The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a delightfully muddy, time-twisty-turny breath of fresh air!
Sebastian Bell comes to himself in the woods, hearing his friend Anna call for help and hearing the gunshot that kills her. But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that he is not Sebastian Bell, Anna may or may not be his friend, and she isn’t the woman fated to die.
The description “Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day” is accurate to this story of Aiden Bishop, caught in a kind of limbo/purgatory/country-manor-locked-room-puzzle where, trapped in someone else’s body, he knows Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11 o’clock that night. If he fails to find the murderer, Evelyn will die and he will wake up tomorrow morning in the body of someone else, facing the same challenge as the game is reset and everything starts over again. He gets eight strikes and he’s out; if he fails to use the skills, mindsets, and resources of each of his eight hosts to save Evelyn, they will both be lost forever.
Grammar discussion time. One phrase used throughout this book is “I was intending on speaking with…” I realize that “intend on” (as opposed to “intend to”) has become a sort-of correct, somewhat-accepted colloquialism, but it sets my teeth on edge and grammar authorities contend that it is not correct. I’m surprised an editor let this pass. Your thoughts?
Beyond that very minor annoyance, the writing flows and is quite evocative at times–Turton can certainly turn a phrase. Being inside the minds of so many different personalities requires extraordinary character development, and Turton meets that challenge admirably. I commend the intricacy of the story and what a deftly woven, highly complex murder mystery this is. I hope he has more books in the works.
Bookshelves: locked-room-mystery, murder-mystery, time-twisty, brit-lit