by Matt Wesolowski
Publication Date: January 18, 2018 (UK) June 1, 2018 (US)
Synopsis from Publisher:
One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather 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 key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as 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…
Last year I read Wesolowski’s Six Stories and was blown away. I enjoyed Six Stories immensely; I binge read the entire book in one day. When I was offered the chance to participate in a blog tour for Hydra, Wesolowski’s second book, I did not hesitate to join in. True crime podcasts and crime fiction books are two of my favorite things in the world. Wesolowski has merged true crime podcasts and crime fiction books with ground breaking creativity that will raise the bar for future crime fiction novels.
In November of 2014 Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, step-father, and younger sister to death. With no clear motive for the attack, speculation is drawn to the reason for the murders. We join Scott King, investigative journalist and host of the podcast Six Stories, as he interviews six people, with six points of views in a search for possible motives for the Macleod Massacre.
Even though readers will start Hydra knowing who is responsible for the Macleod Massacre, the story is still loaded with suspense and anxiety. After reading the synopsis, I thought Hydra was going to be a character study and I was somewhat correct. I assumed Scott King would interview those who were closest to Arla to find out why she killed her family. Within the first twenty to thirty pages, I realized this was not the case. Since Arla’s immediate family is dead and assuming they were the closest to her, the mystery was, who would King be interviewing? This was the most suspenseful aspect of Hydra - the identity of the next podcast guest and what they had to say about Arla. With the murder essentially solved, the suspense surrounded each podcast guest.
Wesoloskwi created a feeling of isolation within Hyrda. After I finished reading the book I was able to understand why I had feelings of loneliness and isolation. Arla has murdered her whole family; she has no one on her side (understandably so considering what she had done). Even people who believe there may be some mitigating circumstances behind the crime will not support Arla openly. The crime she committed is horrific but I could not help but feel sorry for her. Some parts of the story will magnify Arla’s vulnerable and fragile state.
Hydra reads like a podcast but has an added treat; unlike a podcast in Hydra we get insight into the thoughts of the host. Scott King remains elusive but is more accessible in Hydra than in Six Stories. The success of his podcast has shined a spotlight on his work, which makes him even more guarded and apprehensive. He must work harder to guard his private life.
Hydra is a crime fiction story, but there was an element of horror that I enjoyed. The “black eyed kids” were terrifying and the insights into Arla’s mind were disturbing. However, element of horror does not make the story unrealistic. Wesoloswki’s storytelling method is fresh and innovative in a genre that can sometimes seem repetitive and predictable. Hydra is a dark, creepy, and addictive read. Any lover of true crime podcasts and crime fiction should add Hydra to their crime fiction library.
**Thanks to Orenda Books for my free copy of Hydra.**
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 out of 5 Stars
** CHECK OUT THE OTHER STOPS ON THE BLOG TOUR**
Matt Wesolowski is 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- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie
Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella,
The Black Land, a horror 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 an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK
and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a majorHollywood studio..