The Smiling Man

This powerful sequel to Joseph Knox’s debut Sirens is razor sharp with blunt-talking northerners, is literary but spiked with page-turning ferocity, contains tragedy laced with hope and features a convincing cop who gets justice both in and outside of the law. DC Aidan Waits goes back on the beat, dumped in the dustbin of the night shift with his odious and witty partner DI Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe. When they go on a shout to the disused hotel, The Palace, they discover an injured night watchman on the third floor and a corpse wearing a smile on the fourth. You might think that a noir novel featuring a disfigured corpse, child trauma, sexual abuse and terrifying characters from hell would not be a book for those faint of heart. However Knox’s skill is to take us to those dark places without explicit and ‘look away now’ violence – to the darker natures we recognise in everyday people and their lives. Read our full review here.

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