by Joseph Knox
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.
Detective Aidan Waits has been caught stealing drugs from evidence and as a result he is compelled to take an undercover job to find the police officers who are on the payroll of drug dealers, and monitor politician’s daughter, Isabelle Rossiter, and keep her safe. This takes him into a seedy world of drug dealers, corrupt policemen and dodgy politicians.
The Sirens of the title, are the girls who collect drug money from the bars, for drugs Overlord, Zain carver, who runs the show in this area of Manchester: Joanna Greenlaw was a Siren until she went missing 10 years ago. When a bad batch of heroin hits the streets people start dying and girls go missing again. Aidan is floundering between two worlds and he realises nothing is as it seems.
This book takes you from the gutter, to the top of the Hilton Tower and back again. It has an excellent cast of characters, complex, flawed and totally authentic. Aidan Waits is a detective with his own problems, which might sound cliched but he’s anything but. A hard man with a heart; he has no luck whatsoever. As the book goes on you just want something to go his way, for him to be a winner. Yet you feel that there can be no winners in this story of violence and power, where the casual cruelty takes your breath away, but at the same time feels all too real.
One of the biggest characters in the book is Manchester. Joseph Knox totally brings the place to life and, as someone who lives in Manchester, I feel he absolutely gets the place and its people. Fog Lane will never be the same to me again.
The dialogue crackles along in a style reminiscent of Raymond Chandler and the plot moves at a relentless pace, not giving much chance to pause for breath and no chance to want to put it down. The short chapters add to the momentum.
Very occasionally a book comes along that redefines a genre, it’s very possible that this could be one of those books. It is an utterly brilliant debut novel; dark, gritty, menacing and meaningful.
A must-read for all crime fans.
Many thanks to Martin Myers of Penguin Publishing for providing me with a copy.