve finished.