There is a ton of social commentary to unpack in Deity, the fifth standalone in Matt Wesolowski’s “Six Stories” series. This may sound like an oxymoron, but Wesolowski has crafted a fascinating way to tell individual stories within the context of an on-going series – meaning that readers can start the “Six Stories” novels in any order and still come away satisfied with the investigation presented. The podcast boom has led to countless novels which weave that aspect into their narratives, but in the case of the “Six Stories” books, the podcast *is* the story. Each case is examined from the perspective of six interviewees, each of whom share their knowledge and help the reader (listener) to understand the “truth” as led by online journalist/podcast host, Scott King.
Deity looks at the enigmatic life of the legendary pop megastar Zach Crystal. Despite having a legion of devoted fans, when Crystal dies mysteriously in a fire that sweeps through his remote forest getaway/mansion, the rumors of sexual impropriety that have existed in the shadows during his meteoric rise to stardom once again come to the forefront.
Like many pop stars, Zach Crystal, was idolized by young fans – especially girls – from the moment The Crystal Twins (his partnership with twin sister Naomi) broke up and he ventured out as a solo performer. It is this accessibility to impressionable minors that becomes problematic for the Zach Crystal legacy. Not unlike the rumors that plagued Michael Jackson, Zack Crystal has a secret room where he entertains these girls, his mindset if often child-like and innocent, and he is never shy about the philanthropic help he provides to the families of these dedicated fans.
Readers get to hear from Ian Julius, who perpetrated a sting operation in the hopes of catching Zach Crystal in some compromising situation; Sasha Stewart, a Zach Crystal fanatic and host of Crystal-Cast (a podcast featuring all things Zach Crystal); Craig Kerr, the groundskeeper for Crystal’s forest abode; Marie Owen, the mother of one of Crystal’s rumored victims; fellow musical superstar, Skexxixx; and lastly, but certainly not least, Zach’s twin sister Naomi.
Fans of the “Six Stories” books will recognize Skexxixx as a prominent player in a previous investigation. Here once again, Wesolowski, proves how skilled he is at writing books that stand-alone, even when there are shared characters. Nothing in Deity ruins Skexxixx’s role in the earlier book for new readers. It does however, reveal another connective tissue within the “Six Stories” novels: regardless of the case being investigated, there is typically some possibly supernatural element that factors in, but is rarely really proven or disproven over the course of the investigation. In the case of Deity, this involves a Scottish folklore myth that portends that if an individual sees a mysterious entity with a horse-like visage, this is a prediction of an impending tragedy.
Interspersed between each of Scott King’s podcast interviews is a transcript from Zach Crystal’s first and last public television appearance – one that occurred not long before his tragic death in that unexplained fire. It is here that readers get to witness “first-hand” how the public reacts to Zach, which goes a long way to explaining other aspects of the case.
Deity looks at the dangers of idolization and the downsides of celebrity in a complex and fascinating way. All the clues to the shocking revelation at the end are skillfully placed in plain view for readers paying attention. Fans will certainly hope that there are many more investigations in the “Six Stories” series.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.