★ ★ ★ ★
A relatively short novel — only 225 pages — Six Stories is packed with a mighty punch; an original atmospheric story told in a series of six interviews by investigative journalist Scott King, as he attempts to discover the truth behind Tom Jeffries mysterious death at Scarclaw Fell twenty-years ago. Prior to reading Six Stories, I had recently discovered true-crime podcasts–such as Serial, which is frequently referenced to throughout–so I could not resist reading this book. This is one of those books where you want to go into it without knowing much aside from the blurb, and just let yourself get engrossed and experience the story. I finished reading and took a few days to write this review because I was stunned. If I had to sum it up in a quick sentence, it would be: a complex, clever literary thriller that at times left me feeling claustrophobic, and yet I could not stop reading.
This was unlike anything I have read before, because it is told in the form of a podcast transcript, so the first chapter (or rather, episode 1) took some getting used to because of the italics and format, but I adjusted to it easily come episode 2 as the story got going. It is authentic when it comes to reading like podcast transcripts, which at times did become tedious due to repeated information from previous episodes and King constantly interrupting during interviews to fill the readers in on further information backstory–however, it added to the conversational aspect and brought everything together in an engaging way. There were breaks in between interviews when we also get insight and the impact the events had on Harry Saint Clement-Ramsay, who’s father owns the land, and he is the one who found the decaying corpse of Tom Jeffries one year after his disappearance.
While a mystery-thriller, Six Stories does touch on the impact of bullying, friendships, rejection, manipulation, and similar issues during one’s youth, and the consequences to those actions along with the effect it has on others. I think in a sense, it was the base point of the beginning and what lead to the events that took place, and really puts into perspective that what you do does make an everlasting impact on the lives of those around you, and the author was attentive when it came to addressing that.
I found myself paying close attention to those being interviewed because I wanted to try to piece bits of information together and see where it lead to, if it were correct in the end. I did catch the clue in the second episode, which resulted into questioning the outcome that happened to be true, but it didn’t take away from the reading experience at all. If anything, I was eager to finish reading to find out how it actually unfolded. You can feel the underlying tension build as the episodes progress, and it is a mix of emotions from fear to anticipation because you want the truth.
Wesolowski’s is a natural writer, who crafted such a haunting, immersive podcast murder-mystery novel. I typically keep my reviews brief, but I think the length of this review shows just how much I loved this debut novel! Six Stories is a chilling and gritty narrative that will leave you horrified in the end.
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. 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 rivaled 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. 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.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by Orenda Books
I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.