Six friends trapped by one dark secret.
It was supposed to be our last weekend away as friends, before marriage and respectability beckoned. But what happened that Saturday changed everything.
In the middle of the night, someone died. The six of us promised each other we would not tell anyone about the body we buried. But now the pact has been broken. And the killing has started again …
Who knows what we did? And what price will we pay?
As a huge fan of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast, which Veste co-hosts with fellow crime fiction writer Steve Cavanagh, I was aware that Veste usually writes police procedurals that are a blend of crime fiction and horror and that comment on the nature of mythology. The Six is Veste’s first book that isn’t a police procedural. Instead, it features a group of six friends who have a life-changing experience at a nineties-themed music festival. The book is narrated by Matt, one of the friends, both in the present (immediately before, during, and after the event) and in the past (when the friends were in high school and college). The past narrative brilliantly gives us an insight into the relationships between the six friends, as well as stirring up more questions about what might really have happened in the woods that night.
The sections set in the past, as well as the festival itself, contain plenty of authentic nineties nostalgia through music and television references. I’m about the same age as Veste so I identify with the issues in the book: thirty-somethings at the cusp of adulthood, unable to go back but also hesitant about the future. In addition, referencing the nineties creates an interesting juxtaposition between the cheesy pop artists mentioned playing at the festival and in a playlist Matt created to accompany the weekend (including Steps, Britney Spears, East 17, and Will Smith to name a few) and the wealth of now classic horror films released during the nineties; the book is indirectly infused with the atmosphere of films including Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs, Scream, and The Blair Witch Project (a feat I’m also trying to add to my own book that I’m writing at the moment) so kudos to Veste for achieving this so vividly. The book is gloriously creepy as the group have no idea what they’re up against and features one particularly disturbing scene of body horror involving a train.
The book is also a commentary on mythology and media and online coverage of murder cases and missing persons cases. As a result, the friends are unsure whether they have even come in contact with a serial killer, The Candle Man. To add to this, it’s unclear whether there is such a killer, or group of killers, as the police have denied that such a figure exists. The book is a creepy mystery as Matt becomes plagued with paranoia and anxiety as he searches for answers online about what really happened and who might be after the group. Yet, his narrative never seems completely trustworthy in itself as he questions everyone around him and his friends start to question him. It’s a brilliant commentary on paranoia within groups of friends and dealing with the consequences of a crime and the collective trauma this can cause.
I haven’t read any of Veste’s previous books, including those in the Murphy and Rossi series, but I’ll be rectifying this pretty quickly. The Six is a highly accomplished and thoroughly enjoyable psychological thriller with a great dose of horror.
My thanks to Luca Veste, Simon & Schuster UK, and NetGalley for giving me an advanced review copy in return for an honest review.
About the author
Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Liverpudlian heritage, married with two young daughters, and one of nine children. He studied psychology and criminology at the University in Liverpool. He is the author of the Murphy and Rossi series, which includes DEAD GONE, THE DYING PLACE, BLOODSTREAM, and THEN SHE WAS GONE.
Part psychological thriller, part police procedural, his books follow the detective pairing of DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi. The novels are set in Liverpool, bringing the city to life in a dark and terrifying manner…with just a splash of Scouse humour.