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. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.
|Amazon||ARC/ebook||280||Orenda Books||December 20th, 2016|
The minute I started seeing Twitter raving about this book, and my fellow book bloggers loving it, I knew I had to get a piece of it. The book is good… it’s really, truly so darned good inside and out. It probably sounds unimportant but the mentions of Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel hit the sweet spot for me. I’m listening to Where the Slime Live as I write this review… the perfect soundtrack for Six Stories.
‘Welcome to Six Stories. I’m Scott King. In the next six weeks, we will be looking back at the Scarclaw Fell tragedy in 1996, we’ll be looking back from six different perspectives; seeing the events that unfolded through six pairs of eyes.’
You know what the beauty of this book is? Just think for a second… this is, in fact, a book (just hang in there, I’m getting to the point) and I’d say majority of people who read it, more than likely finish the book in 1-2, possibly 3 sittings. However, the podcasts, they are like an episode a week… Imagine actually listening to an episode a week, getting those new revelations… it’s like waiting for the next GoT or Vikings episode to air! Torture… Right, so the point I’m trying to make here is this: as a reader you sponge up all the new facts with speed and perhaps make up your mind about one character or the other quite quickly. Imagine having a week in between the podcasts though. You have longer time to ponder on what you’ve just learned, longer time to really put your personal brand of logical, analytical thinking into play, longer time to develop opinions, prejudices, theories. So, if you haven’t yet read the book, my recommendation is that you really give yourself time to enjoy each of the six stories. To really savor every moment as new facts or opinions are being presented to you. It’s truly worthwhile, if at times sad, to explore the group dynamics that Wesolowski… or should I say Scott King, is attempting to unravel.
In 1996, Tom Jeffries disappeared at Scarclaw Fell. A year later, the owner of the land discovered his remains. Misadventure. No one was charged.
20 years later, in 2017, Scott King airs 6 podcast interviews with the people who were there at the time of Tom’s disappearance. People who back then were just a bunch of ‘free range’ teenagers under the care of 2 adults.
Hereby you could well be considering 2 facts:
- “Podcasts? Really? Does anyone even listen to podcasts?” and
- “Tom’s disappearance happened when the people involved were teenagers? Ugh, I don’t know if I want to read about the whole teenage drama, you know?!”
Well, first of all, I’ve never listened to a full podcast IRL. I’ve tried but I find that my attention gets easily side-tracked as there is nothing to keep me visually engaged. However, in the case of Six Stories, I sure would listed to those podcasts. As humans we are a curious, nosey bunch and we want the juicy details, no matter how tragic the subject matter. No matter how holy you consider yourself to be, you just want to know!
And, as for point 2, yeah, the characters were teenagers back then, but as they are interviewed, 20 years have gone past and they look back at their younger days by way of mature input. It’s always interesting, even when you analyse yourself, to look back decade(s) and see yourself in a different light, to reason and explain yourself in a different manner. It also helps that the characters involved in this novel are all distinct and come with their own unique self, with their own unique voice and personality… They also come with their own personal baggage.
The writing in Six Stories is superb. I don’t only mean the podcast to paper execution, which was really just very well thought out and came across professional, but also the beautiful writing that gets reader from scene A to scene B… not overly lyrical, but succinct and to the point.
There is evil in the world. There is definitely evil in this world of ours. We carve monuments to our fallen, engrave them with the names of those whose lives were snuffed out when trying to stop evil. We don’t forget.
Throughout the six podcasts, the hints are subtle (unless you’re a really judgemental person 😛 ) and there weren’t any strong indications towards one person or the other. And the structure of the book played a big role here by keeping me interested because until the very last story has been revealed, you can’t really be sure about anything or anyone, right? Right! Not to mention that for a while I wasn’t really sure where the whole storyline was heading towards with the sideline story around monsters in the dark.
I’ve seen reviews that didn’t really like the horror aspect of the novel. Fair enough. Personally? I think it tied in pretty nicely. I may be seeing monsters where there ain’t none, but again, and this is what I like to take away from this whole reading experience, is this: didn’t everyone involved have a monster in them? Or maybe, if we think that there is evil in everyone of us, we think of someone as more of a monster than they actually are?
They say, if you don’t look at a monster, it grows. One minute there’s a single eye staring at you, and before you know it, there are twenty-one.
Essentially, this murder mystery is quite a bit more than just a hunt for the guilty party. It’s a chance to think, analyse and consider human behavior on a deeper level. Use it! 🙂
As each person was being interviewed to tell their side of the story, I couldn’t help but think of psychology’s 4 boxes aka the Johari Window:
It’s how we see&define ourselves and our actions, how others see&interpret us and our actions; and all those different angles twist and alter the details of the story- any story. It’s a simple fact of someone defining another person by their actions and how they appear. However, there is often a lot more to a person than can be perceived at face value. Everybody has secrets and unspoken aspects to their lives that affect and drive characteristics and attitudes. Simply put, this mightn’t have been how Wesolowski wanted the play on characters to come across, but personally I kept in mind and used this psychological tool as I explored each of the POVs.
The ending… the synopsis of the book describes the ending as devastating and it’s the truth. I bawled my eyes out. Totally unashamed about it as well. It was sad, DEVASTATING, heartbreaking, shocking and… yeah… ’nuff said.
Matt Wesolowski is currently working on his second crime novel, Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.
Me? I can’t wait to read Ashes! Black metal and Icelandic sorcery? How good does this sound?!
Until then… if you haven’t read Six Stories, I happily recommend it to you: