Friday 30 March 2018

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox @josephknox__ @DoubledayUK @alisonbarrow @TransworldBooks #TheSmilingMan #Giveaway #Win

From the bestselling author of Sirens, Detective Aidan Waits is on the hunt to find the identity of The Smiling Man.

Disconnected from his history and careless of his future, Detective Aidan Waits has resigned himself to the night shift. An endless cycle of meaningless emergency calls and lonely dead ends. Until he and his partner, Detective Inspector Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe, are summoned to The Palace, a vast disused hotel in the centre of a restless, simmering city. 

There they find the body of a man. He is dead. 

And he is smiling.

The tags have been removed from the man’s clothes. His teeth filed down and replaced. Even his fingertips are not his own. Only a patch sewn into the inside of his trousers gives any indication as to who he was, and to the desperate last act of his life…

But even as Waits puts together the pieces of this stranger’s life, someone is sifting through the shards of his own. 

When the mysterious fires, anonymous phone calls and outright threats escalate, he realises that a ghost from his own past haunts his every move. 

And to discover the smiling man’s identity, he must finally confront his own.

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox was published by Doubleday / Transworld on 8 March 2018 and is the second in the Aiden Waits series. I read and reviewed the first book; Sirens, here on Random Things  in January 2017. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have a beautiful hardback copy of The Smiling Man to give away to one blog reader. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget at the end of this post. The competition will stay open for seven days and is UK ENTRY ONLY.   Good luck!

For me, the sign of a great read is when my copy of the book is bursting with post-it stickers. I used a lot of post-its on this book, in fact there's so many that I have had difficulty in choosing specific phrases to concentrate on.

I adored Joseph Knox's first book, Sirens, and had waited with great anticipation for the next book. Well, if Sirens was great, this one is excellent. I was gripped, completely engrossed from page one.

Joseph Knox is such a competent author; The Smiling Man is urban noir at its very best. The Manchester setting is dangerous and grubby, filled with characters who will haunt your dreams. The story has multiple threads; there's the 'smiling man' of the title; found dead in a disused hotel. Also in there is revenge porn and a stalker, and then there's the mysterious plot line that appears every now and again telling of a small boy and how he's being turned to crime by his family.  A reader could be overwhelmed by the many layers that at first, seem unconnected, but this author weaves and joins with such ease and flair and as the plots progress, the entire story just falls together perfectly.

For me, Joseph Knox's hugest talent is in his character descriptions;
" ..... revealing a narrow bone-white face and a frown. She had short, black hair, gleaming dark marbles for eyes and an almost invisible little paper-cut for a mouth."
"He had a face full of age, hate and booze, and I counted three golden teeth before he closed his mouth again."
"After weeks of unbroken heat he was starting to look and smell like the larval stage for something else entirely"

se characters, so perfectly created, so unexpected and so life like have been living inside my head for the past few days.

The Smiling Man brings us an Aiden Waits who has learned much from the events that made up the story in Sirens. He still has his demons, he's still resented by many of his colleagues and he's still trying to shrug off his addictions and lost love. However, he has shifted and his tenacity and newly emerging self-belief is at the forefront. As Aiden's past is slowly revealed too, the reader can do nothing but fall a little more in love with him despite his recklessness.

The Smiling Man is tightly woven, the plot is complex but hugely satisfying and the sparks of the darkest of humour that flash intermittently throughout add a sparkle that is quite magical.
The characters that populate this story are some of the darkest and most grubby to be found in crime fiction, and that does include the police. Aiden's partner Sutty is a marvellous creation; obsessed with cleanliness but full of dirty tricks and with no apparent compassion or humour.

Set during the searing heat of Summer with Manchester emerging as a character in its own right, The Smiling Man is a modern, dark and suspense filled novel. Joseph Knox is so observant, his writing is fierce, unsettling and so very atmospheric.

Roll on the next in the series, I'm missing Aiden Waits already.

The Smiling Man

Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke-On-Trent and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively.

Sirens is his debut novel. His second, The Smiling Man, was released in March, 2018.

Follow him on Twitter @josephknox__

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