The 7 1/2 Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I have 3 things to say about this book –

  1. Started off so well I thought it was gonna top Agatha Christie
  2. Clearly I was wrong
  3. Dafaq did I just read. And WHY

Now, I get the appeal of this book – it’s complex and brilliantly woven. But the editors could have had mercy and cut down even about a 100 pages for the rest of us who awaited with bated breath on who the heck killed Evelyn Hardcastle.

This book has way too many characters and takes a while to grow on you. But after 30%, I was completely on board this plan. Aiden Bishop stuck in a time loop in the bodies of various hosts who killed an heiress called Evelyn Hardcastle. There’s one too many secrets here, too many revelations to keep a tab on. But one after the other, each host is interesting to understand – until it gets too much and there’s too many people and too many motives to keep a track of.

I like closed-door murder mysteries as much as any reader out there, but Stuart Turton, the genius that he is to have even come up with something so bizarre and crazy, may have faltered by the end. I don’t know why but I expected more. Was it the build up? Was it the sheer ambience created to creep the reader out? Was it the characters that were (too) well fleshed out to have raised the expectation of the reader a dozen notched before the book even reached 50%?

So many questions, so many plot twists, until they get to a point where you wonder ‘does this book even end?’

My problem with this book remains its length at first, and then the end. I really felt there would be more in this ‘time-loop’ prison theory. I do like the idea, but the execution suffered a major whiplash post the middle of the book. A man has 8 days to figure out the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, trying to sift through various bodies of the hosts – who are guests at this high-society party. But then turns out Evelyn is, NOT Evelyn. The Blackheath house is not a house, and Anna is not Anna. And there’s a pile of bodies rising in number one after another. This is a page turner but in no way a cosy armchair read. I had anxiety by the time I finished it.

It remains engaging nonetheless, but I had to really drag myself across the latter half cuz DNFing this would mean more anxiety for me. I still have Stuart Turton’s The Devil and The Dark Water – A juicy, chonky physical copy to finish. I truly hope it’s better than this. Not that the 7 deaths is a bad book, mind you – just that I went in with way too many expecations with the kind of hype that surrounded it. The book has its lovers – but I will always remain on the fence about this one.

One time read for sure, but read it if you like murder mysteries, time loop suspenses bordering on paranormal or simply if you like Agatha Christie – but mind you, it’s may not be the classic you’re going to hope for it to be.

Rating – 3/5

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