A family massacre. A deluded murderess. Five witnesses. Six stories. Which one is true?
One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.
King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.
As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…
Dark, chilling and gripping, Hydra is both a classic murder mystery and an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, that shines light in places you may never, ever want to see again.
Hydra was published by Orenda Books on 15th November 2017 and you can purchase it from Waterstones and Amazon.
I moved straight on from Six Stories to this one, the second in the series. And it's another cracker.
Again, it's a podcast of six episodes looking at a controversial crime from the past. This one is not too far back, and we know from outset the perpetrator and the details of the crime. What Scott King, presenter of Six Stories, is interested in is why Arla Macleod brutally murdered her family.
The setting of the crime isn't as creepy as Scarclaw Fell was in Six Stories, but the background story is more spooky! Well, for me it was anyway! Those black-eyed kids mean I might never answer a knock on my door again! Seriously, seriously spooked! And Matt has clearly done his research into these bizarre deadly games which are talked about on the internet. I'm horrified as it appears people do actually try them.
Again, the characterisation is brilliant, and the voices authentic. I listened as Scott interviewed these folk, heard Arla's accent, and the hesitation and confusion of the other people who had touched her life. It was an immersive experience. I was moving towards reaching my own conclusion, but was a bit off base.
And Matt's writing is exquisite. I marked a couple of phrases that I thought were really quite beautiful, but there are plenty more examples:
' ...tears clenched like fists behind my eyes ' and
' ...feels like every lead I follow ends up with faded footsteps in falling snow. '
I don't really want to say anything else for fear of spoiling it for you. Suffice to say, in my opinion, it's another triumph for a fabulous new voice in crime fiction. Inventive, creepy, disturbing and authentic. A must read!
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for children in care and leads creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North.
Wesolowski started his writing career in horror and was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at 'Bloody Scotland'; Crime Writing Festival 2015. His subsequent debut crime novel 'Six Stories' was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017.