The-Seven-Deaths-of-Evelyn-Hardcastle-jacket

This is, without doubt, my favourite book of 2018 so far.

Think Agatha Christie…with body hopping complications. Think locked room mystery…within which a murderer is seeking to kill all the incarnations of you. Think bloody good read, and you’ll be right.

What’s it about?

It’s not often that I steal the blurb wholesale, but this is quite good, so:

Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

What’s it like?

Stunning. Clever. Original. Just amazing really. And so beautifully written!

I think I loved this from the opening moments:

I forget everything between footsteps.

‘Anna!’ I finish shouting, snapping my mouth shut in surprise.

My mind has gone blank. I don’t know who Anna is or why I’m calling her name. I don’t even know how I got here. I’m standing in a forest, shielding my eyes from the spitting rain. My heart’s thumping, I reek of sweat and my legs are shaking. I must have been running but I can’t remember why.’

Ooooh. I want to share the many, many joys I experienced reading this as different pieces of a very complex puzzle began to slot together, but I’m conscious that the joy of this story lies exactly there: in unravelling the mystery, piecing together all the little pieces and gradually discovering who all the players really are. I would hate to deprive anyone of that joy, so all I’m going to say is, if you’re a murder mystery fan, read this. It is sooooo good.

Final thoughts:

“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home?” wonders Sebastien Bell, one of the party guests experiencing trauma at Blackheath. Witnessing Aiden gradually gather together not just the pieces of the puzzle but the pieces of himself ultimately leads to some reflections on the nature of evildoers. I really liked the way he found his ‘hosts’ increasingly over-powering his ‘true’ personality…which is also under immense pressure from his circumstances… The ending has found some critics, but I liked it, and it leaves plenty to discuss!

I have no idea how Stu Turton will ever top this astonishing debut, but I shall be eagerly anticipating his next book (while telling everyone I meet to read this).

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‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’,
Stuart Turton,
2018, Raven Books, hardcover
Many thanks to the author, Stuart Turton, for providing me with a copy of this book as a prize for a competition on Twitter. This has not affected my honest opinion of what is, quite simply, an amazingly fabulous book.