Just when you thought the trope of the world-weary cop with the messed-up life was getting tired, along comes the disturbing and original vision of Joseph Knox.
In The Smiling Man, DC Aidan Waits is exiled to the night shift, paired with an unappealing and idle DI, the unfortunately named Peter Sutcliffe (who understandably prefers to be known as Sutty). He is condemned to rounding up drunks and mundane tasks, like investigating a series of fires in rubbish bins.
Then Aidan is first on the scene of a bizarre death in a closed-down hotel. His superiors want him off the case but he can’t seem to leave it alone. Meanwhile, his troubled past is catching up with him. His present isn’t looking too good either.
In the best noir tradition, Aidan has a complex moral code. Acts of quiet heroism are interspersed with blatant law-breaking and reckless self-sabotage. He operates in a world of corruption and political manoeuvring where everyone has an angle and power is there to be abused.
This is fantastic northern noir, relentlessly downbeat, darkly funny, with flashes of startling imagery. Knox has created a world that is both unmistakably Manchester and uniquely his own.
I received a copy of The Smiling Man from the publisher via Netgalley.
View The Smiling Man on Goodreads
Enjoyed this? Take a look at my review of London Rules by Mick Herron