Stuart Turton's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Review: If Agatha Christie had seen Inception.
Published by Raven (Bloomsbury)
Recommended: You like classic crime but look for something different and original from the usual "locked room" crime.
Not recommended: If you are a classic crime purist and the idea of reading it mixed with another genre makes you shiver.
There are many ways to define this book: "if Agatha Christie had seen Inception or Black Mirror" or "Cluedo meets" The Bone Clock" ". But none of these descriptions give it justice.
This beautiful book with its Art Deco cover and more than 500 pages come from Raven, a newish branch of the Bloomsbury publishing house that specializes in crime fiction. If you are a classic crime purist then this book is not for you. But if you're like me, always looking for something new and you don't mind a good genre mashup, then keep reading.
With temporal loops, body swaps and a psychopathic killer behind our investigator on duty, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a must-read for mystery lovers.
PLOT ( from Amazon)
'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.'
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...
The book starts in the woods where the narrator wakes up tired and exhausted, wearing a dinner jacket and ... someone else's body. He has no memory of who he is or why he is trapped in this stranger, all he knows is that he has a compass and he has to go east.
A figure disguised as a plague doctor informs him that a murder will be committed, a murder that will not seem so and that he has eight possibilities to solve it. Our detective, later named Aiden Bishop, will live again the same day eight times but every morning he will wake up in another "guest". He will remember his experiences from previous guests, but if he does not give the name of the murderer to the deadline he will be brought back to day one with the memory erased and will have to start all over again. As he already did, hundreds, maybe thousands of times.
This brief summary cannot do justice to the dizzying complexity of the plot told in 500 pages and saturated with twists, where Turton is not limited to telling a chronicle of history from different points of view but allows us to relive them for 8 times. This novel is a mixture of genres: crime, science fiction, drama, adventure, mystery, thriller and, of course, crime with the addition of an untrained investigator.
Keeping up with our investigator's findings will not be easy, The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle needs total attention to catalog information, names and dates. It is not a book that can be laid and resumed after a while. Reading it you will experience the discomfort of our investigator and his confusion upon waking up every morning in a different body and you will see him surrender to the game of his captors and start investigating by exploiting the unique personalities and positions of his "guests" to find the murderer.
Solving a murder that has not yet been accomplished does not fall within the canons we are used to in the traditional yellow novel. The ingenious use of the time jump with the investigative plot certainly requires a suspension of reality on the part of the reader who is not perceived as forced but causes the loss of contact with the public who finds himself following the story as a spectator, running around with a notepad in hand. A negative characteristic? Not necessarily.
The ending bombards you with a series of revelations of the last minute that if you have paid attention and collected all the clues, you will be able to connect to the rest. The Seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a brilliant and Machiavellian, innovative and hypnotic puzzle. An absolute must for mystery lovers.