Stuart Turton takes the model of an Agatha Christie country house murder mystery and adds metaphysical, mind-bending elements.
A group of wealthy aristocrats arrive at a family estate to celebrate the birthday of Evelyn Hardcastle. As is common in these stories, Evelyn is expected to marry a boorish but rich baronet to save the family from financial ruin. The only trouble is, at the end of the night someone is going to kill Evelyn. With multiple suspects on a large estate, it is setting up to be a closed circle mystery.
The story becomes unnerving when the reader learns that the narrator isn’t quite himself. His consciousness has been placed in a body not his own and he had been dropped in the midst of the birthday weekend. A figure wearing a plague mask explains that his task is to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle using each host body to get closer to the truth. Yep, at the end of each day, he will wake up in another guest and relive the day again — from another perspective.
The invitation is addressed to Doctor Sebastian Bell, a name it takes me a few moments to recognize as my own. My Samaritan mentioned it earlier, but seeing it written down, along with my professions, is an altogether unsettling affair. I don’t feel like a Sebastian, let alone a doctor. ~Loc. 273
The novel is strange but engaging. I read it over an extended period of time, which I don’t recommend. There are so many details (like the chess piece-inspired character names) and moving parts it would be best to clear your reading schedule and focus on this one to fully grasp it. It is complicated, but it follows its own rules and has a satisfying ending.
Read via NetGalley. Thank you to Sourcebooks for the e-version.
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (September 18, 2018)