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Book Review//The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton


There will be a murder at the ball unless Aiden Bishop can solve the crime and stop the killer. It sounds like a basic mystery, doesn't it? You have your usual British mystery collection of a country estate, quirky characters, servants, balls, shooting expeditions, and fraught relationships.  Then you realize that the crime occurs over and over and the day repeats time after time and Aiden has eight days and eight bodies to inhabit in order to solve the crime. This is not your usual British mystery.

That is all I am going to say about the plot because the less you know the more you will enjoy this book. It is really best read in massive gulps over a short period of time. It is a bit confusing at first as Aiden jumps from person to person and you, and he, try to figure out what is going on. If you read it slowly it would be easy to lose track of what each person knows and has done. 

Since the story jumps from character to character you do not become attached to anyone in particular. This is a plot-driven, more than character-driven, book. That is necessary for the story but it does leave the reader a bit disengaged. Now that it has been a few weeks since I finished reading it the characters have all blended together a bit in my head. But while you are reading it you completely invested. 

The ending felt a bit forced to me but I find that to be typical of books like this that sweep you along to an unknown conclusion. There is such a big build-up to the reveal that it can be hard to make that reveal completely live up to expectations. The book also leaves a lot of questions about the world Aiden lives in. I wouldn't mind another book that focused on the greater world or the world after the mystery is solved. It is hard to explain what I want without giving away too much of the plot but I wanted to know more about the society and Aiden in the future. 

This was a fun and engrossing read. I don't think it is a book I will read over and over but it is a book that kept me up at night because I just had to know what happened next. 

A copy was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.

Books Lately

I have a number of books I owe reviews for because I received them from the publisher through NetGalley. However, writing reviews is not my favorite thing to do on this blog. I like to buy books, photograph books, lust over books, and read books, but straight-up reviews don't happen often enough. This post is an attempt to catch up a bit. I have every intention of doing better in the future but we will see how that goes. I enjoyed all of these books and think you would too.

I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land* by Connie Willis.  This novella tells the story of Jim, a blogger who has just appeared on a radio show where he insists that the demise of the physical books is necessary and acceptable. He then wanders through New York in the rain and stumbles upon a bookstore that isn't quite what it seems. When he goes through a door in the back he stumbles upon a storage warehouse for books. But what books are these? They are books that are lost forever in fires, floods, library cullings, and other unfortunate events. This is definitely a novella with a message. I enjoyed it but it was not Connie Willis at her finest. For that read To Say Nothing of the Dog or Domesday Book. 

Scarweather* by Anthony Rollins. In 1913 John and his cousin, Eric, visit a famous, and eccentric,  archeologist and his wife at their house on the English coast. Eric falls in love with the archeologist's wife. Eventually, John gets a message that Eric is missing, presumed drowned. The book then skips ahead about 15 years when John decides to look into his cousin's death a bit further. Frankly, I don't know why it took him so long since I could see the resolution a mile off. This was well-written and enjoyable even if very predictable.

Continental Crimes* is a British Library Crime Classics collection of short stories. I am not always a fan of short stories that are mysteries. They frequently feel a bit rushed. I did enjoy these. They are all set, in whole or in part, on the continent. I particularly remember A Bracelet at Bruges by Arnold Bennett. A woman is showing off her new bracelet while standing by a canal. It somehow gets dropped in and is gone forever--supposedly. There is also a story by Agatha Christie, one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and G.K. Chesterton, among others. As with any short story collection, some are better than others.

Death Makes a Prophet* by John Bude. This is another British Library Crime Classic. The Children of Osiris is a new religion led by its mild-mannered prophet and financed by a very opinionated woman. The first half of the book does a lot of scene-setting and I almost forgot I was reading a mystery as I got caught up in the eccentricities and relationships of the characters. Then the murder-suicide occurred. Superintendent Meredith arrives and has no trouble putting all the pieces together.

I enjoy reading the British Library Crime Classics. It is wonderful to see so many of the Golden Age of detective fiction being reprinted. Of course, some are stronger books than others but, so far, I have enjoyed them all. I do have mixed feelings about receiving them through NetGalley since they only provide an e-book. The covers are so beautiful that I feel like I am missing out by not having a physical copy.

I recently reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This is probably the five millionth time I have read it and I loved it just as much as the last time. If you haven't read the coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan in the Brooklyn of the early 1900s then do so now. It is a wonderful depiction of a time and a place but also of an imaginative, realistic child. Here is one quote for you.

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day wen she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived. 

What have you been reading lately?

*Received from the publisher through NetGalley.

Wandering Through Old Sturbridge Village

Covered Bridge-Old Sturbridge Village

Dusty roads, New England clapboard houses, covered bridges, sheep and pigs and oxen, cookies, candy and pictures of the past. I have written before about my love for Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. You can see those posts here and here. However many times I visit I am always happy to go again. My brother texted me last week and asked if I wanted to meet him and his family for an afternoon of wandering and chatting. I promptly canceled all my plans and took an afternoon off.

Bixby House--Old Sturbridge Village

Bixby house--Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village

I didn't actually take that many photos because I was busy talking to my sister-in-law and because my nephew, like most children his age, does not stay in one place for too long. The nice thing about visiting a place I have gone to so many times is that it doesn't matter if I miss things. I will always go again; probably soon because Celia was distinctly irritated that I went while she was in school. We wanted to go all summer but the summer has been so ridiculously hot that I could never muster up the enthusiasm necessary for wandering around in the heat and humidity. This day, however, was the one day of reasonable temperatures for the whole week--or maybe the whole summer.

Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village

I don't see a lot of my brother and his family, we live just too far apart to make getting together easy, so it was nice to spend a quiet afternoon together. Somehow, walking into Sturbridge Village, where life was slower and quieter, forces me to take a deep breath and relax. For a few brief hours, nothing mattered except following a child as he ran from place to place and chatting together. Life should be like that more often.

Old Sturbridge Village

Salem Towne House--Old Sturbridge Village

Is there a place full of memories for you that you return to again and again?