I received The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in exchange for an honest review
Warning: this book may cause anti-social behaviour! This trippy blend of classic mystery and time-travel left my head reeling, and is one of the few novels I’ve read recently which is truly worthy of the label ‘unputdownable’.
The unusual combination of Golden Age mystery, reminiscent of Agatha Christie at her best, and new age, Groundhog Day-esque time travel which reminded me of a couple of my favourite movies, Memento and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, makes this book something really special. There’s layers within layers and a complex cast of characters which are difficult to keep up with at times, but persevere and the author will give you a satisfying ending which makes all the layers of mystery and the twists and turns worthwhile.
We first meet our protagonist as Doctor Sebatsian Bell. He’s attending a party at a grand manor in the heart of the old English countryside, but he has no idea how he got there or who he is. All he can remember when he wakes is a name; Anna. Pieces of the puzzle are gradually revealed to Bell, until we get to the real twist. He’s actually Aiden Bishop, doomed to wake as eight different visitors to the ball until he solves the mystery of the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, for whom the ball is being thrown for. He gets to live the day leading up to her death through the eyes of eight different guest, and on the eighth day he must have the answer to the mystery, otherwise he is doomed to start all over again.
Already confused? This is just the basic premise to a trippy, bizarre story which only gets weirder and more complex, and kept me guessing until the last few pages. The feat this author has undertaken is truly staggering, creating an entire cast of characters and their intermingling lives, and the meticulous detail which has gone into the time-hopping structure littered with clues and red herrings scattered along the way is eye-watering to think about. This book was completely different to anything else I’ve read this year, and I loved it.