Sirens was published on 12 January 2017 by Transworld Digital and is available to buy here
It starts with the girl. How it ends is up to DC Aidan Waits.
Isabelle Rossiter has run away again.
When Aidan Waits, a troubled junior detective, is summoned to her father’s penthouse home – he finds a manipulative man, with powerful friends.
But retracing Isabelle’s steps through a dark, nocturnal world, Waits finds something else. An intelligent seventeen-year-old girl who’s scared to death of something. As he investigates her story, and the unsolved disappearance of a young woman just like her, he realizes Isabelle was right to run away.
Soon Waits is cut loose by his superiors, stalked by an unseen killer and dangerously attracted to the wrong woman. He’s out of his depth and out of time.
How can he save the girl, when he can’t even save himself?
Sirens is the much hyped dark urban debut by Joseph Knox. There are quite a few exciting authors coming out of the north, like Marnie Riches and A. A. Dhand. It is good to seek out more. Joseph Knox gives us a raw taste of the violence and brutality of the hidden drugs side of the Mancunian metropolis.
The story focuses on a police officer gone bad. An anti hero. A man who walks on the dark side. It is Aiden Waits, a drug addict undercover cop and general waster working to track down a missing MP’s daughter. He is infiltrating the drugs scene. Waits gets to the heart of the drug empire to Zain Carver, the man who runs the show. Carver is the owner of an array of clubs in the city. He has a gang of girls who collect the drugs money for him. They are the sirens. When a teenage girl is found dead thanks to some toxic heroin in her bloodstream, Carver and Waits join forces.
I was slightly confused about the setting in Sirens. We are supposed to believe this is Manchester, yet it seems like a very pale weak version. A generic northern bleak city. Where was the thriving LGBTQ scene, the diverse ethnic groupings, the wealthy areas, the university students? In A. A. Dhand’s Streets of Darkness, we get a real feel for the misery of the drugs scene, together with the colourful diversity within Bradford. I was disappointed that we got so little of the real Manchester in Sirens. I couldn’t believe the author knew the city at all.
Waits is very much a character with potential. I enjoyed the way he weaved through the sadness and the lost souls of the city. I couldn’t help thinking that something special was missing there, some spark. Probably lost due to his drugs and alcohol problems. He really should have been more edgy. He was as gloomy as the wet landscape and slightly flat. I really would have liked to hear more of his voice, more of his anguish and conflict.
Sirens is dark northern noir, in a highly readable style. It is a promising debut, not particularly brilliant. It has its flaws. I would be interested to see if Joseph Knox has more Mancunian tales for us. I think as a start to a series, it has potential.