The Lost Plot – Genevieve Cogman

In a 1930s-esque Chicago, Prohibition is in force, fedoras, flapper dresses and tommy guns are in fashion, and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon vs dragon contest. It seems a young librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him there could be serious political repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai find themselves trapped in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail and fiendish security systems. And if this doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences for Irene’s job. And, incidentally, for her life . . .

Welcome back, Irene and Kai. Another adventure awaits!

I’m a huge fan of this series – The Lost Plot marks book 4 and another splendid outing for Librarian spy Irene Winters and her assistant Kai. This time the plucky duo finds themselves trying to foil a plot to retrieve a book (of course), but also to keep the Library out of inter-dragon politics. The setting is 1930s Chicago and New York, with all the attendant trappings – tommy guns, wiseguys, speakeasy bars. Hijinks ensue, of course.

The adventure is brisk, the writing just plain glorious fun, and the worldbuilding as enormously inventive as ever. I could read about the adventures of Irene and Kai all day long, and am deeply fascinated by The Library itself – I do hope that we get to see a little more of it in future books!

I loved the setting of the story – Prohibition-era America is a fascinating place (and we all know how much I love a sense of place). Dragon politics is equally fascinating, and it forms the central driver to the story. Two dragons chasing one book to gain favour at court. Fabulous stuff.

If you’ve not read the Invisible Library books, then you *could* start here, but I’d highly recommend starting your adventures with book 1 instead.

Huge thanks to Genevieve Cogman for the copy of her book. You can find her on twitter @GenevieveCogman. The Lost Plot is published by Pan Macmillan and is out now. Buy a copy on Amazon

Dark Pines – Will Dean

Published by Point Blank, January 2018
Source: Review copy
It’s week one of the elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. Two hunters are found murdered in the forest, with their eyes missing. When Tuva Moodyson, a young deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, investigates the story that could make her career, she stumbles on a web of secrets. Are the murders connected to the unsolved Medusa killings twenty years ago? Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the
next victim? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the murderer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

First book of the year, devoured over the course of a weekend, Dark Pines takes us deep into the immense forest of Utgard where a young reporter investigates the death of a hunter. Could it be connected to the infamous ‘Medusa murders’ of twenty years ago?

Regular readers will be aware that I love a book which has a real sense of place, and Dark Pines is just such a book. The pines of Utgard are superbly creepy, with a tangible sense of menace made all the scarier by its inhabitants. They’re a wonderfully odd bunch – the ghostwriter with a fascination for Tuva Moodyson’s deafness, the slightly (very) odd twins and their wooden trolls. The story follows Tuva as she investigates first one murder, and then another, drawing her deep into the forest. It’s not just the forest though – Gavrik is one of those small town, tightly-knit communities where everyone knows everyone else, but everyone seems to have a secret. Can Tuva get to the bottom of the killings?

Tuva Moodyson is an interesting character – her deafness plays a key part in the story, but never feels forced or gimmicky for the sake of plot. She has a rugged determination in pursuit of the story which will give her a future outside Gavrik – I really liked her, and hope we get to see more of her investigations in the future. She’s just one of a set of great characters though, and the plot is artfully crafted, with the suspense ratcheting up notch by notch. Tuva’s fear of the forest is tangible – forests can be creepy at the best of times, but imagine a forest where you are unable to hear anything, knowing that there is someone out there with a rifle who could very well be taking aim right now.

Dark Pines is a splendid Noir, beautifully written and unsettling. Will Dean has come up with a brilliant character in Tuva Moodyson, and I’d love to see her again.

Highly recommended.

Dark Pines is published by @PtBlankBks and is out now. You can find Will Dean on twitter @Willrdean

Hydra – Matt Wesolowski

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a

Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories was one of my books of 2017. In Hydra, we meet Scott King once more, and another of his Six Stories podcasts.

Hydra is a different beast to the first Six Stories. It’s darker and much, much spookier. If Nana Wrack gave you nightmares the first time round, the black-eyed children in Hydra might just keep you awake all night.

I love the concept behind Hydra and Six Stories – you get a look at the events of that fateful night through a series of perspectives, each one shedding a new light on what you’ve seen (or think you’ve seen before). There’s always a concern that with such a strong debut with such an original concept that the second time round it might feel less fresh, but Matt has pulled off another magic trick, deftly showing you just what he wants you to see, exactly when he wants you to see it. Hydra may follow the same structure as Six Stories, but is utterly original and astonishingly good.

I’ve recommended the original Six Stories to pretty much everyone since reading it. Save me the trouble and just go read Hydra now. It’s a finely crafted mystery with more than a hint of the supernatural oozing through the pages, with an entirely satisfying denouement which will make you want to read it again immediately.

I said last year that Six Stories would be on my Books of the Year list, and it was. I’m confident that Hydra will do the same for 2018’s list.

Hydra is published by Orenda Books and is out now in ebook, and in paperback January 15th.

You can find Matt Wesolowski on Twitter @concretekraken. Huge kudos to Mark Swan (@Kidethic) for another stunning cover.

Many thanks to @OrendaBooks and @AnneCater for organising the blog tour and inviting me along.

Books of 2017: Fantasy, scifi and all the other stuff part 2

Ah, dear reader. We’ve come to the final chapter. Who will turn out to be the murderer?

Wait, wait, wrong post. That was the best crime books of 2017 post. This is the other stuff. You know, with spaceships, dystopia, zombies and swords. The good stuff.

Without further ado, I hereby present my top five fantasy, scifi and all that other stuff of the year.

(Yes, yes. there *are* 8 books on the list. Well, nine if you count 5(a) and 5(b) as two separate books. Which technically they are, but they’re part of one story and the list was long enough already so I’ve given them joint fifth place. Look, it’s *my* list. You go and do your list and make it a ‘top five’ or a ‘top 10’ and be all pedantic and ‘ooh look at me with the correct number of books’. Send me a link when you’re done.)

8. The Collapsing Empire – John Scalzi

Fast-paced, with funny dialogue which fizzes with snark and a glorious cast of characters. We’ve got grand Houses battling for influence with the Emperox, wormholes, sarcastic space captains, pirates, dukes and a glorious cast of minor players in the empire-spanning game of power.

Favourite character is hard to pick – there’s the deliciously foul-mouthed Kiva, daughter of the House of Lagos, unafraid to speak her mind (and she does get most of the best lines). Cardenia, newly-annointed Emperox Grayland II, ruler of, well pretty much everything, and not entirely thrilled about it. The rival Houses, with their Machiavellian schemes to gain or influence power reminded me of Frank Herbert’s Dune (though slightly more foul-mouthed).

The plot veritably bounds along from planet to planet (or slightly more accurately, from planet to Hub) as we follow our heroes (if you can call anyone here a hero) on an exhilarating, rip-roaring galaxy-spanning adventure.

7. The Feed, by Nick Clark Windo

I do love a good dystopia (spoiler: there’s another one further down the list) and The Feed is just that. Splendid concept, beautifully and horrifyingly realised. Imagine having Twitter/Facebook/everything implanted in your head where every fact is mere nanoseconds away, where books are obsolete and society is addicted the ever-present rush of knowledge and has been for years. Now, imagine what happens when the Feed goes down. Superb. The opening chapters are a horrifyingly credible view of a future not too far away.

6, The Burning Page, by Genevieve Cogman (Pan, December 2016)

Book #3 in The Invisible Library series, following on from The Masked City (a book of the year for 2015), we follow the adventures of Librarian spy Irene and her dragon assistant Kai as they try to save themselves and The Library from destruction at the hands of arch nemesis (and deliciously evil) Alberich. Glorious fun, superbly inventive. It’s got books, dragons and librarian spies. Just go and read it. Probably start with book #1 though. Genevieve’s latest book, The Lost Plot is out now!

5(a). The Girl With All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

5(b). The Boy on the Bridge, by M.R. Carey

A double-header for book 5. The Girl With All The Gifts is a disturbing dystopian thriller which is a fresh take on a well-trodden genre staple.

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

. It’s the characters which make this book so special. Melanie is wonderfully drawn and we see the crumbling world through her eyes. The ending is spectacular.

The Boy on The Bridge then, is another story in the same world. I was blown away by TGWATG and approached this second book with no small amount of trepidation. How do you follow a book like that? Mike Carey knocks it out of the park. The Boy on the Bridge is instantly recognisable, yet very different. It’s one of those books that you just inhale in a single sitting, then fall back and marvel at what you’ve just read. The Girl was good, the Boy was astonishing, and together they make one hell of a team.

4. Defender, by GX Todd

Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where something… unusual has happened, Defender tells the story of a young girl called Lacey and a drifter, Pilgrim. The world has changed – the biggest threat to mankind is from the voices that have started appearing – voices which tell people to do bad, bad things. Suicide, murder or a descent into madness – you don’t get to choose, the voices do…

Defender is part thriller, part horror, with a dash of sci-fi. It’s startlingly original, blackly comic, bleakly desolate, with an utterly fantastic cast of characters, and a setting which just oozes menace. It’s dark and brutal, and definitely not for the faint-hearted, but if you give it a chance, it’ll grab you by the hand and take you on a dust-soaked ride across the wilderness to some places you’ll not soon forget.

Phew. Top three territory now (and I’ve checked, and yes there *are* only three). Super tough to choose between them, but the ‘Top X’ format demand that I do just that.

In third place, we have Kings of the Wyld, by Nicholas Eames

I have a tiny confession to make. The book turned up and, dear reader, I judged it by its cover. More specifically, I judged it by its title, the ‘Wyld’ made me think of the terrible fantasy epics of my youth and Wyld Stallyns from Bill & Ted.

Oh how wrong I was. How very, very wrong. Kings of the Wyld is, quite simply enormous fun. Clay Cooper, determinedly helmetless member of the Watch, returns home to find his old mate Gabe with one last job: Let’s get the band back together and go on a quest to find his daughter on the other side of the world. It’s only a thousand miles through a monster-infested forest. Should be no problem.

What follows is a splendid rollercoaster of the most rollicking kind, with a grand smörgåsbord of beasts and monsters, evil villians, ex-girlfriends, former managers, relentless bounty hunters and what will soon become your favourite wizard since Gandalf (or Rincewind, depending on your literary tastes), Moog.

Kings of the Wyld has a simply delicious premise – what if the bands of adventures were treated as rockstars, with bookers sorting out gigs to clear out a horde of goblins, or dealing with an infestation of kobolds? Clay’s band really do get back together (one even wields an axe) and go on one final world tour with the action cranked firmly up to 11.

It’s an epic quest which simply rattles along, putting our ageing heroes with their sore backs and gammy knees through trials and tribulations one after the other until the grand finale. Superb entertainment.

In second place (but again, the top three might as well have gone in a hat) we have Age of Assassins, by RJ Barker

A refreshingly different hero, in a splendid coming-of-age tale of assassins set to track down another assassin, with a dash of intrigue, magic, skulduggery and shenanigans aplenty. If I’ve met you over the course of the last six months, I’ve probably suggested that you go read this book. It’s one of *those* books.

It’s got everything. Great characters, and more to the point interesting characters doing interesting things that actually make you care about them, a tightly-crafted plot (involving the aforementioned skulduggery) and some quite gloriously gritty worldbuilding. Oh, and footnotes. RJ appears to love footnotes almost as much as I do. It was refreshing to see a disabled hero (if you can call Girton a hero) where his disability wasn’t just a plot twist, or something which needed to be there in order for the story to be. Much like Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road, just another person in a story. Utterly brilliant. And RJ is a thoroughly nice chap too, with only a *tiny* obsession with antlers.

And so we come to number one. Though as I said earlier (assuming you were paying attention and not just scrolling down to see which book I liked best), the top three are a tightly-knit bunch.

At #1, we have Godsgrave, by Jay Kristoff

The sequel to the much-loved Nevernight (book #3 in last year’s list), Godsgrave took everything which was awesome about the world (which was pretty much everything) and cranked the volume over as far as it would go, and then some. Mia sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally kill Scaeva and Duomo (who killed her father), who will be making a rare public appearance at the games in Godsgrave. Think Gladiator, but with more stabbystabstab and assassins.

I was super lucky to score an advance copy in August, at which point all other books were unceremoniously pushed to one side as I lost myself in the world of stabby assassins, twisted plots and intrugue. Oh, and death, blood, murder, revenge. You know, all the good stuff. Nevernight was (and indeed is) one of my all-time favourite books. Jay has a love of footnotes which ranks alongside mine and RJ’s, and I adore him for it. Godsgrave is staggeringly good. I cannot wait to see where Jay takes us in book 3.

So, dear reader. Thanks for sticking with me. Those were my books of 2017. I know there’s a couple of weeks left to go, but I’m guessing nothing’s going to shift Godsgrave off the top spot…

What have been your books of the year? Have you read any of the books on my list? I’d love to hear what you think!

Books of 2017: Fantasy, scifi and all that other stuff part 1

Hello, lovely readers. I hope that you enjoyed my lists of top crime books (part 1: the honourable mentions, and part 2: the top five(ish). However, I know that not everyone loves crime books, and whilst I do, I also enjoy reading sci-fi and fantasy and dystopia and YA and other stuff.

So, here goes. Part 1, again with the honourable mentions. Cracking books! In no particular order…

Killing Gravity – Corey J. White (Tor, May 2017)

Killing Gravity is a kick-ass, whip-smart sci-fi short story/novella/novellette(?) which is a pure joy to read. It’s short, sharp and stunningly bloody, with a fiercely independent, void-damned spacewitch as the main protagonist. Echoes of Firefly abound, with a close-knit (albeit smaller) crew on a series of adventures as Mariam ‘Mars’ Xi goes on the hunt for vengeance. For such a short book, a *lot* gets crammed into the narrative.
The cast is refreshingly diverse and *interesting*, and it features what Warren Ellis described as ‘a cute space ferret of death’. Only tiny criticism would be that it was too short! The story, not the cute space ferret of death.

Strange Practice- Vivian Shaw (Orbit Books, July 2017)

Meet Dr Greta Helsing, medic to the… differently alive residents of London. She looks after the capital’s supernatural inhabitants, be they vampire or vampyre (and yes, there is a difference!), ghoul, mummy or demon. The trouble is, someone is going around killing people. And that simply will not do. Dr Helsing (her family dropped the ‘van’ many years ago) must join forces with some of her patients to sort it all out.

A splendid adventure, and the underlying mystery is nicely twisty, and Dr Helsing has a splendidly quirky coterie of undead friends to aid her on her quest and in her rather peculiar practice.

Jade City – Fonda Lee (Orbit Books, November 2017)

Described as “a cross between Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Godfather with magic and kung fu”, Jade City is all that and more. The magic system is both delightfully simple (jade gives its owner magical powers – the more jade the stronger the powers) and wonderfully complex. The worldbuilding is top-notch – it feels like a mishmash of a variety of different places – Hong Kong spring to mind, but with other far eastern islands layered on top, creating a unique, new-yet-familiar setting.

Similarly, the characters draw on the familiar – Yakuza, the Triads, and yes, The Godfather, but with its own unique polish. The level of detail in the world presented is fantastic – from the food, religion, clan power structures to the cars and weaponry – moon blades, and talon knives, jade giving the wearer powers, but too much in the wrong hands bringing the dreaded (and deadly) itches. The powers that Jade confers, giving us some splendid kung fu sequences. It’s all too easy to see how Jade City would rock on the big screen.

Blackwing, by Ed McDonald (Gollancz, July 2017)

I heard Ed speak at GollanczFest in November, talking about swords and fantasy and stuff (notably bringing a landmine to a fantasy weapon-off against a dragon, a spaceship, Abhorsen’s bells and, amusingly, a comedy boxing glove filled with a horseshoe. One of those times where you *really* had to be there). I picked up Blackwing soon afterwards and cor, what a book. Brutal, dark, and bloody, it’s the story of one man’s battle to escape his destiny. It’s dark and it’s funny in places, and has some of the most imaginative, terrifying monsters you’ll ever come across. Hugely recommended.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope, by Claire North (Orbit, May 2016)

A globe-trotting jewel thief who no-one can remember. An app which promises perfection. A truly fascinating protagonist. The Sudden Appearance of Hope is a remarkable book, with a unique voice. What would you do if no-one could remember you? How would you cope? Relationships are out, and you’d struggle to get medical treatment. Every time someone met you, it’d be the first time, kind of a never-ending groundhog day.

Hope is a curious and wonderful character who is remarkable for being unremarkable, and the author really gets under Hope’s skin, with all her worries and fears and the spectrum of grey morality that Hope inhabits. The fight against Prometheus, the makers of the Perfection app, plays out this moral ambiguity beautifully – are they really the bad guys, wanting to help people become perfect? What lines will Hope cross to bring them down? Stunningly good.

Phew. My five honourable mentions. Each highly recommended, and I hope you do find something there which piques your fancy. Do let me know if you do spot something you like, or if you’ve read any of them.

Part 2 will be along soon with my top sci-fi and fantasy books of 2017. What will make the cut? Who will take the coveted #1 spot?

Books of 2017: Criminally good books, part 2

We’ve seen the honorable mentions for my best crime books of 2017. They were (and indeed are) all great books. But, dear reader, there have been some which have blown my socks off.

Without further ado, here are the creme de la creme, my top five crime books of 2017.

5. The Dry, by Jane Harper

The first book I read in 2017, The Dry is a gritty, superbly atmospheric crime noir where the heat and tension in the small tight-knit community practically ooze off the page and the pages demand to be turned. Jane Harper weaves a net of intrigue packed with twists and turns, secrets and lies more than the odd red herring along the way. There’s a deft sleight of hand going on as the plot unfolds leaving you thinking that you’ve finally figured it out, only for the cards to be turned over one by one and, of course, the lady has vanished.

I said at the time I would be surprised if The Dry didn’t grace my books of the year list, and so here it is.

4. Six Stories, by Matt Wesolowski

Back in March I went along to the Orenda Roadshow at Waterstones in Leeds, and amongst the considerable writing talent on display was a lad from Newcastle telling a story about a murder. As you’ve no doubt guessed (you clever so-and-so), that lad was Matt Wesolowski and he was reading from his debut novel, Six Stories.

Six Stories is unlike anything I’ve read before. Told in the form of six episodes of a Serial-style podcast, we delve into the mysterious events at Scarclaw Fell twenty years ago when a young boy goes missing and is ultimately found dead.

Each episode is an interview with one of the group of friends who were there that evening, and Matt deftly weaves an intricate, multi-layered plot, letting us in on one secret at a time. And there are so many secrets…

It’s an astonishingly confident and compelling novel, all the more impressive for being a debut. Matt manages to capture the distinct voices of the cast of characters perfectly, with all of their teenage angst and worries, the shifting group dynamics and emotions.

Six Stories is dark and disturbing in places, with an unsettling feeling of dread creeping up as you delve further into the story and the events on Scarclaw Fell.

Another one where I will called it – “Six Stories will be one of my books of 2017, and I would be very surprised if it’s not very near the top of the list.” It is indeed here, and very high on the list, for very good reasons.

3. The Man Who Died, by Antti Tuomainen

Next up is another Orenda author. Antti Tuomainen, King of Finnish Noir and owner of some quite splendid shirts. The Man Who Died is a departure from his usual Helsinki Noir, and is a sheer delight. Perhaps he has created a new genre, Mushroom Noir?

It’s delightfully different – here we have a man who knows that he’s been (or being) poisoned, and sets out to solve his own murder. The cast of suspects is fairly short, and Jaakko does like making lists. Could it be his wife? The strange characters at the shiny new mushroom processing plant in town? Or the Japanese clients?

Jaakko follows the trail around town as he investigates, coming across a whole bunch of fabulous characters who wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Fargo. The humour in The Man Who Died is layered and oh so very dark and exactly the way I like it. Superb.

2. Tall Oaks, by Chris Whitaker

Back in May I found myself with a copy of Tall Oaks on my kindle (blame falling firmly on the shoulders of @lizzy11268) I settled in for a story of a small town and a missing child, thinking that I’d read stories like this before.

How wrong I was. Tall Oaks is a beautifully wrought tale of small town America, shot through with a deft line in wit and with what were to become some of my favourite characters in a book, ever. Manny and Abe, I’m looking at you.

The characters in Tall Oaks all have their story to tell, and what stories they are. There’s a real depth to these people, quirks, secrets and lies playing out over the days and weeks following the disappearance of three year-old Harry.

The sense of small town America seeps through the pages of this book and I was surprised to find out that Chris Whitaker is, in fact, British – born in London and living in Hertfordshire and yet has captured the feel of the town so brilliantly. What’s even more astonishing is that this is a debut novel – the writing, plotting and characterisation are confident and accomplished.

Utterly brilliant.

I said at the time “if this is just the start of Chris’s writing career, I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.”

What Chris came up with next turned out to be my favourite crime book of the year. And, as we’ve seen, that’s a phenomenally strong field.

At number one, we therefore have All The Wicked Girls, by Chris Whitaker

How foolish I was. I thought Tall Oaks was good. How could he top that? The bar had been set pretty high.

All The Wicked Girls is so utterly brilliant, though in a different way to Tall Oaks. I’d struggle to pick one to recommend to you if pressed, and would probably insist that you just buy both and thank me (or rather thank Chris) later.

It’s deep and complex, harrowing and heartbreaking, a story of a young girl’s hunt for her missing sister in a small southern bible belt town. Chris Whitaker does small-town America really really well, and the town and townsfolk are pitch perfect. As with Tall Oaks, All The Wicked Girls is a character piece, and what characters they are – from the distraught parents to the fire & brimstone preachers, the harried cops and Raine’s unlikely partners, Noah and Purv.

Much like Manny and Abe from Tall Oaks, I loved the three kids, each with their own secrets, each trying to make it in their own version of the world.

All The Wicked Girls sits firmly alongside Tall Oaks in my books of the year. As I said earlier, don’t make me choose – buy both and settle down for some of the best storycrafting you’re likely to see for a long time.

Chris Whitaker can be found on twitter @whittyauthor. Go say hi. The go read his books.


Phew. So, there we have it. Get them on your christmas lists, boys and girls.

And I couldn’t resist a sneaky peek at 2018 – I thought long and hard about this and whether to include it on the list (and to be honest I partly left it out so I didn’t have to choose between this and All The Wicked Girls, if I’m honest!) Technically it’s not out until 2018 so I’ve dodged that bullet, but it’s bloody brilliant and you should definitely add this to your list.

The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is, to put it simply, one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s fabulously mind-twistingly clever, with a high-concept plot, a host of splendid, characters and a delightfully Christie-esque setting. It’s a book which demands that you pay attention, and rewards you handsomely for doing so. You know who dies from the title itself, but unlike your common or garden whodunnit, you follow the course of a day many times over, from different viewpoints as our protagonist tries to solve the question of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, and more importantly, why.

I’m in awe of the plotting at work here – multiple characters interwoven across a day and the rooms and grounds of Blackheath. It’s been compared to Agatha Christie meets Inception, but it’s so much more than that – throw in a dash of Quantum Leap, and a smidgeon of Cluedo, topped off with a light dusting of Groundhog Day. I can picture the author in a room with a large map and a ball of red string, laying out the timelines.

Look. It’s genius. Just go and order yourself a copy. The hardback comes with maps, and who doesn’t love a good map in a book? I’ve already got a copy on order so I can read it again and savour it. There’s not many books I get a chance to re-read, but I’m looking forward to re-reading this one again. And again. And again…

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is published in the UK by Raven Books in February 2018.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

35967101.jpg Published by Raven Books, February 2018
Source: NetGalley ARC
‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

A man awakes in a wood, with no memory of who he is or how he got there, and with only a single name on his lips. A figure is seen running, and soon after, a gunshot. What follows is a stately home murder mystery the like of which you’ve never seen before…

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is, to put it simply, one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s fabulously mind-twistingly clever, with a high-concept plot, a host of splendid, characters and a delightfully Christie-esque setting. It’s a book which demands that you pay attention, and rewards you handsomely for doing so. You know who dies from the title itself, but unlike your common or garden whodunnit, you follow the course of a day many times over, from different viewpoints as our protagonist tries to solve the question of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, and more importantly, why.

I’m in awe of the plotting at work here – multiple characters interwoven across a day and the rooms and grounds of Blackheath. It’s been compared to Agatha Christie meets Inception, but it’s so much more than that – throw in a dash of Quantum Leap, and a smidgeon of Cluedo, topped off with a light dusting of Groundhog Day. I can picture the author in a room with a large map and a ball of red string, laying out the timelines.

Look. It’s genius. Just go and order yourself a copy. The hardback comes with maps, and who doesn’t love a good map in a book? I’ve already got a copy on order so I can read it again and savour it. There’s not many books I get a chance to re-read, but I’m looking forward to re-reading this one again. And again. And again…

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is published in the UK by Raven Books in February 2018. Our US chums will have to wait until September 2018, unfortunately, but you get an extra half death, as over there it’s called The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Many thanks to Raven Books and NetGalley for the review copy. I’m hoping to have a Q&A with Stuart Turton closer to the publication date, so watch this space!

You can find Stuart on twitter @stu_turton