It took Joseph Knox eight years of “lunch breaks, stolen hours and ruined holidays” to complete Sirens, but when Lee Child sums up your debut novel as “Razor-sharp urban noir – very special indeed” you’ve got to feel that the toil was worth it.
As a huge fan of Lee Child’s novels, I was anticipating a treat of a read.
Based in Manchester, Sirens centres around disgraced junior detective Aidan Waits: from page one you learn he’s a man with a troubled past. In parallel with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, it seems Waits has a way of finding trouble, or perhaps trouble has a way of finding him.
Aidan Waits receives a call from David Rossiter, a persuasive MP who obliges him to investigate the disappearance of his teenage daughter, Isabelle. Waits soon discovers the story behind her vanishing is more complex than he could have anticipated and involves the uncompromising & dangerous criminal, Zain Carver.
I’m not sure whether we’re meant to like Waits or not; I try to see the best in people (yes, even fictional characters), so when he’s launched into the underbelly of Manchester’s drug & club scene with a ticking timebomb, I was rooting for him all the way.
Waits is quickly out of his depth and abandoned by his bosses, but somehow we can sense he’s a survivor. On top of that, he is – despite appearances – a good detective, with useful contacts. Will that be enough to find the runaway before it’s too late?
We know that some real-life detectives are required to gain undercover access to inner circles of hardened criminals. Knox brings this seemingly life-altering experience into stark light, presenting its potential horrors to the uninitiated with no holds barred.
The narrative is powerful, disturbing, authentic. If Aidan Waits doesn’t grace our screens as an eponymous film noir hero, it’d be a crying shame.
Joseph Knox has written a further two Aidan Waits novels: The Smiling Man and The Sleepwalker. We can look forward to his first standalone novel, True Crime Story, in the summer of 2021.
Bye for now!
Disclosure: Joseph Knox sent a copy of his book to me in return for an honest review. As ever, all views are my own.