The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (2018) – Stuart Turton

An Agatha Christie story with some Ground Hog Day/Quantum Leap thrown in for good measure? When I read the blurb on The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle I was immediately intrigued. Turton’s execution of the story is whipsmart and incredibly enjoyable, combining classic English mystery with some time loops. What’s not to love?

Sebastian Bell awakes to find himself confronting great danger, and in a remote estate known as Blackheath he’s going to find more than he expected as he is forced to repeat the day over and over in order to discover the truth about who killed Evelyn Hardcastle.

He is given a single day repeated through with different hosts, and he has to put the clues together, to come up with an answer. But it’s not going to be easy, there is more than one danger lurking around the grounds, a lurking presence wearing a plague mask who hints at darker things going on not only in Blackheath, but in our hero.

And perhaps there is more than one murderer stalking the halls as his previous hosts meet violent ends at the hands of someone known only as the Footman.

The mystery narrative of the story is a lot of fun, the framing of it, with the awakening in the hosts suggests something more is going on, and I had that part of the story figured out long before the narrative caught up with me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great ride.

The story moves back and forth from host to host when sleep takes one of them, but they repeat the same day over and over, and consequently, we experience it in different ways each time, catching more and more clues, and knitting them all together into a discovery that horrifies our hero.

Turton doles out a completely engaging story with a number of mysterious elements popping up to keep the reader guessing about what is going on, who is responsible, and why Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered.

It’s a fast-moving tale with so many things going on. Not just the mystery of who killed Kardcastle, but also all of the other things happening with the day repeating over and over, and learning why it is happening, and what the Plague Doctor is really doing.

To say anything more would be to give too much of the story’s twists and turns away, and it’s just a joy seeing the way it plays out. Like I said the discovery of what is really happening wasn’t a surprise, I had this thought by the second repeat that I knew what it was. It didn’t detract from the way the story played out in the slightest.

Especially knowing the Footman is out there somewhere, hunting our hero down.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a great read for lovers of murder mysteries who want a little extra fun thrown at their little grey cells. Check it out!

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