London, January 2019
A genre bending novel best though of as a cross between an Agatha Christie novel and that Jake Gyllenhal film, Source Code. Aiden Bishop, is tasked to solve the murder of the eponymous Evelyn Hardcastle, with seven opportunities to explore the incident through seven different sets of eyes.
He wakes in the woods and screams ‘Anna’ with no idea who she is, who he is, or why he’s in the woods. Terrified and bewildered, he makes his way to Blackheath, a run-down estate on the edge of the woods filled with locals who are staying to witness the attempted social comeback of the Hardcastles who went into social hiding following the death of one of their sons.
Aiden is visited by a man in a plague doctor’s mask, who explains the rules. To escape Blackheath, Aiden must bring the name of Evelyn’s killer. Aiden knows only that there are two others with the same task – Anna, and another like him, who will switch bodies through the course of the week.
With each sleep, Aiden wakes in a different body; one is callous, another hungover, analytical, cowardly. All are needed to solve the murder, without which Aiden will never escape Blackheath.
I really enjoyed this. I was initially a bit impatient as I didn’t like who I thought was the main character (body #1). I didn’t know about the body-hopping concept until it happened in the novel so was relieved when the day re-started with a different brain.
The plot is pretty complex but doesn’t slow down or become incomprehensible. The build-up to the end has the right amount of tension – quite a feat considering how anti-climatic it could have been.
There’s a note from the author at the end of my copy in which he discusses the visual charts and outlines created to engineer and keep this plot propelling. I’d imagine the walls were smothered – with so many possible changes in behaviour I read an interesting article in January about how this book could translate really well to a game.
Amazingly, all the loose ends are tied up. The issue of what Blackheath is and why Aiden and the others are there is brought to a really satisfying conclusion.
It’s a multilayered and deeply intelligent book – highly recommended!