CBR12 BINGO: Cannonballer Says
I decided to read The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle for the “Cannonballer Says” BINGO square after reading Narfna’s review. Or rather, I should say, after skimming Narfna’s review, because as soon as I saw the basic premise and the spoiler alerts, I averted my eyes and decided to go no-contact on any reviews until after I had read it. I’m glad I did; yet here I am with the impossible task of describing a book I really enjoyed without giving anything away.
If you haven’t read it, I advise you to follow my lead and save the reviews until later, although I’m going to do my best to tell you nothing. I even advise you to not read the dust jacket, as it tips you off to a twist that occurs within the first 60 pages.
I’ve seen this novel described as Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day, which is an accurate enough description to pique a potential reader’s interest while not nearly encapsulating the experience. If you like country house mysteries with modern twists, then this novel will undoubtedly entertain you. On page 1, Dr. Sebastian Bell is standing in a forest on the Blackheath Estate shouting the name “Anna.” He doesn’t remember who Anna is, why he is shouting her name, or even any details of his own life. He sees a woman being chased through the forest, followed by a scream and a gunshot, and he proceeds to desperately rouse the other guests on the estate to help find her.
The cast of characters includes those you would expect to populate at a 1920s Christie-esque mystery: the dowager and her profligate son; the physician-in-residence; the loyal lady’s maid; the banker; the policeman engaged to a young lady of higher social status; the estranged heiress; the mysterious hosts who are notably absent through much of the story. The genius of this novel is that it takes the familiar tropes of the mystery novel, adds a time-bending twist, and then layers it with contemporary themes. At the end, the reader is dropped off light years (figuratively) from where the novel began.
Turton has fun playing with time, and it would take a detective to plot all the comings and goings of each of the characters to ensure that no continuity errors occurred. I admit there was at least one point where the story felt a bit less Groundhog Day and a bit more Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but mostly I was willing to just go with this.
Highly recommend for fans of the mystery genre. And that’s all I’m gonna say.