OPN The last murder

Stuart Turton, celebrated for his innovative storytelling in The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and The Devil and the Dark Water, presents another compelling narrative in The Last Murder at the End of the World.

This novel is a brilliant fusion of post-apocalyptic science fiction and intricate murder mystery, offering a fresh take on both genres.

In Turton’s latest work, the world beyond the island has succumbed to a lethal fog that annihilates all life it touches. The island remains a safe haven for 122 villagers and three scientists. These islanders lead idyllic lives, dedicated to fishing, farming, and adhering to a strict curfew, under the guidance of the scientists who ensure their safety.

The peace is abruptly shattered when one of the scientists is found brutally murdered. This horrific act triggers a catastrophic chain of events: the island’s security system, which keeps the deadly fog at bay, begins to fail. The villagers are given a grim deadline — solve the murder within 107 hours, or face total annihilation as the fog envelops their sanctuary.

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Uncovering the truth

Adding to the tension, the island’s security system has erased everyone’s memories of the night of the murder. This twist not only complicates the investigation but also means the murderer could be any one of them, oblivious to their own guilt. The islanders must navigate their fractured memories to uncover the truth.

Turton skilfully merges post-apocalyptic elements with a classic murder mystery, creating a narrative where both genres enhance each other. The dystopian setting is integral to the story, amplifying the stakes and urgency of the mystery. The integration of these elements showcases Turton’s ability to innovate within genre conventions.

The novel’s science fiction aspects are particularly thought-provoking. Turton introduces advanced technologies such as AI integrated into human consciousness and memory-storing gems.

These concepts are not merely decorative but play a crucial role in the plot, adding layers of complexity and engaging the reader’s imagination.

A sophisticated whodunit

At its core, The Last Murder at the End of the World is a sophisticated whodunit. The memory loss mechanism presents a unique challenge, both for the characters and the readers, who must piece together the fragmented clues. The 107-hour deadline injects relentless suspense, making every twist and turn more impactful.

Stuart Turton has once again demonstrated his prowess in crafting an intellectually stimulating and deeply engaging narrative.

The Last Murder at the End of the World is not just a novel but an experience, blending high-concept science fiction with the intrigue of a murder mystery.

This book is a must-read for fans of either genre, promising a story that is as thought-provoking as it is thrilling.

Ahmad Nazir is a UAE based freelance writer