Reviewing Joseph Knox’s Sirens

Sirens was a book recommended to me by a friend. He praised the plot and the characters, telling me only enough to get me interested. So when he offered me his copy I took it and started to read. Sirens is the story of Detective Aidan Waits who after he is caught stealing drugs from evidence is blackmailed into an undercover operation. He spends his nights following The Franchise, a clever gang run by a very interesting man, but when he is asked to help David Rossiter, a very powerful MP, keep tabs on his teenage daughter who is now part of The Franchise everything changes and nothing for the better.

This review is going to be as spoiler free as possible but I will be talking about the plot and the characters – enjoy!

Aidan Waits’ mission (he has no choice but to accept it) seems simple. Make sure Isabel Rossiter is safe. She is now a siren, one of the many young women who work for The Franchise going from bar to bar collecting drug money. Each siren lives under the shadow of Joanna Greenlaw who we learn very early on was going to testify against The Franchise before she vanished. That was 10 years ago. As Sirens progresses Franchise members begin to die and a toxic strain of their drug hits the market. Aidan Waits finds himself caught up in all these strands: who does he owe is loyalty to – The Franchise the police, the sirens, or himself?

I found Sirens very hard to put down. The plot was gripping, the characters very interesting, and I really (really) wanted to know what was happening. Sirens is set in Manchester and through Aidan Wait’s first person narration we experience all aspects of the city from the squalor to the prestige. This is a book where the city does have a starring role and I wonder if I could have enjoyed it even more if I was more familiar with the city and the places Knox wrote about. Nevertheless the descriptions of the city really grounded Sirens for me and as horrible as most of the stuff that happens in the book is, I could imagine it happening.

The very start of Sirens was disorienting because we were right in the middle of the action. As criticisms go this might be my only one because I enjoy reading a little bit of back story before getting stuck into the action. But this certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying it and there was plenty of backstory as Sirens progressed. I am usually very critical over endings where an author has to resolve numerous plot threads and instead of something which matches the amazing build up, is and the ending is all kinds of boring an lackluster in comparison.

Sirens definitely had multiple plot points and Knox excellently built up the tension, so as the ending got closer and closer I was worried that it was just going to be pants. Wonderfully it wasn’t! There were two twists at the very end – the first was clever and simple and I should have seen it coming. The second though is why I am very excited for the sequel and annoyed I am going to have to wait for so long to get my hands on it. This twist was so brilliant – I didn’t see it coming at all yet when it did was so obvious.

When I started Sirens I thought Detective Adan Waits was going to be the same sort of character you always find in detective novels, and poor, misunderstood white detective as a trope is so dull. While he those things as well as alcoholic, there is also a lot more to his character and as I read more and more of Sirens I empathised with him more and more. By midway I wanted him to win, save the day, and have all the money. The secondary characters were all so well fleshed out and because it was all told through Aidan Wait’s point of view there was his brilliant commentary added to them all.

I loved Sirens and when I saw my friend again and told him that I had finished we had a very satisfying discussion on the details of the novel. I almost never dissect books once I finish them but with Sirens I really wanted to talk to someone about it!

Sirens by Joseph Knox is out on the 12th of January 2017. I am positive that before then you’ll be hearing a lot about it but if you love grittier crime novels then definitely keep this one in mind / pre-order it now! It’s fantastic.

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