The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a cozy mystery with a very interesting premise: it is a mashup of Groundhog Day and Agatha Christie’s novels. As a reader, we’re presented with the familiar setup of a large English manor house full of interesting characters—each hiding their own secrets and agenda—and a murder to solve. What makes the novel unique is its interesting time loop mechanics: The day will repeat itself until the main character can solve the murder. In essence, the main character is trapped in this mystery, not allowed to leave this fateful day unless he can find out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle.
It is a masterful book, and I can only imagine how much like the authors wall would look like one of those walls full of papers, photos, and connecting strings we often see on conspiracy theory character representations on TV. It is a very intricate time loop, Stuart Turton writes his story with extreme care for details and to make sure the time loop works. It is delightful to experience all of it, it is much better for us than it is for Aiden (the MC) who is at the same time an unwilling detective, but also a victim of sorts.
This book won many awards including being selected as a book of the year by the Guardian, not a small feat considering it is a debut novel. I just wish I could write as well as Stuart for my debut novel. I think he did a great job and am already looking forward to reading his other works.
If I have a single criticism about this book is that I think it starts a bit slow. It takes a while for the story to jump from it’s Agatha Christie mold into it’s Groundhog Day tropes. I wish this happened a bit faster, but let’s be honest and assume that I enjoyed it anyway.
I recommend this book for every one who enjoys a good old murder mystery. Those among us who are a bit bored of the usual tropes in these books will be pleasantly surprised for this book packs a lot of cool story beats and tropes that we don’t usually read on the ordinary cozies. I don’t want to spoil your reading experience by revealing them, just let me say that the book is more than simply Agatha Christie + Groundhog Day, there is more to it and I think you’ll enjoy it.