Sirens -Joseph Knox (Transworld Publishers)

Josef Knox, sirens, Manchester Noir, Crime novel
Josef Knox’s debut novel ‘Sirens’ (Transworld Publishers)

Review by Katie Frankland

Set in a cold, grey, eerie Manchester, “Sirens” introduces Adrian Waits, an unfortunate Detective with a menacing past and hopeless future. His present isn’t too promising either as he is pushed into the ugly, brutal darkness of the city’s criminal underground. Assigned to work on a solo, covert mission to investigate the whereabouts of a missing politician’s daughter, he positions himself well within the domain of the city’s chief racketeer, Zain Carver, soon finding himself caught up in an all too real, crooked world far from police protection.
Intoxicated by the Sirens, the bold, beautiful, go-between girls mediating Carver’s drugs trade, Waits quickly becomes attached and his desire to save these women from their circumstances makes for an ever tougher battle. As he puzzles his way through the city through a maze of intertwined incidents and connected characters, the girls are his beacons keeping him on the right path. Albeit a journey of self-destruction, as he recalls his past and abandons his future.
His present situation manifests through intensely dark scenes, filled with gruesome facts and brutal description. The reader is given enough of the story, but not too much, allowing you to fill in your own blanks with feelings and emotions as you endure the experience with Waits – the weight of each challenging interaction, of each exhausting episode, of each unexpected encounter intensifying. There is a shared feeling of despair but also desire to go on and the hope of a better outcome.
The final chapters see a culmination of these events weighing down on Waits, as he is left with little energy and fight about him. An appropriate ending to an exhausting set of affairs. A crime-thrilling concoction of sex and drugs, gangs and gangsters, good cops and bad cops…and one man fighting to reveal all.
With characters a plenty, the good, the bad and the ugly ones, it’s still difficult for Waits to find a friend in a field of foes. As a result, he calls upon an established and trusted contact from his past; not quite a friend but more an acquaintance. This unusual friendship which begins as a business deal hints later at a deeper connection and potential companion in the making. Introducing this character brings a bit of relief to the reader, knowing that Waits has a somewhat-sidekick to support him through his current torment and struggles.
With some similarities to Ian Rankin’s younger, more naïve, inexperienced John Rebus, it’d be interesting to see the character of Waits develop, his personal and professional relationships mature, his forgotten past explored, and his future look brighter. Personally, I didn’t want his story to end.

Read more about Katie in our People Section or have a look at her blog Grab A Line


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