Reading, review

Those 7 1/2 Deaths

I have a confession to make.

I’m usually not a fan of books that other people love. It’s not surprising, really. I’ve always tended to do my own thing, and I know that just because a book is a “bestseller,” it doesn’t mean the status is justifiable. To quote Iago, “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving.” This seems to go double for many books on the bestseller list. (I’m looking at you 50 Shades.)

Frequently, I’ve wanted very much to love a book everyone else was reading, to be a part of the cool kids, and I’ve been disappointed. So imagine how thrilled I am that a book has lived up to its hype, especially since it was all I had to read on a 3 hour flight.

Stuart Turton did not let me down with his tale of a time looping, body jumping sleuth trying desperately to figure out just who kills Evelyn Hardcastle at 11:00pm before he runs out of “hosts” and has to start all over again.

I might be late to the party, but at least I got there.

The premise sucked me in. The writing kept me there. The story itself is good, but much like a hundred other cosy mysteries set in a brooding British countryside estate with a large cast of disreputable characters, what makes it so remarkable with how deftly Turton handles the deep–very deep–first person point of view for each of Aiden’s hosts. The reader is barely ahead of the narrator, sharing his confusion and triumphs by turns.

As a writer, I admire Turton’s ability to reveal character through thoughts and actions. The dialogue never rambles and is often humorous, relieving the oppressive atmosphere. At first, I was put off by the frenetic whinging of Sebastian Bell (Aiden’s first host), but I soon realized that was the point: Sebastian is a skittish nightmare of a person, and I was relieved when we shifted to the butler…at least for a few pages.

Turton also somehow manages to keep the reader from being confused as we jump from person to person and from one time to another. If you want to see a marvel of plotting, this novel is for you.

This is a great story from first to last, and the twist at the end is pitch perfect.

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