Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

Crime Fiction
4*s

I finished this book having realised fairly early on that I had approached what I was about to read from totally the wrong angle. This is one fiendish puzzle with complexities that are beyond devilish.

The premise of the book is seemingly one of a Golden Age mystery where our chief protagonist has to solve the puzzle of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. He has eight days to do so. So far so simple the clock is ticking and the clues are presented and you put them together and try to get there before he does. Oh, you are sadly mistaken if you think that is all there is to it!

The problem is far more complex in that our man inhabits different characters for each of these eight days and the same day keeps repeating. So he starts of as a doctor and he sees some stuff going on from that character’s perspective but when he wakes up again he is someone totally different and finds some new clues but also sees different aspects to the stuff he learnt the day before. All the while he is trying to keep hold of his true self whilst inhabiting what are mostly a disagreeable bunch of people.

Thrown into the mix is a nineteen year old mystery, linked to the return of Evelyn Hardcastle from her stay in Paris. There are also plenty of other dastardly goings on from blackmail to murder all to be kept on top of. Allies are formed but whether they are wise ones or not remain to be seen.

So it’s complex and ideally, to have any hope of keeping track of what’s going on, I would have needed an entire wall of notes to keep track of various characters and their actions because sometimes the chief protagonist jumps back in time. This means that character is for example unhappily at midday on day four or rather in his fourth host, anticipating where they need to go next to find a missing piece of the puzzle and then it’s back to the second host to pick up where he last left off. To be fair the author gives the reader pointers and reminders but it is a book to throw yourself into and hope that you can keep manage to hold enough information in your head to keep pace.

Now I’ve reached the end I’d ideally go back and savour just how clever the whole book is, but if I’m honest my brain hurts from the effort. Which has left me with a problem on how to rate the book. I really admired both the premise and the execution (of the book not Evelyn Hardcastle) and I did nearly work out one strand of the mystery proving that I wasn’t completely confused by it all, but I’m not used to a book being such hard work. Ideally this would have been better as a holiday read, it’s not a book to escape a hard day’s work with, it is a fiendish puzzle that won’t let you go! If all that isn’t enough this tale told in the first person present tense, which is entirely fitting, also poses philosophical questions which soon become apparent. Now I have the answer to the mystery I can ponder those at my leisure.

I take my hat off to Stuart Turton for the most original read I have read for a long time.

I’d like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing plc for the chance to read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle prior to publication on 8 February 2018. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 8 February 2018
Publisher: Raven
No of Pages: 528
Genre: Crime Fiction 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Author:

A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

45 thoughts on “The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

  1. Great review. I have been so tempted by this book and requested it ages ago on NetGalley but still haven’t heard back. I really love how unusual the premise is but it does sound like so much jumping around could be confusing (and if you’re struggling I don’t fancy my chances). Maybe I’ll wait till I have a lot of free time and a big notepad 😀

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    1. I’m really glad I read it but I just wish I’d been a little better prepared and timed my reading for when I could devote myself to the book – as it happened I was very busy at work at the time I was reading this which was far from ideal.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great review, really helpful – I’ve ordered a copy of this book from Goldsboro Books, but I think based on what you have said I will put off reading it until I have time to read, such as on holiday. Thanks

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  3. Hmm…This does sound like quite a mental workout, Cleo. At the same time, it sounds unusual and intriguing, and I give authors credit for trying new things. Not sure about this one, but I did very much enjoy your excellent review.

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  4. I think this sounds wonderful. I love a good mental puzzle. It’s an interesting thing – I have an advance copy of this book, but have not read it yet. The title in your part of the world is ‘The Seven Deaths…’ and in my part of the world, ‘The 7-1/2 Deaths…’. Curious, right? Can you think of a reason for the name change – without spoilers of course. I look forward to reading this. I may have to do it soon.

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  5. So I’ve read a few reviews on this book, but none have been as clear as yours so thank you! I dislike books that make my brain hurt that much, so I think this one is a pass for me…

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  6. Great review Cleo! I’ve actually set this one aside for a bit as I was actually getting quite irritated with it! The novelty of the morphing from one body to another quickly wore off, and I find the language a little simplistic. I will return to it just to see whodunit, but the jury’s out on what my final conclusion will be….

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  7. Great review Cleo! I have to say I’m intrigued 🤔 I like a bit of a challenge but not too much hard work! If I’m in the right mood though I can totally see myself loving this.

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  8. Some excellent books require a huge amount of work to read. Your review reminds me of when I read Atlas Shrugged – that one took me 2 months to read and I had to take “a wall of notes” to keep track of everything. Great review!

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