Title – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author – Stuart Turton
Published – 2018
Genre – Crime fiction
This is one of those books that feels as if it’s had so much coverage that there is little point adding my own thoughts, but here I am anyway.
As well as receiving a lot of coverage on social media the book won the Best First Novel prize in the 2018 Costa Book Awards, Best Novel in the 2018 Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, it was shortlisted for a New Writers’ Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards, Debut of the Year at The British Book Awards, and longlisted for a New Blood Dagger and Gold Dagger at the CWA Awards. Despite all of this, and hearing the author speak at an event, it actually wasn’t what I expected when I started reading.
It’s certainly an unusual take on crime fiction, a genre that has its fair share of formulaic plots and tropes. It’s so unusual that it’s a struggle to sum it up; my description would be a cross between Groundhog Day and Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock films. I enjoyed the premise and the mystery that’s at the heart of the plot. The premise meant that there were multiple points of view from multiple characters, some more likeable than others. However this also meant that the author was striving to make them all seem different and I found some of them to be a little two dimensional.
The real problem for me, though, is that it was so intricately plotted with lots of back and forth between characters and times that I, literally, lost the plot. I couldn’t keep a grasp of who was doing what, where and when, all I could do was assume that the author had plotted the timelines out chronologically and knew where his characters where and what they were doing at any given time. It was this complexity that meant it wasn’t a winner for me – it was making me read too quickly and I was too confused to have my own take on what was happening – I was just swept along without feeling involved.
An unusual and perhaps challenging read – just not for me.