Sirens by Joseph Knox

The Blurb On The Back:

What if I was to tell you about one person?

One person who desperately needs saving?

Detective Aidan Waits lives in a twilight world – part disappeared, part in view.  He is trying to save someone – when he should be trying to save himself.

The runaway daughter of a dirty politician. 

The unsolved disappearance of a young mother.

The crime lord who knows the city’s secrets.

The disgraced detective on the edge of it all.

Many questions.  Not many answers.  Not yet.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Aidan Waits is a disgraced detective constable and drug addict whose third strike found him forced to work on a clandestine and deniable undercover mission aimed at breaking open the activities of Zain Carver.  Carver is a Manchester drug lord suspected of being behind the disappearance 10 years earlier of Joanna Greenlaw, a young mother who used to work for him but who agreed to turn informer.  For Waits’s boss, Superintendent Parrs, convicting Carver is a personal vendetta.

Then Carver gets a call from the Justice Secretary, David Rossiter, who wants him to look for his daughter, Isabelle, a troubled 17-year-old who seems to be mixed up with Carver but who doesn’t want him to bring her home in case it damages his political reputation.  Forced to work both missions, it isn’t long before Waits finds himself out of his depth and out of friends just as he’s starting to uncover the answers to his questions …

Joseph Knox’s debut crime thriller is an assured piece of writing that effectively evokes Manchester’s grimy underbelly but the plot offers nothing new and Waits is a curiously underdrawn and somewhat bland character (as did the female characters) so that for all the drug taking and guilt the read ultimately left me unmoved and uncaring as to what happens to him.  My main issue with the book is Waits’s underdeveloped character, which comes because so little information is given about him, e.g. what drove him to join the police, why he uses drugs and why he made the mistakes he made.  Even his family life is sparse with the revelation of a sister coming quite late and adding nothing and given his foster home background, he’s surprisingly credulous when it comes to dealing with others.  I didn’t believe in the romance with Catherine (who is underdrawn) and Isabelle is a poor little rich girl with a predictable secret.  I did however enjoy the Bug, whose amorality and manipulative behaviour combined with his history with Waits offers a lot of promise.  Ultimately there were no surprises in the plot, the twists were easy to guess and neither Waits nor Zain Carver have enough presence to make for an interesting long-term protagonist and antagonist and if this is turned into a series I don’t think I’d continue reading but I would check out Knox’s other work.

SIRENS was released in the United Kingdom on 12th January 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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