Author of the Month

Name: Luca Veste

First Novel: Dead Gone

Most Recent Book: The Six

'...delivers a sucker punch to make ‘The Six’ one of the best thrillers of the year.'

Synopsis:
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…

Review:
Luca Veste, author of the Murphy and Rossi detective series has turned his hand to standalone psychological thrillers. With his latest novel, ‘The Six’, he goes into full-blown horror movie territory as he mixes the concepts of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ with ‘Friends’. Those two mash-ups shouldn’t work, but with Veste writing, you know it will.

Told in the first person, from the point of view of one of the six friends, Matt, we flash back in time from the present day to times in Matt’s life when he met his five other friends and incidents that happened that shaped their relationship. It’s these mini-stories that help the characters to grow and become real. Through Matt’s eyes, we get to know his friends as well as he does, and we see why the six are so closely bonded.

‘The Six’ opens with the friends attending a music festival showcasing the best of nineties music. I imagine Luca had a wonderful time researching the tracks he mentions. I’m a similar age to the characters; it was interesting to relive the Blur v Oasis argument all over again. This book really should come with a soundtrack. Once at the festival, a man dies, the six cover up the incident and swear never to speak of it again. The story then fast forwards a year. It’s at this point I worried Veste would descend into cliché and the characters would start receiving sinister phone calls and jumping at their own shadow. I needn’t have worried. Veste is a master at character development and he shows the human impact of tragedy on real life people rather than cardboard horror film types.

That’s what ‘The Six’ is all about. An accident. An error of judgement. The aftermath and the toll it takes on regular, every day lives.

With a Luca Veste chiller, you know genuine scares are around the corner and no matter how much you brace yourself, you still get a tingle down the spine as the tension mounts, the horror rachets up a notch and the finale delivers a sucker punch to make ‘The Six’ one of the best thrillers of the year.

As much as I love the Murphy and Rossi series and hope Veste returns to detective fiction at some point, I’m very happy with this standalone thriller and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. A few more like this under his belt and Veste could become the British Stephen King.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating



Questionnaire

1) 'The Six’ could be described as ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ meets ‘Friends’. How did you come up with the concept?
‘Friends’ was in mind when I thought of the idea actually. In the sense of what would happen if a close group of friends did something terrible. How would that play out, could they live with themselves, how does that change the group dynamic? However, the initial image I had in my mind was of a group of people standing around a body. I wanted to write something that was less about police investigating a crime and more about people dealing with the aftermath of one. Ordinary people in an extraordinary situation and how they live with guilt, fear, and the anxiety of things never being the same again.
2) A murder among close friends comes back to haunt them a year later. It sounds like a plot we’ve all read before yet you never slip into cliche and ‘The Six’ remained intelligent and engaging until the end. How difficult was it not to descend down such a well-trodden path?
I think it’s almost impossible to write something that doesn’t share aspects with other stories already out there. I guess I just try and tell a story in my own way. You could give the same idea to many different writers and the result would be very different each time.
3) Music seems to play an important part, particularly in the beginning of the book. For people of a certain age (like me), you captured the spirit of the 90s. Is music important to you?
Very important. I grew up in a household that was always either filled with music, laughter, or the angry yells of warring siblings. I was playing guitar at a young age, listening to music every day, and that hasn’t really changed. Writing ‘The Six’ came at a time when I was a real nostalgia trip for the ‘90s. It seeped into the book and came to play a pretty major role in the book.
4) You are able to create well-rounded characters in your novels, making them all seem real rather than mere two-dimensional. Which means more to you, plot or character?
Both are important, so it’s difficult to choose one or the other! Creating new characters is one of my favourite parts of writing a new novel. Plot is equally important, as you have to care what happens to those characters in the end. I think character just about wins out in a very close contest.
5) Your last novel, ‘The Bone Keeper’, and now ‘The Six’, feature two very disturbing serial killers. What interests you most about the serial murderer?
I think it’s the most real bogeyman that exists in society. So many of us enjoy myths and tales of the unknown. When you use something rooted in reality, it only serves to give a frisson more excitement and dread when reading. I have been interested in the psychology behind serial murder for a long time, but also just people in general. What makes one person choose different paths than others? I don’t think the answer is simply that some people are just “born evil”. There is so much more to it than that. I’m always trying to explore those types of questions through writing my novels.
6) What can we expect next from the dark mind of Luca Veste?
I’m currently editing my next novel, ‘The Game’, which is about . . . well, a game. I can’t really say much about it right now, but it’s dark. As always.
7) With your experience as a writer, what advice would you give to anyone attempting their first novel?
Finish a first attempt. That’s the most difficult part. Once you have a first draft, of whatever length it is, you can then edit it and edit it. It’s always easier to work with words already on the page. It doesn’t have to be good. That can come later in the process.
8) Are you a fan of crime fiction? Which three crime novels would you like with you if stranded on a desert island?
The 50/50 Killer - Steve Mosby

Scaredy Cat - Mark Billingham

The Cry ‘ Helen FitzGerald

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