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.
This is such a unique idea to write in the style of a series of podcast interviews. That and the era’s being 1997 and 2017, drew me in completely. In 1997, I myself would have been 14 years old. So I felt I could relate to the group from one point of view and their circumstances etc. However, when it came to Scott King, I had huge suspicions with regards to his motives and the need to drag up the past.
In 1997 at Scarclaw Fell the body of Tom Jefferies is discovered, having been missing from the previous summer. At the time of his disappearance he was part of the ‘rangers’ group. Which consisted of four other teenagers and two adult supervisors. The teens have a wide range of personalities, with some facing complex ‘coming of age’ type home life situations. I was fascinated by the teens, even into their adult years. Their approach to Tom’s disappearance almost seemed as of one of complete indifference.
Why are the grown up, now adult teens so full of regrets and what if’s?
The media promptly assigned local weirdo/oddball Haris Novak as number one prime suspect, hounding him out of the town despite his alibi. The male adult supervisor also faced trial by media for his neglect of the teens and allowing them to run wild. Scott King pursues the individuals with a series of interviews. In a desperate attempt to not only understand their group dynamic but solve the mystery.
A mystery that makes for intriguing reading.
The location is atmospheric, you can picture the woods, disused mines and hunting lodge in your mind. The Teens are relatable and the era’s, make for an interesting comparison. Personally I felt that this novel would also suit the mature YA genre, as there is nothing too graphic or violent. I think it would engage teens of 2017, as their parents may have been teens of 1997.
I will certainly be passing this one on to my teenage daughter! 4*
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.
Via Orenda: http://orendabooks.co.uk/matt-wesolowski/