Monday, 3 February 2020

Six Stories (Six Stories #1) - Matt Wesolowski


One body
Six stories
Which one is true?

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.


What did I think?

What an absolutely awesome book!  I actually read this a few months ago but felt so completely breathless, speechless and overawed that I couldn't write my review straight away.  Yes, it really is THAT good.  In fact the book is so good that I have bought it twice; firstly on ebook (just so I had a copy of the book that everyone was raving about) and then I bought a special signed edition because I prefer the feel of a physical book in my hand.

I did listen to a few episodes of the podcast Serial, which this book is based on, but I have to admit that I lost interest quickly, which is the complete opposite to Six Stories.  Again, possibly due to the fact that I connect more with words on paper.  I loved the highly original form the book takes, being that of transcripts of a podcast by Scott King.  Scott discusses the mysterious and unexplained death of 15 year old Tom Jeffries which happened 20 years ago and interviews six people over six episodes of his podcast.  As each person tells their side of the story, I found myself wondering who to believe and really enjoyed sifting through the evidence.

Tragedy strikes at the Scarclaw Fell Woodlands Centre when a group of teenage 'Rangers' visit there; with heightened teenage emotions and scaring each other with local legends, it's Tom who ends up as collateral damage.  Scott King interviews some of the people who were there, but just how reliable are, not just their memories but, they themselves?  Weaving in the chilling local legends of Nanna Wrack and The Beast of Belkeld, you would be forgiven for thinking that something supernatural was at play.  Perhaps there was?  It certainly sounds plausible or is it just a handy scapegoat?

Not only is there an intriguing mystery to solve in a very fresh and original format, but some of the prose used by Matt Wesolowski is simply breathtaking.  There is a sentence where he describes frost which I have to share as it is so stunning:
"Frost freezes on the edges of the leaves, the trees glisten in the moonlight, and their branches caress the frozen earth like the withered fingers of some long-dead corpse."
Wow!  Just wow!  It gives me goosebumps just reading it again, as if I was lying on the frosty ground myself.  Matt's words are both beautiful and chilling; completely spellbinding and spine-tingling.

At the time of writing, there are now 4 instalments of Six Stories (yay!) and I'm excited to discover what Scott King will investigate next.  Six Stories is an outstanding crime debut from local Newcastle author, Matt Wesolowski; it's fresh, original, creepy, mysterious and completely addictive.  I think it's perhaps the most original and unusual book I have ever read.  An absolute must-read and highly recommended.  Well worth every single one of the five stars I have awarded it.

My rating:


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