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The breathtakingly propulsive and stunningly assured debut thriller, perfect for readers of Tana French, Don Winslow, and Dennis Lehane

The mission is suicide.

Infiltrating the inner circle of enigmatic criminal Zain Carver is dangerous enough. Pulling it off while also rescuing Isabelle Rossiter, a runaway politician's daughter, from Zain's influence? Impossible. That's why Aidan Waits is the perfect man for the job. Disgraced, emotionally damaged and despised by his superiors. In other words, completely expendable.

But Aidan is a born survivor. And as he works his way deep into Zain's shadowy world, he finds that nothing is as it seems. Zain is a mesmerizing, Gatsby-esque figure who lures young women into his orbit--women who have a bad habit of turning up dead. But is Zain really responsible? And will Isabelle be next?

Before long, Aidan finds himself in over his head, cut loose by his superiors, and dangerously attracted to the wrong woman.

How can he save the girl if he can't even save himself?

384 pages, Hardcover

First published January 12, 2017

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Joseph Knox

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 583 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,707 reviews25k followers
June 30, 2017
This is a bleak, atmospheric and compulsive debut novel by this author. It is Manchester Noir at its finest, trawling through the rain sodden and dark nights of the violent and brutal criminal underbelly of the city. The eponymous Sirens are the young women drug cash collectors from the pubs and clubs for the drug lord Zain Carver. These women have no option of leaving the trade, and are facing a short and deadly future. Aidan Waits is working undercover in this dark murky world with the aim of infiltrating Carter's empire. He is a disgraced cop caught stealing drugs. We enter a harrowing world where its often difficult to differentiate between the criminals, the police and the politicians.

David Rossiter MP has a teenage daughter, Isabelle, who has fallen in with Carver, and wants Aidan to keep an eye on her. She is often seen at the Fairview parties at Carver's home. Joanna Greenlaw was a Carver Siren who disappeared 10 years ago after agreeing to testify against Carver. Aidan gets involved with Catherine, a present day Siren who disappears after being taken by Sheldon White, a recently released Burnsider gang leader. Despite all Aidan's efforts to protect Isabelle, he finds her dead after an overdose from a toxic batch of Eight (Heroin). This in turn propels Aidan and Zain to discover the fatal repercussions in the house of horror at Sycamore. It is beginning to look as if Carver's reign as drug kingpin is being undermined and under threat. Aidan follows the multiple threads at great cost to himself and the ever increasing body count. There is deception, betrayal, heartbreak and twists.

This is an arresting debut for Joseph Knox with a totally gripping narrative. The writing is visceral, lucid and brilliant. It is tale where no one emerges unscathed and where every character is inherently flawed, including Aidan. The characters are larger than life, impressive, and well developed. I particularly liked The Bug, an astonishingly well drawn and compelling character. The picture of Manchester painted draws the reader into the immersive criminal world without ever letting the reader leave. A highly recommended read, Just superb. Thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews277 followers
March 26, 2018
I just today received the British hardcover edition of this book, now I have both the American and the British. Since I am half way through the book, I'm going to switch books. I must admit that the British edition is beautiful - a better dust jacket and the end papers are to die for. The end papers consist of the album cover of "Unknown Pleasures" by Joy Division.

As an added bonus, at the end of the novel there is an additional short story staring the books main character Aiden Waits. This appears to be an exclusive for the Waterstones exclusive edition of the book. The story is titled "The Ghosts of Deansgate".

Reviews tend to be totally subjective; one never takes into account what was recently read or which bit of undigested potato gave the reader a slight upset stomach. And tastes tend to differ. “Sirens” is the debut novel by Manchester based book buyer for Waterston’s, Joseph Knobbs, written under the pseudonym Joseph Knox.This is his first published book. As I recall the only other ‘first’ book that I was this impressed with was John Connolly’s detective series.

The story concerns Aidan Waits, a police detective in disgrace after being caught pocketing seized drugs from an impound closet. He is then forced to go undercover by his supervisor. In a subplot he is also asked to go on the trail of the runaway 17 year old daughter, Isabelle, of a rich and powerful MP (Member of Parliament). Waits is soon entangled in a web of deception involving both the establishment and brutal world of some drug kingpins.

The setting of the book is Manchester England in the winter. The detailed descriptions of everything from the weather to the city’s club scene, and the deserted warehouse buildings that exist on the edge of town totally ring true, think Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh. The city becomes a character. Aidan Waits encounters not one but multiple femme fatales. Beautiful and mysterious young women all seemingly in love with, and working for one of the drug kingpins, collecting his drug money, (The ‘Sirens’?). You never really get to truly know any of them, and neither does Aidan.

The book is divided into sections. Each section bares the title of one of the band’s Joy Division albums. Joy Division is a Manchester band. This surely speaks of influence on the work itself. The bands lead singer Ian Curtis took his own life on 18 May 1980. The book deals with suicide, drug use, corrupt cops and other controversial subjects, yet amazingly well written. The chapters are short causing the desire to read just one more.

As a bonus, in the British hardcover edition there is a bonus short story involving Aidan Waits that takes place after the events of the “Sirens” novel. He has been reinstated as a night shift patrol cop and encounters a ‘bag lady’ suffering from dementia that he tries to help. The story is a bridge to the next Aidan Waits novel
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
April 25, 2019
”I realized I’d been grateful for the madness. Without it, memories swelled, bruised and blossomed, until I thought I must be wearing them on my face like black eyes. I turned and looked out the window.

Gray Britain.”

Aidan Waits has been assigned the graveyard shift. He is still a cop, but skating on thin ice. Waits’s career has burned down to the filter, and all that remains is for his boss to let it drop to the pavement and grind out the last sparks with the toe of his tasselled shoe.

The thing of it is, those issues that make him a bad cop are the very things that are going to make him the perfect guy for an undercover mission into the sleazy Manchester underground.

Let me be more specific: a mission where he has every chance of ending up with a hot spike of juice in his arm or to be wedged into the trunk of a burning car or to be deep sixed somewhere he would never be found. Remember that guy Aidan? I wonder whatever happened to him? Did he blow town? Blow his brains out?

So his assignment is to infiltrate the charmingly urbane Zain Carver’s drug operation and keep an eye on Isabelle, the seventeen year old daughter of the MP David Rossiter. She is the kind of waif that Carver likes to take under his wing. He likes to surround himself with beautiful people like Sarah Jane. ”The truth is that she was a cruel kind of beautiful. Someone you might remember on your deathbed, wondering where your courage had been on the day you met, wondering why your courage only ever surfaced at the wrong time and for people who weren’t worth it.”

Isabelle could become Sarah Jane. At seventeen and with her pedigree, even Carver knows he might be playing with a flame too hot to handle.

Carver likes the image it conveys, sending these gorgeous women out to pick up his cash drops. He is into expensive booze, fashionable clothes, and women as glittering adornments to showcase his success.

With his rap sheet hanging around his neck by a strand of rusty barbed wire. it isn’t hard for Waits to convince Carver he is a dirty cop and that he is desperate enough to do anything he needs done. It isn’t a hard transition. Being on the wrong side of the law might be more natural for Waits than trying to be on the right side of the law.

So Aidan, can I ask you a couple of questions?

”’Do you have a drug problem?’

‘When I can’t get enough of them.’

‘So you were stealing them for yourself?’

‘No fucking comment.’”

No H for Waits. SPEED is his game.

Everything is complicated enough, and then he meets Catherine/Cath/Cat. The better one knows her, the shorter her name becomes. She is one of the beautiful girls picking up Carver’s drug money. As things go sideways and bodies start clogging up the investigation, Cat is right in the middle.

”I tried to remember everything. The sparkling drops of moisture on the table, the alcohol in the air, the half-heard conversations. The look on Catherine’s face. She was staring at the wall again now, but her eyes were filling. I wanted her to look at me, to trust me again, but I knew that she couldn’t.”

Aidan may want to protect her and may even at times think he can, but the fact is he can’t even protect himself. The only ally he has is a transvestite in a turquoise wig named The Bug, who is such a cultural icon of the underground that young men consider it an honor to get HIV from him.

The publisher is making all kinds of comparisons to Dennis Lehane and Don Winslow, which isn’t really the company that I would put Joseph Knox with. I keep catching glimpses of Raymond Chandler peering around the edges of some of those hardboiled sentences. Sometimes hardboiled can become almost campy, like say a Bernie Gunther novel, but Knox keeps his language cool and hip. The atmospheric grime and grit of Knox’s Manchester is cloying and alluringly menacing. This is Urban Noir with all the broken glass, lost souls, and trampled dreams that one would expect while taking a stroll through the underbelly of a city. I absolutely love it!

I also discovered that Joseph Knox has worked in bars and bookstores (my two favorite places to hang out) and is a voracious reader.

So in other words, he is one of us.

His lyrical and stylish prose and the deft pacing of his story have me already looking for his second book. Highly Recommended!

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for William.
676 reviews336 followers
November 28, 2019
W O W !


First novel by Knox, a Masterpiece. Utterly thrilling.

The best crime noir trilogy of all time. .

There should be a word for it. That phantom limb, reaching out from your chest, towards things you’ll never have.

Complex and very dark, painful and relentless, brutally real and noir and powerful, with superb prose... And best of all, even so young, the tragic hero is my favourite kind of gumshoe: the Philosopher-Detective. A truly extraordinary book.

Astounding that this is Knox's first novel, which took him eight years to write. Although the prose and pacing are a bit uneven in the first two chapters, Knox soon finds his true voice and then captures you and drags you along relentlessly, ever deeper, increasing in confidence, complexity and power, rushing pell-mell until the surprising denouement, an unseen resolution that's far better than I expected. Wow.

Knox's disgraced young cop Aidan Waits is savagely twisted by the unremitting greed of the powerful and the crooked, by the depraved, and so cruelly by the complicity of the beautiful, naive victims. He's betrayed most of all by his own flaws, a Greek-tragedy noir masterpiece.

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

The story is set in the dark and cold city of Manchester, itself struggling to survive the new century, and replete with beautiful and tragic young femme fatales, the Sirens, to whom we and Aidan are helplessly drawn. There are the usual brutal villains, a police commander dubiously trustworthy, a rich and powerful but distant father to the beautiful and vulnerable Isabelle, and Aidan's outrageous yet fascinating friend, "the Bug".

The primary villain has some questionable heroic qualities towards Aidan, and there are a number of secondary police and other characters of unknown loyalty and motives. All of the characters are beautifully drawn, free of cliché and completely real and alive. Even the minor characters are rendered with care and love.

There are so many quotes from Knox's wonderful prose that I'd like to share, so much passion, so much noir, but I’ve included here just a few.

From page 2, already powerful:
All I knew was where it had started, a year before. The three strikes against me and all the reasons I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t have explained the girls, the women, who had briefly entered my life. Briefly changed it. [He] wouldn’t have understood their laughs, their indignations, their secrets. For the rest of the night my eyes drifted to the people on the street, the girls, the women, and I felt like I was seeing the lives they wouldn’t live.

Page 44, Aidan meets Sarah Jane.
The truth is that she was a cruel kind of beautiful. Someone you might remember on your deathbed, wondering where your courage had been on the day you met, wondering why your courage only ever surfaced at the wrong time and for people who weren’t worth it.

Page 66, Aidan turns to booze and amphetamines, too often.
The speed made me feel omnipresent and untouchable. I was everywhere, setting a hundred different moving parts in motion. The people were just things seen from a distance. The unblinking, lit windows on a tower block.

Page 112, Aidan thinks about his childhood in the orphanage.
The male dormitory was filled with boys like me. Around my age, and all new arrivals. Now I see that the personality types –quiet, sullen, outrageous and violent –were all just different expressions of fear. I suppose mine was somewhere in the middle. I watched everything and gave away as little as possible about myself. We hadn’t been allowed to take our things with us, and I thought of the facts of my life as a kind of currency. Not valuable, but the last thing I had left to hide on my person. Only to be used in case of emergencies. It’s a bad habit I’ve never quite broken.

Page 174
The daylight was awful. It floodlit the insane, the terminally ill, turned loose again for the day, laughing and crying and pissing their pants through the streets. It was like the lights going up at last orders, turning the women from beautiful to plain, exposing the men for what they all are at their worst. Ugly, identical.

Page 187
When I started walking it was still early. I tried to disappear into the streets again, just another vagrant that your eyes scan past as you cross a road. Weak, white-grey light thawed the city, the traffic flowing again like blood in its veins. I wanted to be swept along with it and forget myself. To see my reflection warp and alter in the bottles behind a bar. I saw the same afternoon tug in other people, too. Invisible lassoes around their waists, pulling them into street-side pubs.

Page 192, Aidan meets with one of the Sirens in a pub.
‘You sound like you’re saying goodbye.’
‘Just don’t get to know me.’ She looked away. ‘It’ll be easier if you don’t get to know me.’
There was always an edge of performance with [girl], but when I think of her, when I think of the real her, I think of that night. Her hair up, that jacket, that skirt, that conflict. I felt the second drink working on me. Putting the beat back into the music, the shine back on every surface. I didn’t know what she was thinking. I didn’t know what she was trying to say. I never really got to know her.

Page 262
The dismal grey morning had turned into a dismal grey day. The pavements were blocks of ice under my feet, and I could feel the cold through the soles of my shoes. I thought about the past, the sunspots. The terrifying blackouts of my youth. I thought about never seeing my sister again. I thought about [girl]. First scared, then alone, then dead.

Page 357
It had been dark for a couple of hours. When our headlights penetrated the gloomy interiors of surrounding cars, all kinds of characters were lit up like staged vignettes. Some looked back at us, blank-eyed, wondering what kind of couple the Bug and I were. Some stared vacantly straight ahead. I felt something lurch inside me when we started up again. A part of me could have sat in that traffic for ever. The end, I thought. It’s only the end.

Last page.
Wow. Knox creates an extraordinary ending here, an incredible homage to Marlowe's lament for the girl "Silver Wig" in The Big Sleep, Chandler's last line: "... I never saw her again"... The saddest ending in all of noir, recalled deep in the heart of every one of us who has ever loved and lost
- -

I watched [her] from the window, my hand pressing hard into the glass. There should be a word for it. That phantom limb, reaching out from your chest, towards things you’ll never have. She crossed the road with wide, lovely strides, and I always wonder what she went on to. The last shred of sunlight caught her hair when she turned the corner, like the start of one thing and the end of another. The dusk itself. I never saw her again.


Joseph Knox

"My first book [Sirens] took eight years to write, and for most of that time I thought I’d never finish it..."

Joseph kindly honours my review via Twitter, 8 March 2018:
Thank you so much, William. I must admit I saw your Sirens review. Maybe the best I’ve ever had! What’s funny is you’ve picked out some of the few lines that I had to fight for. I’m just sorry that the next one will be a long old wait for you...


Knox noted:
An all-time favourite [book]? The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley. From the 70s, it feels like a new and dangerous kind of noir, and was a big inspiration for me in writing crime.

A truly fabulous evening with masters Robert Crais, Joseph Knox and Abir Mukherjee at Waterstones in Staines -

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Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,564 reviews173 followers
January 23, 2018
"Sirens" by Joseph Knox is the edgy, debut crime novel in the Detective Constable Aidan Waits series and a cracking thriller it is too!
I was totally intrigued with the start of this intense and haunting book, really keeping my attention to a point I was refusing to put it down. Gritty, sometimes brutal, dark and I imagine quite often true to life, we really see into the murky, seedy and nefarious activities that go on in the criminal world of late night Manchester.
The 'Sirens' are a network of young girls working for the 'Franchise' run by the powerful Zain Carver, collecting drug money in pubs and bars. When disgraced and damaged DC Waits is asked to help find the missing teenage daughter of MP David Rossiter he gets closer to her than he imagined and becomes embroiled in the Sirens and their gritty underworld activities. There's a lot of distrust, betrayal and flawed characters in the story and it's a superb thrilling ride to the end to see how it all pans out.
Aidan Waits is a great character too, who is far from your typical crime solving protagonist. He soon gets under your skin and it's very interesting and intriguing to read how he became the disgraced cop he is and how his double identity helps to infiltrate Carver's empire.
Fantastic narrative, brilliant writing by a very talented author, a taut and well thought out plot and an atmospheric setting make this a truly enjoyable read that I would without doubt recommend. I can't wait to read the highly anticipated "The Smiling Man" the next book to feature Waits - I just know it's going to be another cracker of a story and will be just as successful as "Sirens".
The whole 5 stars!
Profile Image for Emma.
986 reviews1,000 followers
October 10, 2019
Sometimes you pick up a crime novel and are immediately taken with the Detective, you'll follow them into the depths of Hell just to see how they get s*** done. Other times the plot weaves a web from which you can't escape, you wonder at its intricacy and cleverness, you marvel at how it tricks you. If you're lucky, you get a bit of both. Then occasionally you get one like this. And all you can think is that this is not like the others. Aiden Waits is one of those. This dark Manchester world is one of those. This author is one of those.

This is going to be on all the 'Best of' lists in 2017. Get ready.

Thanks to Joseph Knox, Random House/Transworld, and Netgalley for the chance to read this review copy. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Maureen Carden.
284 reviews70 followers
July 1, 2017
For every hit, toke, tab, line, and shot taken, someone in the background of drug dealing has died. Someone else has been enslaved, another person is forced into the sex trade, or a cop has been corrupted. The only exceptions might be homegrown in your backyard. Scoring prescriptions-just means you will most likely die. This is my background. I know this.
So does Joseph Knox as he so ably demonstrates in his outstanding debut “Sirens”. “Siren’s” dark gritty world might be different from the real world, but not by much. Knox has nailed the ugliness of the drug trade, whether it’s in Manchester, England or Jackson, Ms.
Siren’s disgraced cop Aiden Waits is given a chance for redemption by going even deeper into the circle of a notorious drug dealer. His entry card is he goes in as himself, a cop caught stealing drugs. Waits is then given the additional task of watching and reporting on the seventeen year old daughter of a politician. This is in addition to his two main tasks, discovering corrupt cops and finding out what happened to a witness who disappeared ten years ago.
Women who are part of Carver’s “charmed “circle start dying or disappearing. Waits is pretty sure he is responsible for some of this through the law of unintended consequences and spirals even deeper into self-destruction.
The threads of Waits’ separate assignments are in turn masterfully woven together or split into divergent paths, always keeping the reader on edge, turning to the next page.
Abandoned by his superiors, sought by his enemies, he turns to his one friend The Bug, who actually qualifies as two friends.
Knox dares his readers to take a dark journey that will stay with them for a long time. He is an expert tour guide of this bleak world, whether it is in describing the moral emptiness of a character, the cold heartless city or the small spark of humanity that remains inside most of us, even the empty ones.
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,470 reviews1,005 followers
September 19, 2016
Ok so I’ve been sat here for a while having no earthly idea what to say about Sirens that could possibly get across how emotionally traumatised I am right now having been put through the wringer by debut author Joseph Knox – with whom I shall be having words. Serious words. Here we are (at time of writing) gone 11pm on a Sunday night and I seriously doubt I’ll be sleeping anytime soon. Someone for the love of everything send me all the ice cream…

I can’t remember the last time I read a crime novel that was quite definitively a crime novel but at no point felt like one to me -from the opening salvo until I finally put it down my life was irrevocably linked to the lives of the characters that live within the pages, to Manchester where they reside and to the story unfolding before me. The writing is stunningly immersive, dark yet beautiful, violently gripping and the emotional resonance does not let up for a single second.

The whole thing will haunt me, I just know it will – you always know when those books come along, the ones that stay with you, this one will do that. If you are going to ask me why then the answer is no idea.

Possibly it lies with Detective Aiden Waits who outwardly is your usual damaged detective but don’t let the blurb fool you, there is nothing standard about this character. Just wait. Yes I did that.

Possibly it is the Sirens of the title – the girls who live a dangerous and knifes edge life within the drug trade – it might even be the dangerous men at the heart of THEM – maybe just maybe its the city. The living city which breathes around them.

Take your pick.

The plotting is taut and authentic, nothing is unlikely, everything is horribly gorgeously realistic but the writing talent comes often in the sparsity of prose used to create a mental image. With a few sentences Joseph Knox creates a whole world of emotion, often less is more – he hits you right in the gut dammit, not just occasionally with a twist or a turn but every blinking moment. There were times during the reading of it that I literally forgot to breathe and had to take a sudden gulp. Look now I’m back in it, where is that darned ice cream already…

For those of you reading this who know me just think back to the last few books I’ve been fanatical about and accept your fate – you WILL be reading Sirens whether you like it or not. YOU WILL THANK ME I PROMISE because…

Sirens is intense, twisted, gorgeous and heart breaking on so many levels that I cannot even begin to speak to them here.

HIGHLY Recommended.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,900 reviews535 followers
November 12, 2021
This is a very dark crime novel. I can see it as a movie directed by Guy Ritchie or Danny Boyle. The book starts with Detective Constable Aidan Waits and his partner seeing a newspaper article about the death of a 23 year old woman. Waits had met her a year ago and most of the rest of the book is a flashback to what happened then and why Waits has been permanently relegated to the night shift.

Waits has a drug problem and agrees to go undercover to avoid punishment by the police department. He is tasked with finding out who in the department is working with the Franchise, one of two local illegal drug operations. The Franchise is run by the charismatic Zain Carver who employs young women (Sirens) as his money collectors. His other task is given to him by a politician whose runaway 17 year old daughter has become involved with the Franchise.

Waits is a complex character who never seems cut out for police work. There is no explanation of what drew him to this profession. Frankly, I could see him having Carver's job. He was very at home in the criminal world. This book has drug use, sadistic murders, rival drug dealers with double dealing associates, crooked cops, shady politicians, tainted drugs and beautiful women who exist in this book only to be victims (the author loses points with me for that particular trope). The writing was tight with dialogue reminiscent of film noir movies, loose ends were taken care of and the author didn't dish out any fake happy endings. I'd be willing to read more by him.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,036 reviews690 followers
August 27, 2019
A disgraced police detective, Aidan Waits, works on the down-low for a rich man whose daughter is in the wind.  Waits is a speed freak and is more than a little fond of his drink.  There is some dark humor here, little digs and pokes that were enjoyable.  As the body count mounted, I was still looking for something new and different.  I will say there is a police "interrogation" near the end that was gripping.       

The short chapters were distracting and chopped things up into a hash that didn't really agree with me.  Don't let that deter you from checking it out, though.  There are some stellar reviews out there from trusted reviewers.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,345 followers
December 29, 2016
“After all, it's one thing to run away when someone's chasing you. It's entirely another to be running all alone.”

----Jennifer E. Smith

Joseph Knox, an English author, pens his debut crime fiction, Sirens in which the author weaves a bone-chilling and terribly horrifying yet honest tale set against the ugliest and grimy backdrop of Manchester where a disgraced police detective is blackmailed to bring back a reputed MP's teenage runaway daughter safely and discreetly from the clutches of a notorious drug seller, but within few days of investigation, the detective finds some ugly clues about another missing girl's whereabouts.


Sirens is the brooding and assured debut from Joseph Knox, the next big name in crime fiction.

Set in a sprawling, twilight northern city, Sirens introduces Aidan Waits, a disgraced young detective caught stealing drugs from evidence and subsequently blackmailed into going undercover. When an MP's daughter runs away from home, Waits is sent to track her down and finds himself at the center of a maelstrom of drugs, blackmail and deception.

Uncovering the motives of those involved, he's thrown forwards through politicians, police and drug lords - towards a conclusion and a truth he really doesn't want to know.

Detective Aidan Waits, who disgraced himself by stealing drugs from the evidence, is put to act undercover to discreetly bring a reputed MP's teenage runaway daughter back to her home and on the pretext of blackmailing from Waits' superior. Without left with much choice, Waits agrees to the proposition for which he needs to swim deep into the lair of the city's ugliest and shadiest drug alleys, where a barely seventeen year old girl, Isabel, has found solace and that too in the arms and the support of a notorious drug warlord, Zain Carver. Barely knee-deep into his investigation, Waits found disturbing links and clues to the case of disappearance of another girl who went missing 10 years ago in those same alleys. And with a distraction from a dangerously beautiful and cunning girl, it is becoming difficult for Waits to change Isabel's mind to get her safely back to her home. Can he save Isabel from becoming another victim?

All the while when I was reading this book, I was wondering, whether this is a debut book of the author. I was bowled over by the intensity, complexity and the intelligence behind such a well plotted urban noir. Right from the very first page itself, the story allured me into its core and kept a firm grip onto my mind, that I could let myself go from. Rarely I've come across such book where not only the mystery will intrigue me but the characters and their emotions too will engross me pretty much the entire length of the novel, and no wonder, this book strikingly falls into that category.

The author's writing style is excellently eloquent enough that is laced flawlessly with emotions, layers of twists and turns and so much tension, that will not once let the readers turn away their heads from this book. The narrative style of this book is fascinating and highly absorbing and it will feel like a strong drug gradually taking control over the minds of the readers. The story is arresting right from the very beginning itself, that it will constantly provoke the thoughts of the readers. The pacing is really fast and will read like a rush of an unpredictable wild west wind that will push the readers to the edge of their very seats.

The mystery is really well concocted by the author, perfectly with enough tensions and twists to make it look not only riveting but also frightening in the eyes of the readers. And not to mention, the author pens this tale with visually graphic scenes and their details that gives a thrilling edge to the story line. The author ends each chapter on the note of a suspenseful cliffhanger and that will keep the readers hooked into the story till the very last page.

The backdrop that is painted by the author gives a shockingly terrifying and vivid picture of the city of Manchester where the author reveals some ugliest truth buried behind the booming economy and the poshness of this city. The author brings alive this city with his exquisite words that the readers will find it interesting and perfectly well themed with the story.

The characters from this book are well developed with enough flaws and realism in their demeanor to make the readers connect with them. The main character, Aidan Waits, is a flawed-to-the-core human being, whose wit and intellect make the story smart and whose emotions make the story sensitive. Although Waits' past or back story is not that well crafted out, yet the readers can be able to feel a vibe of his sad past and the effect of it on his present-day investigation. Aidan will grip the readers' minds psychologically and they will comprehend with him till the very end. The supporting cast too will leave an imprint onto the
minds and the souls of the readers.

In a nutshell, this is a must read page-turning thriller that a reader needs to look out for early in the year of 2017 that will compel him/her to read the story with thick anticipation till the very unforeseeable climax.

Verdict: A worthwhile debut book of the year 2017!

Courtesy: Thanks to the author's publishers for giving me the opportunity to read and review an ARC of the book.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,940 reviews1,898 followers
February 7, 2017
All of my reviews can be found on www.novelgossip.com

I am on a roll so far for 2017, I’ve read some seriously amazing books and this may be my favorite read of the year thus far. Yes, I know we’re only a few weeks into the new year, but I don’t think time will dull my feelings about Sirens, it is a stunning debut that knocked me off of me feet and as a new voice in crime fiction, Knox is a force to be reckoned with.

Aidan Waits is not your typical crime fiction protagonist, yes he’s a detective but he is no hero and he surely doesn’t want to be one either. His life is in shambles, both personally and professionally and he has made a mess of both sides beyond repair. There is no redemption here, he’s dug his own grave and I think that’s a big part of what made him so appealing to me. He literally has nothing to lose, he drinks and takes drugs with abandon and is on the fast track to death. Sirens opens with him being picked up out of the gutter if that gives you a sense of his situation. As damaged and destroyed as he is, I found myself drawn to him. He’s dark, brooding and sullen, but there is something buried deep inside him that is whole and good and that part really spoke to me.

Often times crime fiction is described as dark and gritty, but Sirens almost redefines those words. The city of Manchester provides a perfect backdrop for the plot, its bleak atmosphere adds to the dangerous and deadly criminal underworld. I’m not going to discuss the plot here at all, but Knox is a superbly talented writer and this book is paced absolutely perfectly. I was utterly absorbed by every single page of this book and any crime fiction fans will not want to miss this massively admirable debut.
Profile Image for Ceecee.
2,078 reviews1,658 followers
September 8, 2019
3 - 4 stars. I’m a bit like a metronome with this one. 3 stars? 4 stars? My heads going backwards and forwards. Plumped for the 4 as it’s a nice day. Logic? Course not. Just means I’m in a good mood.

The central character is under cover cop DC Aidan Waits and the setting is in and around Manchester. I can’t say I find him a very sympathetic character and I don’t instinctively like him but I may warm to him in future books. He is dogged and determined and he does care about getting to the truth even if you cannot like his methods. The story is dark, gritty, twisty so usually right up my alley but at times it’s so unremittingly depressing that I confess to the loss of some interest. It’s about drugs specially heroin or eight, gangs and turf control which entails a lot of violence, and corruption. There are few characters that you can empathise with because of the nature of the book but I do like The Bug, he/she is very entertaining. I think there’s something wrong with the pacing of the story - at times it’s stalls almost to a halt and then picks up again. In the lull moments I lost interest. However, the end is good and very twisty and I didn’t see that one coming which is always good and is another justification for the 4 stars. I’ll certainly read more and it is a good debut novel.
Profile Image for Kate.
606 reviews513 followers
February 10, 2017
Sirens is an absolutely stunning book in every way. Not only is it captivating, dark and gritty, but it is also the authors DEBUT novel. Why should that be in bold?! Well let me tell you…

I’ve read a lot of books, especially crime, so I’d like to think I can spot a good one. Sirens is one of those books that don’t come round very often. It is gripping, haunting and so deliciously dark that you just wont be able to put it down. I think it is so completely brilliant that I would be surprised if it doesn’t do exceedingly well upon its release in the coming week.

Sirens, as far as titles go, is so apt for this book. Referring, in this case, to those women who lure you in and you’re caught before you even realise it. DC Aidan Waits, for all intents and purposes, answers the sirens call. This decision leads the disgraced detective further down the rabbit hole, and what follows is a truly gut-wrenching story that affects more than just his life and future.

Called in to investigate the disappearance of Isabelle Rossiter, Waits ends up on a journey painted so vividly by Knox’s words, that the reader is essentially there with him. Emotive, disturbing but ultimately an absorbing and excellent read. I couldn’t see how Sirens was going to go, but I know I didn’t want it to end.

Watch out for this one. You won’t be sorry.

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Kaila.
67 reviews49 followers
April 22, 2018
There should be a word for it. That phantom limb, reaching out from your chest, towards things you’ll never have.

3.75 stars. If there's one word to describe Joseph Knox's debut novel and the first book in the Aidan Waits series, it's grittySirens is a dark and compelling tale about the harsh realities of the drug world from the perspective of an undercover detective in far over his head. It's a tale that will stick with you far beyond the final page.

Knox has a distinctive writing style that's atmospheric in a completely different way from what I'm used to; in fact, it was off-putting at first. I had a hard time feeling immersed because it felt like I was being kept at arm's length. But as the novel progresses, it becomes clear that we have the front seat to Aidan Waits's tunnel vision as he gets tangled deeper and deeper inthe investigation that will make or break his tumultuous career. Everything from Waits's own stumbles with addiction to the unenviable lives of the siren girls flitting in and out of Zain Carver's home ... it all paints a more vivid and visceral picture than descriptions of scenery ever could.

The characters are also a bit off-putting at first. Some felt near cookie cutter to me, and now I can't tell you the first thing about many of them beyond the category they fall into: hired muscle, Zain's sirens, or questionable officers of the law. Nevertheless, distinctions beyond those lines aren't particularly important for the urban noir world Knox has created. What's important is that every character has their own flaws and ambitions; no one is perfect, and no one is safe from the chaos and destruction of the local drug gangs. I came to be intrigued by the messy, hard-to-like cast of characters pitted against the backdrop of a bleak and corrupted Manchester. The combination of the two just feels so ominous, a mood that hangs heavy over every page.

I won't say anything about the plot because it's an intricate whirlwind that needs to be experienced firsthand to be done justice. But it keeps you guessing until the very end, and it's so easy to feel like you're in Aidan's shoes as he tries to put the pieces together with the solution dangling just out of reach.

Overall, I was surprised to have enjoyed this book. I finished it feeling like it was outside my comfort zone, despite crime fiction being a favorite genre of mine, and feeling like it was missing some of the key elements that usually lead me to love a novel. So I shouldn't have liked it, and yet, Knox's writing has such a magnetic pull that I could never walk away, could barely put it down. Sirens is a novel full of sharp edges and dark corners, just as captivating as it is haunting, and I'm glad that I took a chance on Aidan Wait's dangerous, gritty world.

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Profile Image for Richard.
1,821 reviews151 followers
June 17, 2019
It is quite remarkable that this is a debut novel. Joseph Knox writes with a veteran’s style and in crisp compelling chapters that propel the action forward whilst giving little away as to the outcome.
This is an unconventional crime thriller. It is unclear who is bad and who is worse.
Detective Aidan Waits faces dismissal over some shady practises, where it is clear he mishandled evidence and might have taken some drugs away. You still feel he is ok as a leading officer and while he is under suspension this allows him to take advantage of his public humiliation to go rogue. So by being undercover it allows him to flush out a leading detective working for the main drug syndicate. No-one knows this but if he succeeds he will escape prosecution and may even keep his job in some form.
Unfortunately, Waits does very little to endear himself to the reader as unlike the conventional protagonist he takes drugs and seems out of control.
To complicate matters further a local MP approaches him as a means of finding his missing daughter who has got herself involved with Zain Carver the local drug lord whose operation Waits is trying to infiltrate and unmask the bent copper.
What on the surface appears a complex plot is so well constructed. It is presented in such a fresh way that you feel comfortable while being taken on this journey, where no-one can be taken on face value? To cross Carver is to sign one's own death certificate but Waits must front up and try to win his confidence to wheedle out their bad apple and bring his empire down.
To make matters worse a rival drug gang have been re-energised by the release of their charismatic leader and the competition appears to cloud Waits' judgement further and question his loyalties.
Waits has a weakness for recreational drugs, alcohol and women and at various times each gets in the way of his mission. However, his charm and ability to give women a sense of value, aids him as they appear to take his side and speak up for him. But nothing seemingly can protect him from the rival gang when a bad batch of heroin hits the streets and he appears to have been fitted up and left to take the fall for one death.
A fascinating novel, written with so much mystery and violence that you feel both pain and confusion. Joseph Knox writes so well and slowly peels back the different problems facing his detective that you trust him to provide credible and satisfying solutions. You fear though that even if Waits solves the corruption, saves the girl, sorts out the murder, he will still suffer himself.
With his police contact no longer able to step in, as he appears both a junkie and a murderer he will only survive if help comes from unexpected sources.
It is the journey of Aidan Waits from disgrace to murder suspect that captivates and makes this a unique story. It isn't a police procedural as he has no support within the ranks; he is working alone and despite his character flaws he must utilise charm, bluff and hard facts to stand a chance to sort out the mess.
Ultimately, he appears to work best outside of the law and completely unsuited to being a police officer. This helps make this whole adventure wonderfully rich and exciting and provides the quality few books sustain, a desire to read on and hope some characters are redeemed and remain safe.
Profile Image for Dave.
3,103 reviews353 followers
August 24, 2019
Powerful. Gripping. Heartbreaking. Dirty. Gritty. Messy. Fantastic police thriller that takes you places you never expected to go. Drugs, corruption, gang wars, missing teenage girls, undercover work. Every single page in this book is powerfully written. It is perfectly plotted and keeps drawing you further and further into the story.

The basic plot of a detective going undercover into a drug gang to find a missing girl at the behest of her rich powerful father has been lots of times before, but this story is so much more. It's a disgraced police detective popping drugs and spinning out of control. There's no one he can trust. He's out on the high wire without a net. And you can feel his emotions, his panic, his frustration in each sentence.

Absolutely terrific.
Profile Image for RG.
3,092 reviews
April 30, 2018
I started this a second time as I wasn't ready for something so bleak and dark. The themes throughout are so dark and grimy that it makes for some uncomfortable reading. The prose is so simple but elegant, with a great noirish type style. Some of Knoxs words hit heavy on the emotional scale. Dont go in expecting to read a novel about happy fun characters. Even the main character isnt someone who you really think fondly of. Aidan is down out of luck, a drinking and drug issue, and is called into a situation because of where he is on the policeforce. It takes him down a rabbit hole of drugs, partying, sex and violence but dark and seedy to the core. I felt the plot didnt really move all that quickly for me. At times I wondered if it would pick up. It had a great conclusion but had my assumptions from the start, and they loosely came true in a weird dark way. Great potential here, but dont expect a fun read or a popcorn police thriller. This is a dark and violent detective noir at its best.
Profile Image for Left Coast Justin.
417 reviews89 followers
May 30, 2021
My first thought was: Noir doesn't get any blacker than this.
My second thought was: It must be an awful fate to be born in the British Midlands
My third thought was: I hope my immunizations are up to date -- I feel like I could catch tuberculosis or hepatitis just reading this.

This was not the best book about criminals I've ever read, but it was written with enormous skill. There were a large number of moving parts, and just enough information was supplied to keep the reader from getting lost. There were no slow parts or dead patches. When I needed to be reminded of who a character was, inevitably a reminder found its way into the very next paragraph. Mr. Knox knows exactly what he's doing.

Probably the greatest compliment you can pay to a book like this is: I really need a shower. This is top-of-the-line 'classic' noir, and if it weren't for writers like Tana French upping the ante on what a crime novel could be, this would be five stars for sure.

Bravo, Mr. Knox.

Thanks to William for the recommendation

Profile Image for Rob Twinem.
853 reviews37 followers
February 11, 2017
Fast and furious but lacking soul.... Joseph Knox is one of a new breed of crime writers creating gritty stories based around the northern industrial gang ridden Manchester belt. What he does he does extremely well exposing vice and corruption in the underbelly of inner city life. Aidan Waits is a detective living on the edge quite happy to accept the odd little gift, enjoy a crafty snifter, or test the strength of his septum by sniffing copious amounts of cocaine. When his boss Superintendant Parrs confronts Waits, outlining his numerous misdemeanours, he suggests a solution that will benefit both parties. Aidan must agree to infiltrate and feedback intelligence on the activities of gang supremo Zain Carver and the only way to achieve this is to go deep undercover......
Although this is a well written story and there are many and varied characters on show in a city overflowing with illegal late night activity, it was not a novel I particularly enjoyed. I realize that this is probably the first in a new series, by a writer who some may well view as a new Lee Child or Simon Kernick, but for me as a standalone work it failed to inspire. I need my crime to be riddled with characters who appear to be strong on the surface but are consumed by doubt and indecision. I want to explore their weaknesses and to be shown how this impacts on their daily existence not only for them but for the immediate family and loved ones. I read this story in two sittings and found the content more akin to a script for a well made tv series, enough to keep me entertained but little to entice me to return. Many thanks to the publishers who in return for an honest review supplied me with a gratis copy, and that is what I have written.
Profile Image for Kaycee Bowick (Off_The_Press).
84 reviews37 followers
February 18, 2018

**This book has already been released in the UK in 2017. The US publication date of Sirens is 02/20/18. The second installment in the Aiden Waits series, The Smiling Man will be released in the US on March 8th, 2018. 

Sirens is a very unique crime thriller. The main character, Aiden Waits is not your typical cut-and-dry homicide detective that we so often see in these types of novels. Aiden is a detective with a bad track record and let's be honest.. he's a total mess.

"'Tell him it's Waits.'
He frowned. 'The kind you lift?'
'No,' said a voice from inside the room. 'The kind that drag you down. Come on in, Aiden.'"

Being on thin ice in his career, Aiden's boss considers him to be an 'expendable employee' and places him on an undercover assignment that many would consider a suicide mission. His task is to get involved with the inner workings of the Franchise, a complex drug network led by Zain Carver, a long standing drug king who has dodged the law time and time again. Knowing that he was already involved with the Franchise group, David Rossiter summons Waits to ask him (without much choice) to help locate and watch out for his daughter Isabelle, who has gotten herself wrapped up with Zain Carver and his 'associates', adding to the drama of Aiden's undercover assignment. 

You have to give it to him... Aiden is good at playing the part (almost too good). Drugs, drinking, and parties become a regular routine for him and he quickly gains the trust of Zain Carver. But soon Aiden becomes more wrapped up in the Franchise than he would have preferred, and realizes he may be in over his head.

Things I really loved about this novel:

♦ The characters and drama were very raw and authentic. While it wasn't pretty, it was realistic and captures all the ugliness that surrounds drug franchises, gang activity, and political corruption. 
♦ I could not figure out the ending until the 'big reveal'! Normally I can get some good theories flowing, but this one stumped me and everything I thought 'was'... 'wasn't'. 
♦ Knox makes readers so quickly and deeply invested in the characters and plot that this book will undoubtedly become glued to your hands!  You will not be able to put this one down!

All-in-all.. a fantastic urban noir that follows an anti-hero detective through a roller coaster of deceit, betrayal, violence, and corruption. A very entertaining read!

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a DRC of this title in exchange for an honest review!

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Profile Image for Aaron Nash.
407 reviews14 followers
February 6, 2017
This year ive decided that for a novel to be rewarded 5 stars from me it has to be something really special.

This book is superb.

Disgraced detectives are no new thing when it comes to literature. That being said, Aidan Waits is refeshingly different. After being caught stealing evidence, Waits is offered a deal, to serve time for his crimes or to go undercover. He is advised to serve the time. Once undercover Waits is thrown into the dark underbelly of manchesters drug scene, ruled by a man named Zain Carver. Carver has women spread out throughout manchesters bars collecting the money gained from his drug operations. These girls are the sirens. Among them is Isabelle Rossiter, an MPs daughter who Waits has been asked, by her father, to keep an eye on, whilst updating him on any developments. Waits job is to gain Carvers trust by playing on his disgraced detective title, and flush out the moles that Carver has working for him whilst bringing down Carver and his empire in the process.

This premise in itself would make for an interesting read, but it is far far more complex than that. After Waits finds someone dead whilst working the case, the narrative completely changes and the story branches off in several different directions. The novel is complex and yet still easy to follow. It asks a lot of questions, some of which i was convinced we werent going to get an answer too. I was reading at around the 96% mark and still needing two major questions answered. Fortunately for me they were. Knoxx takes you on a fascinating journey and the way he wraps everything up by the end is perfection.

Knoxx's writing is visceral and fast paced. Nothing is sugarcoated here. A great slice of Manchester noir by an exciting new talent. Faultless.
Profile Image for Gary.
2,674 reviews375 followers
November 3, 2020
Sirens is the debut novel by author Joseph Knox and is so good I have already committed to reading the next two books in the series. The book is so well written I found it hard to believe it was the authors first novel. This really is a book that gets better the more you read.
The story is set in Manchester and disgraced detective Aiden Watts is asked to find missing seventeen year old Isabelle Rossiter the daughter of MP David Rossiter. Drug addict Watts was caught stealing evidence and is offered the chance to redeem himself by working under cover. What follows is Watts mixing with the low life of the Manchester drug scene controlled by drug lord Zain Carver. Zain Carver rules the drug industry in Manchester and has girls known as sirens collecting his drug money around the area. Isabelle Rossiter is one of Carver's sirens and Aiden Watts will be tested to the limits to try and help her.
This is a real thriller, gritty, great characters and lots of action a real page turner.
Profile Image for Gram.
543 reviews38 followers
February 5, 2017
A very dark, very edgy tale of drug trafficking and the abuse of young women in one of England's largest cities is the subject of "Sirens". The story is told by Aidan Waits, a young police detective who is forced into going undercover in order to bring down one of Manchester's major drug dealers. Along the way he is also given the job of finding a British MP's runaway daughter. Waits' life is a shambles - he is a drug user with speed as his drug of choice and the story careers along through the clubs and party scene of the city with young women being used as collectors of drugs money for Zain Carver, the dealer who Waits and his bosses are attempting to bring down. This is not a book for the squeamish.
Profile Image for Christine.
831 reviews150 followers
July 30, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Crime by the Book.
192 reviews1,651 followers
December 3, 2017
4.5/5 stars for this sharp debut thriller! Read my full review here: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2017/1...

This book was outside of my comfort zone in many ways, but I was thoroughly impressed with it - and so glad to have given it a try. SIRENS is taut, gritty urban noir, drawing the reader into a world of revenge, loyalty, and betrayal. Knox's writing is assured and seamless - I found myself slipping easily into the world he has created here. Even if you're not a reader who typically enjoys reading about the topics covered here, it's worth giving SIRENS a close look - Knox's name is one we'll be hearing about for years to come, I'm sure!
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,252 reviews
April 17, 2018
This book knocked my socks off!
It's dark and bleak and gritty and downright nasty in places...but soooooo good.
It was like being pulled down into another dimension...rather like hell I imagine.

This is a detective story but not of the police procedural variety, more of the f**k everybody variety.

Aiden Waits is an interesting character - sometimes I liked him and sometimes I hated him but I was ALWAYS interested in what he would say and do.

There are some detective tropes here but mostly this book goes off and does its own thing.
Be warned, there is a lot of drug-taking, violence and abuse but it tells a bloody good story and will corrupt your mind if you let it.

August 4, 2018
Όσοι ακολουθείτε τους λογαριασμούς μου στα διάφορα μέσα κοινωνικής δικτύωσης, θα έχετε διαπιστώσει από καιρό πως υπήρχε ένα πολύ συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο το οποίο "διαφήμιζα", θα έλεγε κάποιος κακοπροαίρετος, υποστήριζα και ανέμενα με πάθος την κυκλοφορία του, θα έλεγα εγώ, κάτι που ανταποκρίνεται περισσότερο και στην αλήθεια. Γιατί, πραγματικά, απ' όταν διάβασα τις "Σειρήνες" προκειμένου να τις αξιολογήσω, σε ηλεκτρονικό, τότε, αρχείο, με κατέκλυσε ένας ενθουσιασμός που είχα καιρό να νιώσω, όχι μόνο για βιβλίο της κατηγορίας του, αλλά σε ένα ευρύτερο πλαίσιο. Πόσο μάλλον, βιβλίο πρωτάρη συγγραφέα. Και σήμερα, ξαναδιαβάζοντας την έντυπη, ελληνική έκδοσή του, το συναίσθημα ήταν ίδιο και απαράλλαχτο, και η αγάπη μου γι' αυτό, ναι, άλλαξε, γιατί έγινε ακόμα μεγαλύτερη.

Στον πυρήνα της ιστορίας μας, η Ίζαμπελ Ρόσιτερ, μια νεαρή κοπέλα, κόρη ενός Άγγλου πολιτικού, που έχει το κακό "συνήθειο" να το σκάει από το σπίτι της. Αυτή τη φορά, όμως, η εξαφάνισή της φαίνεται πιο περίπλοκη, αφού σε αυτήν φημολογείται πως εμπλέκονται αδίστακτα ονόματα της νύχτας που δεν θες να μπλέξεις μαζί τους. Η υπόθεση της ανεύρεσης της δεκαεπτάχρονης κοπέλας ανατίθεται στον Έινταν Γουέιτς, έναν μπάτσο που κανείς δεν έχει σε εκτίμηση στην υπηρεσία του και που δεν προτίθεται να τον βοηθήσει, με τον ίδιο να είναι βαριά κατεστραμμένος σε συναισθηματικό επίπεδο. Με απλά λόγια, ένας άνθρωπος που θεωρείται αναλώσιμος, άρα , ένας άνθρωπος που μπορεί να προσπαθήσει να εισχωρήσει στον κύκλο του εγκληματία Ζέιν Κάρβερ, με ό,τι αυτό συνεπάγεται. Ωστόσο, ο Έινταν, όσο περισσότερο βυθίζεται στον κόσμο αυτό, και όσα περισσότερα ανακαλύπτει γι' αυτό, ανακαλύπτει μυστικά που δεν περίμενε και που ανατρέπουν τα πάντα, ενώ δεν αργεί να συνειδητοποιήσει πως η Ίζαμπελ δεν είναι ένα κακομαθημένο κορίτσι, μα ένα πανέξυπνο πλάσμα που είχε τους δικούς της, πολύ σοβαρούς λόγους να εξαφανιστεί.

Το μεγαλύτερο προτέρημα του βιβλίου αυτού, είναι η ίδια η ιστορία που έχει ν' αφηγηθεί, που καθόλου τετριμμένη δεν είναι. Αντίθετα, διαθέτει μια αυθεντικότητα που σπάνια συναντάς στις μέρες μας, μα και μια ιδιαίτερη και ξεχωριστή πρωτοτυπία σε όλα τα επίπεδα της ανάπτυξή της, η οποία και επιτυγχάνει να αιχμαλωτίσει το ενδιαφέρον σου από τις πρώτες κιόλας σελίδες. Η πλοκή είναι έντονη, γεμάτη σασπένς, εκπλήξεις, αγωνία και ανατροπές, προκαλεί ποικίλα και εξαιρετικά τεταμένα συναισθήματα, όλα στο κόκκινο και ποτέ χλιαρά. Παράλληλα, είναι σφιχτοδεμένη, χωρίς αφηγηματικά κενά ή καταφυγές σε εύκολες λύσεις, ενώ διαθέτει μία ροή που "τρέχει" τόσο όσο πρέπει, χωρίς να κουράζει αλλά και χωρίς να εκβιάζει καταστάσεις , οδηγώντας τες σε μία ένταση που απλά θα είχε σκοπό να δημιουργήσει εντυπώσεις.

Από την άλλη, έχουμε έναν εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρον πρωταγωνιστή, έναν από τους καλύτερους και πιο ενδιαφέροντες που γνωρίσαμε φέτος. Έναν ντετέκτιβ που δεν σχετίζεται σε μεγάλο βαθμό, ούτε ακολουθεί το μοτίβο εκείνο που οδηγεί στο κλισέ πορτρέτο που συνηθίζουν να υπηρετούν τα σύγχρονα αστυνομικά μυθιστορήματα. Ο Έινταν είναι μεν ο αντισυμβατικός "κακός" μπάτσους, αλλά είναι κι ένας αυτοκαταστροφικός άνθρωπος που ουσιαστικά τιμωρεί τον εαυτό του. Δεν είναι ήρωας –και δεν προσπαθεί, κιόλας, να μας πείσει για κάτι τέτοιο-, έχει επιτρέψει στον εαυτό του να παρασυρθεί από κραιπάλες κι εθισμούς, όχι από αδυναμία, αλλά γιατί έτσι συντηρεί περισσότερο τη δυστυχία του η οποία, κατά βάθος, θεωρεί πως του αξίζει. Όλα αυτά τον καθιστούν ευάλωτο στα σημεία, και ίσως γι' αυτό και να είναι τόσο ελκυστικός. Επειδή έχει επιλέξει την κόλασή του, βυθίζεται όλο και περισσότερο σε αυτήν και δεν αναζητά την λύτρωση, δεν προσπαθεί να εξιλεωθεί στα μάτια μας, δεν ζητά τον οίκτο ή την κατανόησή μας, ενώ διέπεται, εκτός όλων των άλλων, από ένα αίσθημα δικαιοσύνης, από έναν προσωπικό ηθικό κώδικα που δεν μπορείς να μην εκτιμήσεις.

Η ιστορία των Σειρήνων είναι γοητευτικά διεστραμμένη, γεμάτη έντονα, αντικρουόμενα συναισθήματα, κάνει αρκετές φορές την καρδιά σου κομμάτια -και το να σε "χτυπάει" στον συναισθηματικό σου πυρήνα ένα αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα δεν είναι και τόσο συνηθισμένο-, όμως καταφέρνει να στείλει, ουκ ολίγες φορές, ρίγη ανατριχίλας στη ραχοκοκαλιά σου, παρασύροντάς σε σε μια ανάγνωση δίχως σταματημό. Παράλληλα, όμως, σε παρασέρνει και σ' έναν σκοτεινό, βίαιο και αιμοσταγή κόσμο, όπου η ανθρώπινη ζωή υπολογίζεται με τρόπους διαφορετικούς απ' αυτούς που την υπολογίζουμε εμείς, και που σε φέρνει αντιμέτωπο με εσωτερικά διλήμματα, γιατί, τελικά, το τι συμβαίνει πίσω από κλειστές πόρτες και το τι ορίζει ο καθένας μας ως ηθική, είναι πολύ σχετικό. Ειλικρινά, είχα καιρό να διαβάσω ένα αστυνομικό, ένα αυθεντικό, πηγαίο αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα, που να μην μπορούσα να το αφήσω ούτε στιγμή από τα χέρια μου. Το σίγουρο είναι πως ο Knox ήρθε για να μείνει, και πως με τη μαγική του πένα, που παντρεύει τη νουάρ αισθητική με την αγριότητα ενός όχι και τόσο γνωστού, μα τόσο βίαιου, υπόκοσμου, θα μας χαρίσει πολλές, γοητευτικές, σκοτεινές ιστορίες.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,195 reviews114 followers
December 1, 2019
Broken and tormented, disgraced cop Aidan Waits makes for a very compelling lead in this debut crime noir. More schmoozer than bruiser, he's raw and audacious to a fault, ready to risk it all to do what he thinks right, consequences be damned, especially if an innocent lady is involved.

Things get messy as Waits goes undercover in Manchester's dark, seedy underworld, caught up with a drug ring and a troubled underage runaway. The story draws you down into the mess and stink of the gutter, as a conflicted and harrowed Waits gets too close and begins to lose perspective.

My main gripes are that many of the characters felt a bit hollow and that some of the context which I felt would have been important to expose was absent or glossed over. Perhaps that can be chalked up to the shortcomings one might expect in a debut novel, even from a clearly talented and skilled author such as Joseph Knox.
Profile Image for Lucy.
417 reviews625 followers
April 22, 2018
A very interesting protagonist to the story. Detective Waits is a character that I haven't ever read before and has characteristics you do not usually have from a Detective so this was refreshing.
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