Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 2018
Genre Mystery
Origin UK
Publisher Sourcebooks
ISBN-10 1492657964
My Copy library audiobook
First Read July 19, 2019

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

This is really an amazing, super clever puzzlebox murder mystery story. You wake up, you don't know who you are, you are in a decrepit manor house in a vaguely Downton Abbey setting, and you have to solve a murder to get out. You wake up again, and it's the same day, but you're in a different body.

This has all the pleasures of an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, AND a time travel story where your choices ripple out in unexpected directions. And really, it's a great premise that might get a bit thin, but the author keeps peeling back a layer and exposing that the gear mechanism you thought you were working with is a part of a larger mechanism.

It's also a kind of meta book: in the first section I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the story as being about the experiences of Author and Reader. That's clever and interesting, but could have worn thin for a long book, and it 100% did not.

And the writing itself is pretty good! It's well done, there were a pile of clever metaphors (probably too many), the characterization is solid (which is super important for the story mechanism at use here). That also could have been a big risk for the audiobook, but the reader totally pulls this off without resorting to silly voices.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and I was really surprised that despite the dry tone of the reader, this ended up as 17 hours of really compelling listening.

Noted on July 19, 2019

I don’t have time. The hunt begins in half an hour and I can’t miss it. I have too many questions and most of the answers will be carrying shotguns.

Quoted on July 19, 2019

The future isn’t a warning my friend, it’s a promise, and it won’t be broken by us. That’s the nature of the trap we’re caught in.

Quoted on July 19, 2019

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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