Rating: 2 stars
Time taken: 3 days
Format: E-book from own TBR
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.
So the 2 star rating for this wasn’t really the best start for 2021. Now I know a lot of people love this and I can understand why as I was interested in the story and the premise.
However, sometimes there’s something in a book that you catch and you can’t get past it and it just gets worse and worse, and for that was the massive consent issues. An argument could be made that maybe the comments weren’t meant in that way but for me the author wrote something into the storyline that he needed for the plot (I argue otherwise) and it put a character in a bad light and he didn’t want that so tried to get around that.
In doing so he created dubious consent with added drug and alcohol abuse with one character actively plying another with drugs and having pre-meditated the situation. Then further to that he engaged in victim blaming whereby the other characters took it out on the victim and finally he forced the character that was a victim to say she regretted it immediately but that she consented to it (which is just an aggressive and frankly terrible way to try and get around the issue). It continued throughout and I don’t feel it was necessary but instead was acting as a potential motive.
I think if it was going to be included then there should have not been the forceful commentary that the reader should just ignore it and instead have addressed the problematic element more openly and stopped that issue going any further.
On to the positives, the story was interesting and I loved the format. There was a horror element to the story and it got a bit into ghost and monster stories and it wasn’t the main aspect so it was fine.
The author does deceive you in this and if you’ve been around before you know I hate that in books. An element in this was just so implausible and I don’t really get why it was done and again felt like the author wrote himself into a bit of a whole and didn’t know how to get out of it and ended up having to suspend our disbelief.
I do think that element was fully resolved in this book and as so it shouldn’t continue on and I am interested in the future books by the author and in this series as I do really like the writing style and love the podcast element.
I don’t think there are any likeable characters in this but I do think they’re plausible and real enough to enjoy the characterisation elements. This book was also compelling as it was a cold case essentially so seeing the character discussing themselves at the time and later in life was something I enjoyed.
There is an element of foreshadowing really early on that makes the killer and motive quite clear and it’s not hard to spot. It was laid on too thick I think and hopefully it’s less apparent in the future novels so there’s more of a mystery.
I was fine with the ending and I like that it was a perfectly neatly wrapped story. It does contain the deception element and that really let it down for me because I wasn’t shocked but instead was just cynical and it ruined a lot of the story for me but it’s something you can move past for the future novels.
I apologise to everyone that loves this and gave it 5 stars as I know there are a lot of you out there but hopefully you can bare with me as I look to pick up the sequels.