A mind-bending wonder somewhere between an episode of Black Mirror and a classic Poirot mystery. 4/5.
Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will be published on 8th February.
The blurb: How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?
At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem…
This book has a great premise and puts an original spin on the classic country house murder mystery. The layers in the story make it incredibly complex and I take my hat off to the author. I can’t imagine the diagrams necessary to keep track of where all the characters are supposed to be at various times as the narrator body-hops between different “hosts”, bumping into friends and enemies along the way. In addition to the murder mystery we have the mystery of Aiden himself: who is he and why is he being forced to relive the same day, searching desperately for Evelyn Hardcastle’s killer?
At even its most superficial level, this is an entertaining mystery which forces you to pay attention at all times, meaning it never gets dull. However, the book’s most impressive strength – its complexity – may also be something which turns readers off. I didn’t find this a “fun” read. It’s not relaxing in any way and the characters are intriguing rather than likeable. Currently I’m rather sleep-deprived and I’m not sure enough of my little grey cells are firing to get the most out of this book at the moment. If you don’t want to read for a mental work-out and think the many jumps in the narrative might lose you, I’m not sure I’d recommend this book.
It’s the sort of story you’d love to have time to go back and read again once you know the solution to the mystery and who all the people the narrator has embodied during the day are. I can only imagine an agent somewhere is already trying to get this under Christopher Nolan’s nose as he’s the only director I think could pull off a movie adaptation.
I enjoyed the murder mystery side of the story more than the moral philosophy element (attempting to answer the question of whether people can ever really change), and I thought the ending was a little too neat, but I’m still bowled over by the staggeringly impressive structure. If I think about it all too much, I think I’ll get a headache!
Overall: classic murder mystery fans who think they’ve seen it all should give The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle a try. Just don’t pick this as a relaxing read – you’ll need your wits about you to keep up.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul