Writing Magazine

Mystery invention

How do you follow up one of the most fiendishly high-concept murder mystery novels ever written? If you are Stuart Turton, the author of prize-winning, bestselling, mindboggling debut The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, the answer is that you don’t repeat your formula. You go back to the drawing board and you come up with something that is just as dazzling and mindboggling… but in a completely different way.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was a homage to, and a twist on, an Agatha Christie murder mystery. A conventional Golden Age story it was not. Mashing up elements of film and video games into a country house murder mystery, it featured time loops, body swaps and a complex, inventive narrative that required readers to be glued to each passage on the lookout for clues. It won the Best First Novel prize at the 2018 Costa Book Awards and was a Sunday Times bestseller. The Devil and the Dark Water, Stuart’s new novel, is a jawdropping gothic murder mystery – a supernatural, seafaring story featuring a detective duo.

The Devil and the Dark Water began in absolute terror,’ confesses Stuart. ‘The Seven Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle has been a scary thing to follow up on. A lot of people wanted that again, a time loop murder mystery, and I wanted to do something entirely different – even if it was a murder mystery.’

“Each book should feel like a big swing. If I ever do write a novel that misses the mark, at least I can say, I did what I wanted to. I don’t want to go half-hearted into any idea. I

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