Years after a tragic accident that claimed the life of their youngest son, the Hardcastles are throwing an extravagant party that reunites all of the guest that were present that fateful day at Blackheath, decades ago. This party will end in another tragedy; the death of their only daughter, Evelyn. But Evelyn won’t die just once. She’ll keep dying, until Aiden, a guest of the Hardcastles, can figure out who kills her. Every day Aiden wakes up in another body, frantically battling the mind of his hosts in order to solve the mystery and escape the hold that Blackheath has over him. If he lives a full day in his eighth and final host without delivering the murderer, he’ll start all over again with no memory of what he’s discovered so far. That’s if he can make it that long. There’s others hunting the killer in Blackheath, and some of them will kill to make sure they escape first.
We are never more ourselves than when we think people aren’t watching.
Seven Deaths had been on my radar for a while, though admittedly because of the common mistake of getting it mixed up with another popular seven-somethings-of-Evelyn book. However, this book quickly proved itself to be a brilliantly inventive and mind-bending novel.
This time last year I attended a fantastic event at Bloomsbury, celebrating the legacy of the ultimate crime writer: Agatha Christie. Stuart Turton was a guest panellist, along with Andrew Wilson (author of A Talent for Murder) and Sarah Phelps (radio/TV/screen/play writer, who has adapted several of Christie’s books for television). The panel discussed what it was they loved about Christie’s writing, and how they tried to channel that in their own work. It was a fascinating evening, and I went home with a signed copy of Turton’s book.
Fast forward a year, and I finally got around to reading it. I was hooked instantly, but life got the better of me and I found myself going days without picking it up. With the menagerie of characters and the time loop trope, I was worried I was going to, quite literally, lose the plot with this book. In fact, Turton’s characters are so distinct and he writes so well that it was, not easy – it is a time loop with eight different hosts, after all – but certainly manageable to follow despite the complications of the story and my lack of devoted reading time.
I was so intrigued by the Plague Doctor, and Aiden and Anna’s origins. I couldn’t figure out why they were stuck in Blackheath, nor did I see coming the unravelling of the mystery of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. There were so many small story lines that all converged into one neat little package, which really impressed me. Turton definitely took all the things I love about Agatha Christie and made it into something completely new and unique. I can’t wait to see what he writes next.
Rating: 4 / 5 stars