A fabulous, unique mystery

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Staurt Turton delights again with a creative who-dun-it thriller, this time set against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic Earth all but decimated by a terrifying biological contaminant. The last of humanity resides on an island in the Mediterranean home to a small village, an AI, a locked laboratory, and three mysterious "Elders" from Earth before its fall. When the peaceful community is rocked by a murder, the village must band together to solve crime before the biological contaminant overtakes the island and wipes out what remains.

Turton is incredibly talented at taking common sci-fi tropes and putting them to inventive use: Groundhog Day took on a whole new meaning in The 7/12 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and the amnesia trope takes center stage in Last Murder. It's hard to review the plot without getting into spoilers, but suffice to say it kept me guessing right up until the final page. There are seemingly infinite layers to Turton's mystery, with each revelation leading to a list of new questions and loose ends which Turton manages to guide to a satisfying and unexpected conclusion.

My only caveat is the weakness of the characters, none of whom stand out as unique or memorable. It feels like Turton took cookie-cutter versions of classic murder mystery characters (The Detective, the Red Herring Villain, The Kindly Elder, the Precocious Child etc) and wove them into the narrative with minimal personalization. Despite this, he does succeed at crafting a tender tale of family, love, and loss, as several generations of the villagers must dig up old secrets and put to bed old grudges in order to save the island and themselves.