- Deity (Six Stories #5).
- Matt Wesolowski.
- 320 pages.
- Mystery / Thriller / Psychological Thriller.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Which one is true?
When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.
Online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rakes over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Whose remains – still unidentified – were found in the ashes? Why was he never officially charged?
Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Deity is a look at the evil within, the monster that can be hidden behind the mask of celebrity, fame and fortune and how those in a position of power exploit their fans to sate their depraved appetites. Deity is yet another addictive, clever and twisted delight by the diabolical talent that is Matt Wesolowski and the fifth book in his always stellar Six Stories series. Like the previous four books, it features a self-contained story and can easily be read as a standalone. Six Stories is a true-crime podcast hosted by the online journalist Scott King where six individual stories are told over six episodes with each new episode introducing a new guest who has links to the case that King is investigating. With each guest, King questions them, probing and reopening old wounds, but he allows them the chance to tell their own story and their piece of the puzzle. King has no agenda, he is an intermediary, a go-between and Six Stories the conduit that allows the guests the opportunity for their voice and their words to be heard. Where the story goes, King follows travelling down the roads that open up. King allows listeners to his podcast (us readers) the chance to make up our own minds, laying out the information while remaining neutral. He has no personal stake in the investigation and he doesn’t pass judgement until he has all the facts at his disposal and until he has heard all six stories from his guests.
In Deity, Scott King is looking into the life and death of Zach Crystal and the allegations of abuse that plagued his career both in life and in his death as more and more women are coming forward with historical abuse claims against the deceased superstar. Zach Crystal was a megastar who had a stratospheric rise to fame. A rags to riches story, coming from a poor family and a deeply religious upbringing on a council estate in the Midlands, through to his teenage years in ‘The Crystal Twins’ with his twin sister Naomi before he left to going solo and his ascent to becoming a world-famous musician. Crystal was a recluse and an enigma who, before his death lived in Crystal Forest, a five-hundred-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands comprising a remote mansion, recording studio and two-storey treehouse (a sanctum, a sanctuary away from the world where he could be himself) deep in the wilderness, surrounded by state-of-the-art security and miles away from anyone.
Without going into detail, the six guests on the six episodes of Six Stories in Deity and the souls that are tangled in the story, that are entwined with Zach Crystal and the web surrounding him are the host of Monster-Busters, a YouTube channel that exposes online predators and who believes that Crystal is guilty of the accusations levelled against him. A super fan of Zach Crystal and ardent supporter of his innocence who has her own podcast ‘The Crystal-Cast’. A groundskeeper in Colliecrith National Park, the park where Zach Crystal’s estate (Crystal Forest) was located who was originally employed to help build the estate and who was then, after the estate’s completion hired as a security guard. A mother of a Zach Crystal fan who, along with her daughter spent time at Crystal Forest. A musician who was famous in the early noughties, who have had their own share of controversy surrounding them (they are a returning guest to Six Stories, their inclusion in Deity makes perfect sense from a storytelling perspective as both they and Crystal are/were involved in the music industry and their appearance is also a wonderful nod and throwback to a previous Six Stories book and serves to show how much Scott King has grown as a host as back on their first appearance, King wasn’t asking the right questions, but maybe he is now) and whose path has crossed with Zach Crystal on both a personal and a professional level. And finally, a family member, kin and Zach Crystal’s own blood. Interspersed between each of the episodes of Six Stories there are snippets of a transcript from the last interview that the Zach Crystal did a few months prior to his death.
Each new episode and interview goes further beneath the surface and there’s nothing shallow or superficial about the story told in Deity as Wesolowski plumbs the depths of Zach Crystal. Wesolowski keeps the waters murky and tenebrous, obscuring the picture and making you question if Crystal is someone whose legacy has been tainted by people with a vendetta against him. People who are out for nothing more than to make money and a name for themselves at the expense of a dead man as the dead can’t speak and they can’t defend themselves or their actions. If he is simply different and misunderstood, an eccentric musician who wanted nothing more than to help damaged teenagers from disadvantaged upbringings by giving something back to those who have nothing in life but scars from a troubled childhood. Or, if he truly is guilty of the heinous and horrific accusations against him and that he used his fame, fortune and name to coerce, manipulate and seduce his fans into doing things that they shouldn’t as they worshipped at the altar of their musical idol.
As you fall deeper down the rabbit hole you find yourself turning the pages with ominous dread, a sense of foreboding for where the story will lead. After all, it’s Six Stories, it’s Wesolowski and you know that there will be no sunshine, kittens and lollipops waiting for you as you reach the end of the story. However, it’s only with the last guest and the last part of their interview that the water truly becomes clear, chillingly so and any lingering shred of doubt that you might have had over whether or not Zach Crystal is guilty of the accusations against him finally vanishes. You are nearing the end, the page count is fast dwindling, there are only a few pages left, you think that all the cards have been dealt and that you know where they have fallen, but no, Wesolowski has one last trick up his sleeve as he pulls out THAT shocker of a revelation and jaw-dropping denouement, stunning, absolutely stunning.
The plotting in Deity is devilish by design, tension-filled and keeps you gripped throughout. The writing is the same high standard that we have all come to expect from Wesolowski and that he consistently delivers in his Six Stories series. The sense of setting that Wesolowski manages to convey is, once again terrific with the forest where Crystal Forest is located feeling menacing and highly atmospheric. Even five books into the series the interview transcript format still feels fresh and unique. There are distinctive characters in Deity, all with their own voice who come to life and feel like real people, while they may not be likeable, they are human.
In the Six Stories series, Wesolowski incorporates a supernatural element into his work that casts a lengthening shadow over the story blending together the natural with the supernatural in an unholy union. In Deity, the supernatural aspect comes from the Frithgast, a creature with a rotting body, a skeletal face and glowing red eyes. Sighting of the Frithgast is a portent that something bad will happen and an ill omen for what is to come. The local legend has its own folklore and myth surrounding it and comes with its own chilling ghost story.
Deity once again finds Wesolowski dancing with the darkness as he takes the reader on another powerful, unsettling and thought-provoking journey into the disturbing and darkened heart of human nature.
Pre-order Deity released in ebook on December 18th, 2021 and paperback on February 18th, 2021.
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