Publication date: 1st October 2018 (Paperback)
Publisher: Raven Books (Bloomsbury)
Genre(s): Fiction – Mystery/Thriller
My rating: 4/5
About the book
Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed … Again
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…
I was sold on this book from the moment I saw the cover. It’s a thing of beauty, featuring a stately staircase, chequerboard floor and deep red walls. The fore edge of my copy is deep red too. Red: the colour of blood, passion and rage. The perfect colour for this lavish murder mystery with a killer twist.
What really sold me, though, was the premise: Aiden, the protagonist, is caught in a loop, waking each day as another guest at a crumbling country pile, his aim to uncover the killer before the eponymous Evelyn is shot dead during an evening ball. Set in the roaring twenties, the historic setting of this novel was another key selling point for me.
There’s little I didn’t love about this book. The characters were varied, the setting atmospheric, the plot tightly woven and forming a satisfying conclusion. It was pacy and gripping throughout – this is not one of those books that suffers a mid-point slump. The author skilfully gives up morsels of information at just the right points in the story, tying threads together and revealing little mysteries within the mystery itself. It dawned on me whilst reading that though Stu Turton’s voice is very different, something about this book put me in mind of Kate Morton’s novels; perhaps the slow reveal of long-kept family secrets and how they’ve affected the lives of those they’ve touched.
I have to admit to becoming a little confused at points due to the sheer quantity of characters. It’s a fantastic cast, but with time hopping about, I think the similar-sounding names of some characters put me in a bit of a muddle. We have Davies, Derby and Dance, Coleridge and Cunningham… But it didn’t detract from the story itself; I embraced the confusion and just about got all of the characters straight in my mind by the end of the novel.
One point on pacing is that I think it would’ve been interesting to see Aiden learn more of Anna’s story earlier in the novel, to see how that might’ve played out.
I can’t wait to see what Stu Turton writes next; he is a master plotter, and the quality of the writing in this novel is very accomplished. This book definitely brought to mind Agatha Christie’s novels; it’s a fantastic, unusual and memorable addition to the murder mystery genre. I’ve given it 4/5 stars.
Thanks for reading!