To my parents, who gave me everything and asked for nothing. My sister, first and fiercest of my readers from the bumblebees onwards. And my wife, whose love, encouragement, and reminders to look up from my keyboard once in a while, made this book so much more than I thought it could be.
Seven Deaths wouldn’t exist without my agent, Harry Illingworth. He knew what this story could be before I did, and helped me dig it out. You’re a gent, Illington.
For her wisdom and word scalpel, I’d like to thank my editor Alison Hennessey, aka the Queen of Ravens, aka glamorous (paragraph) murderer. I wrote a story, Alison made it into a book.
I’m also indebted to Grace Menary-Winefield, my US editor, for asking the questions I never thought to ask, and helping me dig deeper into this world I’ve created.
And while I’m at it, I can’t neglect the rest of the teams at Raven Books and Sourcebooks, who put me to shame with their talent, enthusiasm and general loveliness. Of those, I’d particularly like to highlight Marigold Atkey, who weathered my panic – and last-minute edits – with good humour and wisdom. No doubt somebody, somewhere, heard her screaming, but it wasn’t me. And for that, I’m very grateful.
Special mention must go to my early readers David Bayon, Tim Danton and Nicole Kobie who read this story in its ‘David Lynch’ phase, and very kindly pointed out that clues, grammar and reminders of plot points aren’t a sign of weakness.
And, finally, to my wife, Maresa. If you’re going to do something stupid (like spend three years writing a time-travel, body-hopping, murder-mystery novel), you need your very best friend in your corner, all the way. She was, and is. I couldn’t have done it without her.
You are cordially invited to Blackheath House for
Introducing your hosts, the Hardcastle family
Lord Peter Hardcastle & Lady Helena Hardcastle
Their son, Michael Hardcastle
Their daughter, Evelyn Hardcastle
Edward Dance, Christopher Pettigrew & Philip Sutcliffe, family solicitors
Grace Davies & her brother, Donald Davies, socialites
Commander Clifford Herrington, naval officer (retired)
Millicent Derby & her son, Jonathan Derby, socialites
Daniel Coleridge, professional gambler
Lord Cecil Ravencourt, banker
Jim Rashton, police officer
Dr Richard (Dickie) Acker
Dr Sebastian Bell
-Principal household staff-
The butler, Roger Collins
The cook, Mrs Drudge
First maid, Lucy Harper
Stablemaster, Alf Miller
Artist in residence, Gregory Gold
Lord Ravencourt’s valet, Charles Cunningham
Evelyn Hardcastle’s lady’s maid, Madeline Aubert
We ask all guests to kindly refrain from discussing Thomas Hardcastle and Charlie Carver, as the tragic events surrounding them still grieve the family greatly