Six Stories is being published by Orenda Books on 30 March 2017.
Thanks to the publisher Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy.
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.
I was drawn into this dark, suspenseful powerful thriller almost immediately and it held my interest throughout.
Hard to believe that this book is a debut because it is just so good. The writer must have been hiding away for years perfecting his craft, or he’s a natural born writer. I suspect it’s the latter.
Something that is known to most police officers or anyone connected to the legal profession is the disparity between eyewitness accounts to any event. This difference of accounts is the core of the narrative and builds up the tension, while we the reader tries to decide who was the guilty party and what exactly happened on a fateful night when a young man went missing, only for his body to emerge a year later.
A group of young people, The Rangers, some of whom have known each other for years via family connections gather every so often at an outward bound remote lodge to enjoy the countryside and their shared friendship. The dynamics of the group are altered with a tragic outcome when a troubled young man with a history of minor offending joins their group.
Some years later, each member of the group, plus the parent who organised the meet-ups, a vulnerable local boy and the current owner of the land, gives their account of events leading up to the night one of them went missing via Skype to a Podcaster whose podcasts about the incident cause a resurgence in public interest, with the nation eagerly keeping up with the Six Stories and hoping to find out at last what exactly had happened.
In the background to this, almost as a sub-plot, is the belief that there was some ethereal, unwholesome, evil being roaming the area at the time, a belief built up by local rumour and exaggerated scary tale telling that all adds to the spooky tense feel of the book.
I just wanted everyone to go away while I was reading this and leave me in peace to read it. Each time I put the book down, I was itching to return to it.
Outstanding 5***** from me.
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.
You can find him on Twitter: @ConcreteKraken
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