This review is long overdue. To explain just how long overdue it is I’ll briefly tell you a story.
Last summer at the Harrogate Crime Festival, I bumped into Karen Sullivan. Well, bumped into isn’t quite the right way of putting it. I spotted her across the gardens at the front of the hotel and made a beeline for her. She and I had never met before, although I had seen her when I went to an Orenda Roadshow event a couple of years earlier. We had also exchanged the odd comment on Twitter, mainly after I’d raved about Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series.
Anyway, I introduced myself, we shared stories of catching Covid – she seems to have developed a habit there – and I apologised for not doing a review yet of Matt’s last two books in the series. I’d read them, but not got round to writing the reviews. I promised to get them done – although she was certainly not putting any pressure on me to. In fairness, I doubt my reviews will make that much of an impact, so she had no reason to push me on it. Still, I left that conversation with good intentions. That never materialised into actions.
I should add that I also bumped into Matt himself that evening and took the opportunity to bore him with how much I enjoyed his books. Whether I promised him I’d write those reviews, I can’t recall. By that time, I suspect drink had been taken.
Bottom line, I was already late last summer. Now, having been to this year’s Harrogate Crime Festival, it’s time to start putting that right.
If you haven’t come across Matt’s books and are curious, you can find my reviews of the first four by typing his name (you probably won’t even need to get as far as his full first name) into the ‘Search’ box to the right of the page. Alternatively, you can click on any of the following links:
What I will repeat (in case you haven’t come across his books and/or don’t check out any of those reviews) is an overview of the structure of a Six Stories novel – because they are very different to any other kind of book I’ve read. Rather than a straight narrative, each novel is presented in the form of a series of podcasts. I have previously compared them to Dracula and Frankenstein, in the sense that they were each written as a collection of letters and journal entries. Clearly the podcast is a much more up to date variation on the theme. Those particular books probably sprang to mind because there is also a sense of the gothic with the Six Stories series.
The podcast host, Scott King, takes a look at an historical event or crime over the course of six episodes. Each episode tells a different story about that event, focusing on the perspective of a different person who was connected to it. Those perspectives aim to provide a better understanding of what happened. That’s the purpose of the podcast although, as King himself says, there’s no certainty that there’ll be any firm conclusions by the time they get to the end.
This time, Wesolowski takes us into the world of celebrity and makes it murkier with this particular celebrity already dead and surrounded by accusations of sexual abuse, not to mention murder. The similarities between the fictional Zach Crystal and some real celebrities who’ve hit the headlines are hard to miss. But it was very easy to set aside those connections as the author creates a compelling character in his own right. No crossover is necessary.
Yet again, as each story is told, the picture changes for the reader and, as you begin to come up with your own ideas about what really happened, you find they’re confounded with each subsequent episode. Wesolowski is a master at wrong-footing you so, in the end, you conclude that you just have to go along for the ride and enjoy (if that’s the right word, because there’s some uncomfortable material in here) the process of finding out the truth.
When I reached the end of Deity, I knew there was only one more book in the series. I hoped there’d be more after, but I didn’t want to jump straight into the next one because I was concerned about the void that’d be left when I’d finished it. I decided I’d have to pace myself and wait a while. Read some other books in between times so I could savour the last one. And then maybe there’d be another coming out shortly after that one. That was my thinking. But it didn’t work. I was hooked, and I managed to wait little more than a week. That’s how good this series is.
If I’ve piqued your interest and you want to know more, click on the left-hand image for the eBook, and the right hand image for the paperback.