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Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

By Jessica Asbell

“Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00pm. There are eight days and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.” Stuart Turton’s The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle begins with Aiden Bishop in someone else’s body, with the name “Anna” on his lips. He sees a woman running, hears her scream and a gunshot, and is passed by the killer, who drops something into his coat pocket and whispers, “east.”

As Sebastian Bell tries to make his way to get help, he discovers once he arrives at Blackheath that all is not as it seems. The Hardcastles are having a party, a dreadful one to remember the anniversary of their son’s murder. Everyone who is at this party was at their house long ago when it happened. Confused, Sebastian tries to figure out what happened to him, as he also tries to convince everyone that a murder has occurred. Along the way, he meets the players in this twisted game. And day after day, he wakes up as someone else, racing against time to discover who murders Evelyn Hardcastle each night. As he relives the same day through different hosts, he slowly changes the game, setting things into motion with one host, so that another host has the information they need when they need it.

Turton’s inventive book is filled with twists and turns. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will make you examine the things you think you know, people’s motives, and the balance between grace and punishment. If you are searching for a mystery that is utterly different, pick up this book. Good luck in your quest to discover who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle. It may be more difficult than you think!