This is one of those books where you hit the ground running: you are thrown into the mystery of it from the outset and I have to say that I found it quite thrilling!
What an unusual book this was! Stuart Turton claims that Agatha Christie is the influencer for this particular piece of fiction and there are certainly shades of the great mystery writer’s style in this novel but this is a departure from anything that Christie could have envisioned writing herself. Maybe 21st century Christie could.
I am having to tread carefully in this review as the joy of this book is discovering what the heck is going on and so, with that in mind, I would advise that you don’t read the blurb: just plunge headlong into it and discover it for yourself. What I will tell you is that it is set in a rundown house called Blackheath where a party is being held to celebrate the birthday of Evelyn Hardcastle; however, Evelyn is destined to die the same day and our protagonist, the narrator of the story, must somehow find out who did it. He has no choice in this and he is not the only one charged with this task. It also transpires that there may be others trying to thwart him in his endeavours to find the truth. All of this mystery leads to a book that follows our lead character trying to find clues and evidence to help him reach the truth whilst not knowing who to trust and with the fear of being pursued the whole time.
I don’t think that I have ever read a book with such a complex plot with so many interlocking pieces that reveal themselves the further into the book you go – if you liked the evolution of Pulp Fiction, then you will love this as its convolutions and fragmentary reveals will have you guessing to the last. It had my head hurting at times as I tried to remember everything that had gone on before and the order…but I am saying too much.
Whilst the plot dominates in this book, I have to admire Turton’s language too as there were some phrases that struck me as beautifully written throughout. His language is figuratively vivid- “a muddy trail rotten with puddles”, for example – but accessible.
I will seek out more Turton: a great read.
Please note that this book is called The Seven and a Half Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle outside of Britain if you are searching for it on Amazon.