- Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. The truth about what really happened in Scarclaw Fell lies in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends.
- Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King. 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. Six interviews, which one is true?
This story is told in the style of a podcast and has been much compared to Serial, which I haven’t listened to myself, but plan to get around to at some point before the end of the year. After reading this novel, I HAVE to. Scott King focuses his podcasts on difficult and often mysterious criminal cases and decides to take on Tom Jeffries’ death, 20 years after the original events. Tom’s body is found one year after his disappearance at Scarclaw Fell by the land owners son, Harry. The circumstances in which Harry and his two friends come to find the body are equally as bizarre as the following story itself – Spooky noises in the night, stormy weather and difficult to tame dogs who are intent on leading them to the hidden entity they feel is watching them.
For a short book of only 225 pages, Matt Wesolowski did a wonderful job of creating and developing the characters of all those possibly involved with Jeffries’ death. The atmosphere between the teenagers and hints of a supernatural monster, made for an intriguing read throughout. I found myself wondering at times whether his death really was human inflicted or if indeed the work of the enigmatic monster, Nana Wrack, was at play. A somewhat shady death and a possible supernatural entity – HOOKED.
Each podcast focuses on the perspective of someone who was in Tom’s life at the time he disappeared. A group leader and several of the teenagers in his ‘friend’ group. I’ll use the term ‘friend’ lightly since it comes to light that most of the others didn’t actually like Tom all that much and at some point felt wronged by him or in some cases were bullied by him. This gives more than one person motive – if it was murder. It tells us that not many would really miss him – easier to let go over time. Yet, no one can really seem to get this strange case out there minds.
I will admit that whilst reading through this book, it often felt a bit more like a true crime story being told, such as the kind you might here on shows like Dateline, as opposed to a work of fiction. I was wary of a gimmicky feel or typical outcome. Six Stories proved me wrong. I found myself becoming more and more invested in this ‘case’ with every page and new ‘podcast’ release. Before I started reading, I was somewhat apprehensive since I’m not usually a huge fan of podcasts (I have a terrible wandering mind) and was worried I’d have the same issue with the same concept even on paper. It was NOT any trouble to read at all and I was so relieved. Once I figured out who was who and the story really got going, it was pretty easy to race through this story whilst lapping up every detail and trying to ‘solve’ the case myself.
Six Stories is now the second great debut novel I’ve read this year (‘One of Us Is Lying’ being the other). I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves crime fiction, mystery and a hint of the unusual. I’ll certainly be looking out for more of Matt Wesolowski’s work in the future!
Goodreads Rating: 4.02
Amazon Rating: 4.5 stars
My Rating: 5/5