Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense.
For fans of Claire North, and Kate Atkinson, The Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.
Mystery | Thriller
Fatphobia, murder, suicide, discussions around rape and sexual abuse, substance abuse.
A man wakes up alone in a damp forest. He is being chased and doesn’t remember who he is, only one name reverberates through his mind: Anna.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will throw you in a claustrophobic loop and keep you guessing from the very first paragraph.
It happens that the protagonist is Aiden Bishop a man who is bound to Blackheath – a decaying manor where a crime was committed. Every night at precisely 11 pm Evelyn Hardcastle dies by the pool and Aiden must discover who the murderer is.
The twist is that he must repeat this same day for seven days until he finds out whodunit, but waking up in different bodies every single time.
These are called “hosts” – Aiden inhabits seven different men who can provide distinguished points of view to what actually happened around the mansion before Evelyn was killed.
But, Aiden is not alone. Other “players” are also involved in this time loop and only one can escape.
Stuart Turton brings readers to this suffocating adventure, with a dark and damp setting and many twists and turns along the way.
The complicated plot can feel convoluted at times with a Plague Doctor, a deranged footman, dead rabbits, and many red herrings. But it thrives in its structure, the way Turton connects the many “lives” of Aiden, present, and future is brilliant.
However, after so many carefully crafted details, the ending feels rushed. Robbing the reader from a concrete explanation for the mystery surrounding Blackheath itself. Which is extremely frustrating after such a stifling narrative.
I also have to mention that there’s a portion of this book that is incredibly fatphobic. It’s very disconcerting to read how Turton decided to describe this particular host, so it’s important to be aware if this is a trigger warning for you.
☆☆☆.☆ (3.75 Stars)
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Book Club Questions (Spoilers below):
- Who was your favourite host out of the bunch?
- Do you think Blackheath as a punishment fit the crime?
- Why do you think the last order of hosts was important?
- What did you think about the setting and aesthetic?
- Do you think rehabilitation is possible? Was Blackheath as a much as a rehabilitation for Aiden as it was for Anna?
- Why do you think they allowed Aiden to enter the loop in the first place?
- Did you believe Oliver’s (The Plague Doctor) intentions?
- Did you guess that Daniel Coleridge was lying about being one of Aiden’s hosts?
- Why do you think the metaphor with the chess pieces and rabbits were important?