The ‘six stories’ series is near the top of my must-read list, and the opportunity to read a new one is set aside to be savoured at leisure. Wesolowski has refined his inventive format with each episode, gradually revealing his secrets from six intersecting perspectives. Every single one of these witness statements comes from an unreliable narrator so they’re deliciously ambiguous. In the first books this could leave the reader a little adrift in places, but the author has now honed his technique to near-perfection.
The podcast presenter, Scott, acts as our guide, asking the crucial questions, providing a pertinent recap in places, and steering our attention to the critical issues – oh, and sometimes leading us up the garden path and in entirely the wrong direction. Scott is the central character of the series, but each book focuses on an individual mystery and new witnesses – although in Deity I enjoyed being reintroduced to a personality who’d popped up in an earlier instalment. We got to see him from an entirely different angle as a proper person, not a clichéd cut-out from central casting.
Deity’s story explores the murky uncertainties of the private life of an eccentric pop star, one of those celebrities who can seemingly get away with anything. It’s informed by the appalling incidents of Jimmy Savile’s sordid crimes, and incorporates aspects from the life of a famous US musician – a child star who never quite grew up – and more than one movie director (evoked with a clever if uncomfortable nod in the direction of Mia Farrow.) There’s a queasy authenticity to the events depicted, as well as a cracking fictional mystery.
Downside? There’s always ‘additional material’ included, stitched in between each witness, and this time I felt that the transcript from the TV show went on a little too long. The author expertly got the message across in the first couple of snippets and the later segments felt like they were treading established territory.
Upsides? Too many to mention, but let’s applaud the author’s wicked sense of ironic wit (the wonderfully named ‘Hopesprings estate’, for instance); his adroit observation of significant social issues; his ability to deliver jaw-dropping shocks, and his dedication to exposing uncomfortable topics through the broadly-accessible format of crime fiction. He’s a worthy wordsmith *and* an accomplished author, and the two don’t always go together.
Bravo on all counts.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Deity by Matt Wesolowski is available at Amazon
Looking for more interlocking murderous mysteries?
Find THE STONER STORIES at Amazon