The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Review by Benjamin Thomas
Stuart Turton weaves a web of lies and deceit that ensnare the reader from page one. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle follows Aiden Bishop as he relives the same dark day at Blackheath manor, trying to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. The same murder that takes place at the same time every day. Until Bishop can identify Evelyn’s killer, he is doomed to repeat this day in a range of different hosts’ bodies, with other players working to beat him at this intricate, deadly game.
The novel hits the ground running, and the pacing never lets up, albeit swapping physical action for mental calculation. At times, Blackheath Manor feels like something that would trip up Sherlock had he been tasked with deducing what was really happening. And that’s one of the great feats Turton achieves: the reader is systematically trying to figure out who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle just as much as Aiden Bishop is.
While most novels bring the reader along for the ride, Turton’s work felt different. It felt like I wasn’t simply riding along and observing over the character’s shoulders, but I was there. Trying to find clues that Bishop missed and piece together the puzzle before the time runs out.
Turton’s cast of characters bring a colourful array to the novel, and while some might be less favourable than others, the work never seems to drag by spending too much time with one and not enough with another. Each person trapped in Blackheath Manor was an individual, and each one was just as suspicious as the next.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an amalgamation of time-travel, speculative mystery, Gothic noir, and Agatha Christie. Highly recommended for any reader that wants to lose themselves in a riveting mystery that will leave them guessing until the end.