Stuart Turton had an ambition of writing an Agatha Christie type murder mystery and his book The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was the culmination of that objective. With echoes of Peril at End House, Agatha Christie fans will be treated to the neglected manor house, packed with dead bodies and suspects, all confined to an isolated mansion, and murderous motives aplenty.
The plot is very difficult to summarise, but as a partial attempt, a man starts on an eight-day mission to solve a murder. Each day he awakens in a different body, to re-live the same day over again. He can only break this loop and leave Blackheath House if he can determine and prove who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle. What he discovers is that there are two other people trying to solve the murder, which hasn’t yet happened, but they have only one body to play Groundhog Day with. Only the first person to discover the murderer will be released. The main protagonist has help from the Plague Doctor, named as such because he wears a plague mask but is hunted by the murderous Footman. There are loads of rules to the body jumping and competition to be released. The real perplexing part is who the feck is controlling all this and how. A point, which now I’m finished, I still can’t figure out. My head hurts!!!
The suspense and danger are well done and that’s the saving grace and the reason it wasn’t abandoned. A story full of betrayal, fear, violence, murder, despair, mystery, confusion, friendship, caring and a good old investigation with a major dose of the supernatural. Everything gets thrown at this story. Not to forget that there is Lady and Lord Hardcastle, a disjoint family, blackmail, crazy servants, drug dealers and oh yeah the rabbits.
I think half a death was added as the book crossed the Atlantic but then maybe there were only five deaths or was it eleven. Anyhoo. The craic with Ceecee was great as we read this together, only she was preoccupied with rabbits and I thought the dead child done it all. Or maybe the rabbit killed everyone. A strange novel that just may appeal to other readers, and I can see why, but I’m afraid not for me.