Book Title: Six Stories
Author: Matt Wesolowski
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Date Read: 03/24/17
Pub Date (Orenda Paperback): 06/01/17
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. 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 rivaled 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. 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.
This was a little bitty book that packed a mighty wallop. WOW. I just keep saying that over and over. While I was initially drawn in by the cover, and we all know Chelsea is a sucker for pretty pictures, the inside is what sealed the deal. I’ve never been a huge listener of pod casts, not because I find them boring or unappealing, but due to the fact I usually can’t squeeze in the extra time and find a quiet place to do so. This gave me the best of both worlds; I was able to read a book per my usual routine while gaining the satisfaction of “listening” to a pod cast. It was brilliant. Utterly genius. I hate to hype this up too much, as I know when people do this to me it ends up making said book underwhelming in comparison, but this one was just SO good people.
This was part murder mystery, part character study, with just a tinge of horror which topped off a near perfect read, in my opinion. The idea was so unique and appealing; I feel as though I’ve started to grow stagnant in my mystery/thriller reads as there isn’t much being published that I haven’t read in some form before. Six Stories immediately tingled my spidey senses and I just knew it would end up being something special, mainly because it had the Orenda stamp of approval. By the way, I read somewhere the author wrote how grateful he was to Karen for giving him a chance when others wouldn’t. I bet those ignorant turd munchers are kicking themselves in the face for missing out on what has turned out to be a buzz-worthy, highly anticipated read by many.
Ok, here’s a secret; sometimes I get bored in novels that feature heavy characterization because I need all of the things to be happening for my easily distracted mind to stay focused. It’s likely why I gravitate toward thrillers filled with suspense and YA novels of fantasy and adventure. My reading is typically an escape for me; I need something to take me away from kid’s doctor and therapy appointments. All that to say, while this is heavy on the characterization, it is anything but boring. I am shocked at how full bodied and easily connected we are to the character’s story when the book is only 225 pages long. I’m convinced that the format of “episodes” and current day scenes are what give this a special touch. It was a daring risk on the author’s part, yet he pulled it off flawlessly. The thing that set this apart for me as a 5 star read was the fact that the author blurred the lines of reality and the paranormal; while reading the book you are wondering who really killed Tom Jeffries. Was it one of the fellow campers the night he disappeared? Was it one of the cultural legendary boogeymen? You’ll have to read it to know more, but suffice it to say we receive full closure by the final page.
Before I sign out, I just wanted to touch on the issue of bullying and how it was portrayed in the book. I’m pleased the author not only included such a relative and timely problem, but didn’t shy away from showing it’s horror and unpleasantness to the full. I’m always appreciative of diverse characters being added into a book, and I felt the character portrayed with Autism was well done with respect and honor. Having a child with Autism, I could easily recognize the signs and symptoms, and I felt each scene with a realness others who don’t experience that lifestyle on a daily basis might not catch as sensitively.
I’m not sure what else to say, other than READ THE BOOK! What do you have to lose? It’s a teeny little thing, but I’m confident you’ll be thinking about it long after you’ve closed the last page and moved on to the next. Highly recommended for those who enjoy crime fiction with a noir feel!
*Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to participate in the Blog Tour and share my review!
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.