Publication: 8th February 2018 from Raven Books
‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…
I loved this book, and my goodness it does set your mind whirring.
If this book were a song, what song would it be? Undoubtedly it would have to be Windmills of your Mind because the lyrics describe this book perfectly.
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel
This book is like a traditional Agatha Christie grand house murder mystery on acid and it is brilliant.
Aiden Bishop is our protagonist, condemned to repeat the same day over and over until he can present the solution to the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Not only must he repeat the same day, but he does so in a time hopping fashion, moving in and out of the bodies of eight hosts, taking on their physical characteristics and knowing what they know, all the while battling to keep his own sanity and identity, though in truth, who Aiden Bishop is becomes the last mystery to be solved.
He has no idea who to trust; no concept of who to believe in (if anyone) and he has to find a way to deal with the shady characters to seem to be shaping this mystery journey.
This is a highly original and inventive book with a puzzle centre that would defy the most assiduous jigsaw player. The clues are all there in each character, but the body jumping and time hopping adds an extra layer of complexity.
Brilliantly plotted and with fantastic characterisation, this book will sweep you up and carry you along as it explores the mystery of what happens to Evelyn Hardcastle and why. Nothing is obvious; clues are dropped like breadcrumbs and just when Bishop thinks he is getting somewhere, his character will slip into another body.
Blackheath, the house where all the action takes place is a rotting, crumbling mansion where some effort has been made to restore a long since faded grandeur. All the guests are as you might expect, some shady, some disreputable, but all hiding their own secrets, as are some of the servants.
In a masterclass of plotting finesse, Turton cleverly weaves all these strands together, gradually revealing each secret until finally the breadcrumbs join together to make a summer pudding.
Though complex and layered, this is a fabulous and highly engrossing book that is so well written you delight when Bishop manages to make something significant happen and just wish you had thought of the idea.
Because the characterisation is so rich and nuanced, you never lose track of what’s happening, though I think it would be great fun to go back and do a map of the house and track all the events and characters to see just how well plotted it is on paper.( I’m pretty sure the answer is awesomely).
I thought the ending was slightly rushed, but that’s saying something for a book that takes a lot of reading.
Overall, I am full of praise for a massively creative, inventive, original and enjoyable novel. It is just incredible to learn that this is a debut novel.
Also, because I covet one of these myself, have a look at the gorgeous edition from Goldsboro Books which is lush and comes signed by the author in a limited edition – plus if you order before Feb 8th you will be in with a chance of winning a glorious murder mystery prize.
About Stuart Turton
Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who has previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel. He is the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. He lives in West London with his wife.
You can follow Stuart on @Stu_Turton