Written by Matt Wesolowski
Published by Orenda Books, June 1, 2017
My star rating: 2.5 stars
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. Find it on Goodreads
This may be one of the most difficult reviews I’ve ever written. Books that I rate lower than 3 stars usually are. But this one is even more difficult for a few reasons. First off, there were a lot of positives about this book. Things that were done well and I really enjoyed. But in this case, the negative aspects of it outweighed the good. I will say though, that this was one of those “It’s not you, it’s me” situations. The book itself wasn’t all that bad! I just think that I was the wrong audience for it.
Let me start with the positives. First of all, this is a mystery told in a very unique format. As of recently, I’ve been obsessed with crime/mystery podcasts. I could spend hours listening to that stuff! And when I found out that this was told in the way of a podcast – I knew I had to read it. Each of the six “episodes” follows a new person that was close to the victim. Each one of these perspectives lends a different angle and point of view. Each of these supposed “suspects” had a different relationship with the victim and we feel as though we have a firm grasp on the situation and the people involved. This was SO well done! As I was reading I could almost hear the voices in my head like I was listening to a podcast. I LOVED this!
Along the same lines, the writing was good as well. I felt like he was good at creating suspense and atmosphere. I always felt like darkness was lurking and secrets were around the corner…….
…….. and here comes the bad. See, here’s the thing – I always felt like secrets were around the corner. Meanwhile they never were. The suspense carried on far too long for my liking. I kept saying to myself “The next perspective will give me answers”…… it never did. Then I would say “The next page will tell me something new”……. nope, nothing again. Each perspective was interesting and different, yet at the same time they accounted the same damn things over and over, just in a different voice and changed a few minor details. We were given layers, but not enough detail within those to sway my mind and wonder, “did they do it?”. I wasn’t necessarily bored though. The author still managed to keep me interested even though the situations were familiar, and he was still able to change enough that I was interested in continuing. But, after about 150 pages and I felt like I was no closer to the end, I was getting so frustrated that I still had nothing to go on.
The other thing that kind of ruined the book – I figured out the who done it basically in chapter one. I didn’t know exactly why, but I knew who was going to be the killer. So when it happened, it was just very blah.
I really did enjoy his writing. And I loved the format even more. But I’m not the type of person who can be kept in the dark for 200 pages. As much as I love suspense, I need something in the way of details and information to keep me going. I may still give this author another chance at a later date, and I can see why people gave this one 5 stars…… but I won’t be doing that today!
Until next time, happy reading!