Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense.
For fans of Claire North, and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.
“Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day . . . quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, and altogether triumphant.” – A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
I’m not sure who A. J. Finn is but, but he’s absolutely correct. This book definitely blends together the precise whodunit of an Agatha Christie novel with the frustrated repetition of Groundhog Day. And their lovely little baby is an excellent read, no doubt about it!
This novel opens brilliantly with a very confusing in medias res introduction. Which, added with the confusion our poor protagonist has because he can’t remember anything about where he was or how he came to be there, gives this mystery an extra layer of depth. Not only are we attempting to uncover the murderer of Evelyn Hardcastle, but we’re attempting to uncover the mystery of Aiden too. Layers upon layers of mystery, wrapped up in one of the most atmospheric settings imaginable: a near-dilapidated mansion cut off from the outside world by thick forests and swirling fog.
Excuse me while I squeal delightedly in the corner.
For me, atmosphere is half the battle when you have a thriller/mystery combo on your hands. And this one delivers handily. The characters are entertaining, well-written, and complex (each one has their fair share of secrets and flaws) but the house–THE HOUSE–sets the scene perfectly with its fading glamour. This house was the equivalent of those past-prime prima donna characters–the ones pouring on makeup and jewels to hide the truth: that age and time effect everything. Still grasping to youth and beauty, still trying to look as it did fifty years ago, the owners of the house desperately clutch to the veneer of past splendor. Gah, it was so good! And then as Aiden went through his rigmarole of solving the murder, more and more of the house was explored. He went into rooms he hadn’t previously entered before in each iteration, and learned more of it’s history, pulling away the mask until he saw the truth of it exposed. To me, the house had the most character of all. And I appreciated that on a deep level.
I also loved the pacing. It kept me hooked from start to finish, granting small discoveries and answers while tacking on more and more until we reached the climax of the book and the whodunit reveal ensued. Those last few pages dropped bombshell after bombshell, which left me winded after I finished. But the best part was after I finished, I leafed through the pages to see the breadcrumbs Turton had left along the way. It delighted me to no end to find the little clues sprinkled throughout the narrative, pointing the way to the murderer and the truth.
This was an absolute gem of a book. Great pacing, excellent mysteries, and a phenomenal setting kept me riveted from start to finish. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an atmospheric mystery, complete with twists and turns that will leave you breathless long after the story’s finished. 5 out of 5 stars!