Six Stories – Matt Wesolowski
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 took 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. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.
My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.
Very, very occasionally something different crops up in my reading queue, a book which is quite unlike anything else that is clamouring to be read – Six Stories is that book. A murder story, told (in the main) as a series of podcast interviews where journalist Scott King chats with a key player in an unsolved murder case from an incident which took place in 1997.
A teenager, part of a group of kids visiting a remote “outward bound centre” vanishes in the night. His body turns up one year later but despite extensive police involvement and significant media interest no arrest was ever made and the crime remains unsolved.
Journalist King interviews other teens from the small group that visited the centre that fateful weekend. They were frequent guests on familiar territory and the “responsible adults” supervising them were quite lax in allowing these young adults scope to drink and smoke. Each of the titular “Stories” is an interview with one of the people who make up that group. As the stories are told we are given more insight into the dynamic of the kids, there are bullies and there are sheep. Some were friends, others were outcasts but each will contribute more to the bigger picture of what may have happened to Tom Jeffries.
It is frequently made clear that King is not a detective and that he is not looking to “solve” the mystery. However, the reader cannot help but get drawn into events and you find yourself hoping that something will break – a clue will slip out which gives you an insight into how the book may resolve the issue. As such you read Six Stories with an increasing level of concentration and focus lest you miss the nugget which may let slip an inconsistency in the various recollections.
The interview/podcast format is superb. The individual episodes are broken up with very short sequences which are not part of the podcast but these add an additional dark and intriguing element to the tale. Six Stories is incredibly atmospheric and the interview sections give a real intimacy to the telling of the story. At times it did not feel like I was reading a book – more akin to listening to an old story teller spinning a yarn for the crowd in a smoky tavern.
If you want a richly rewarding reading experience then Six Stories is it.
Six Stories is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Six-Stories-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1910633623/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490822340&sr=8-1&keywords=Matt+Wesolowski