Deity by Matt Wesolowski #BookReview #BlogTour

 

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 rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? 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…

In these days of the instant gratification of binge watching or listening, there is still something rather satisfying about waiting for a new episode of a favourite series. I realise that some people may wonder why I'm describing the latest instalment in Matt Wesolowski's Six Stories series as an episode but that's how they are described - and it fits perfectly because each one of these superb books is built around a fictional true crime podcast and are so pitch perfect, I find it's almost possible to forget I'm just reading them. Each can be read as a standalone although as returning readers are often rewarded with tantalising mentions of former investigations, I suspect many newcomers are tempted to read the previous novels. I certainly recommend that you do, if this applies to you.
As always with this series, there is a feel of the horror novel about Deity, thanks this time to the numerous reported sightings of a particularly macabre omen of death. However, online journalist Scott King wants to find out whether a different sort of monster haunted Crystal Forest, the remote site of pop legend, Zach Crystal's treetop home. As a teenager he formed a moderately successful clean-cut Christian-pop band with his sister, Naomi but only achieved megastar status when he went solo. It shocked the world when Zach died in a fire at his mansion but Scott isn't investigating the circumstances behind his death; he wants to discover the truth about the man behind the myth.
The #metoo campaign has seen a number of high-profile public figures accused of sexual harassment and abuse, and so the claims and counter-claims concerning Zach Crystal feel grounded in reality. There have been rumours and proven allegations about celebrities since before social media allowed people to voice their experiences and opinions, of course and I'm sure it's no coincidence that I was reminded of both Jimmy Savile and Michael Jackson. As with the former, part of Crystal's public image was built around his charity work, visiting hospitals and supporting vulnerable young girls from troubled backgrounds. The most striking parallels are with Jackson, however, and not just because both were eccentric and reclusive enigmas. Perhaps one of the most disturbing elements of the story is the exploration of how fame and money can persuade people to lower their guard and accept behaviour they might otherwise question.
However, as yet there is no definitive proof to the accusations and there are still people who vociferously defend Crystal while casting doubt on the women who have come forward. It would be easy to dismiss his most ardent fans as delusional stans but Matt Wesolowski takes a fairer, more balanced stance that acknowledges the intense idolatry without adopting a mocking tone. It means King's confusion becomes our own, as conflicting memories deepen this ominous mystery still further.
Alongside the podcasts that make up the Six Stories of King's investigation, there are transcripts of a rare television interview Zach Crystal agreed to shortly before his death. Here, Crystal seems rather idiosyncratic but the overwhelming impression is of a deeply reserved man who has struggled with the gaze of the world upon him. It's the frenzied response of his fans which is more telling - even the interviewer, Ruby Rendall is in his thrall and these sections are a fascinating glimpse into the power he apparently held over audiences.
Ultimately, this is what the haunting, perceptive Deity questions; why is fame so powerful that it bestows on ordinary people an almost god-like status, allowing their behaviour to be excused, ignored or validated by those who should know better? The truth matters, of course, but so too does an honest examination as to why people can be manipulated into believing that ancient forests may hide horrific monsters while overlooking those living among us. Despite the folkloric darkness, Deity is so frighteningly, damningly real, I could believe I was reading a true story. As a lover of intelligent, provocative, sinister fiction, I thought Deity was excellent; as a parent to teenagers, it's terrifying. I loved it!

Deity is published by Orenda Books, it is out now in ebook and will be available in paperback from 18th February 2021. Purchasing links can be found here but please consider supporting independent bookstores whenever possible, either by buying directly or ordering from bookshop.org
 
Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.


About the Author
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was a bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller, Changeling (2019) and Beast (2020) soon followed suit.

Comments

  1. Huge thanks for the blog tour support Karen xx

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  2. Sounds like another very topical and strong entry in the series. I really enjoy them! So different from anything else out there, aren't they?

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