Book Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

What’s it about?

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

To a background chorus of fireworks, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But she will not die just once. Until Aiden Bishop solves her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the same fateful conclusion. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And he’s not the only one trying to get out…

My thoughts

What a story. I’d heard all the buzz around this story, and reckoned it was probably going to be my thing (I actually picked it as one of my Påskekrim reads). It’s along the lines of Gosford Park meets Doctor Who, but that doesn’t really do it justice.

The narration style is really interesting. The narrator bounces from body to body, but has to content with his hosts’ individual personalities jostling for space. It’s skilfully done, balancing a single narrator with multiple co-hosts (for want of a better word). I don’t think I’ve read anything like it, nothing memorable any way.

The story is excellent: a conventional country house whodunnit with a soupçon of time travel. I really enjoyed how well it was plotted and how neatly it all resolved. It was twisty, turny, and at times quite eerie. I particularly enjoyed the instability of trust within the novel, how fragile allegiances rise and fall, and how Bishop can barely trust himself, let alone anyone else. All good thrillers should have similar mixes of doubt and faith but few do it as well as this one.

I also think it’s one of those rare creatures, a crime novel that bears re-reading. I’m still thinking about the resolution, and how I definitely didn’t see it coming. But I also think this is because it’s more than a crime novel; it’s got sci-fi and human drama too. There are bits that I want to revisit and see if they fitted just how I thought they did. I’m trying very hard to avoid spoilers here- can you tell?

I’m looking forward to seeing what Stuart Turton does next. I’m also braced for the raft of pale imitations that will undoubtably follow- Girl on the Train, anyone?- but they can be most likely navigated with ease.

Would I recommend it? 

Oh yes, for sure. Read it now. Or wait for the paperback, I don’t mind.

The Seven Death of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton is published by Raven Books priced £14.99. The paperback is out on October 4th and will cost £8.99.

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