Online investigative journalist Scott King investigates the death of a pop megastar, the subject of multiple accusations of sexual abuse and murder before his untimely demise in a fire … another episode of the startlingly original, award-winning Six Stories series.
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…
Hi and welcome to my review of Deity!
Deity is the fifth instalment in the Six Stories series, time really does fly when you’re having fun! It can be read as a standalone: once again Six Stories podcast creator and host Scott King is trying to get to the bottom of an entirely new case, and he is literally the only constant throughout the entire series. There is, however, a treat for those who have read Hydra: Deity makes reference to the Arla Macleod case and one of the interviewees from that case pops up in this case as well. But don’t let that scare you off if you haven’t read Hydra: everything you need to know is explained and there are no spoilers either, should you want to catch up with the series afterwards.
With all the formalities out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!
Scott King is back! Six new podcast episodes, six interviews, six stories about one case: Zach Crystal.
In 2018, enigmatic superstar Zach Crystal disappeared from his 500-acre property, nicknamed Crystal Forest, in the Scottish Highlands. Crystal, described as the sultan of song-writing, the personification of the dream to grow up and be Someone, the walking rags-to-riches fairy, remained missing for an entire year before popping back up, only to die in a fire at Crystal Forest a few months later.
One might describe Zach Crystal as Britain’s answer to Michael Jackson, or that’s who he reminded me of in any case: a brilliant artist, a musical legend on the one hand, a bit of a weirdo entertaining questionable relationships on the other. Even after his death there’s this whole polemic: his fans believe he was a good guy, a charitable man and everything else is just rumours; his haters call him a predator: it’s not normal for a guy his age to invite teenage girls to stay at his private estate, even if he does invite their parents as well, and that’s not even mentioning the girls who were found dead at Crystal Forest and his closest advisor / PA / friend who had a fatal accident there.
Once again, Matt Wesolowski has created a story that is somehow utterly believable. As usual I will treat myself to the audiobook as soon as it’s out, which will be February 2021 if it’s to match the paperback publication date, although this year’s Beast took a while longer because Audible did a dramatisation, and I have a feeling they might do the same for Deity, they could do great audio things with one, let me tell you! But I digress. If it seems this real on paper, I already know that listening to the audiobook I will have to remind myself constantly that it is not an actual podcast, not an actual case, not a real person, not factual history.
It’s the manner in which Deity is composed that brings about that eerie feeling of reality. Like all Six Stories instalments, Scott King is either addressing his listeners or interviewing someone, and it creates such intimacy, like an actual person is, for instance, telling you about that awful moment when he found two dead girls in the woods, or that awe-inspiring moment when she met the man behind the legend and found him to be kind and sincere.
As always, there’s an occult thread woven into the story, muddying the waters. This time it is the legend of the Frithghast, some kind of spectre with horns and hooves, a dark half-rotten deer or stag roaming the forest. I found it such interesting folklore that I went looking for more information, but there isn’t any: the Frithghast sprung from the dark crevices of Matt Wesolowski’s mind. Clearly a master of suggestion, the creepiness and eeriness of his stories lies in insinuation, which somehow makes the narrative a lot scarier than it would have been with full-on monster action scenes galore.
I would love to talk more, but I don’t want to spoil things. And what’s more, whatever else I might say, I will still leave things knowing I haven’t done Deity justice so I might as well call it a day! I will just add this: knowing what came before, I went in with the highest expectations, still Deity blew my socks off, the suspense mounting until it becomes positively unbearable, relief only to be had with the very last story. A top-notch thriller with thought-provoking themes and a dark folklore element, Deity held me captive from intriguing start to mind-blowing finish, even when I had to put it down and long after I’d finished it. Highly recommended!
Deity is out in digital format on the 18th of December, and in paperback (and hopefully also audiobook) on the 18th of February 2021.
Hugest of thanks to Orenda Books for the gorgeous proof copy. All raving opinions are still my own 😊