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 centre 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.
What a ride! I loved this book and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it. The first thing I did when I got to the end was asking the author, Joseph Knox, if there would be a sequel. Because this feels like the start of an amazing series.
Sirens is an incredibly strong debut and it’s also completely different from my most recent reads. It is not a psychological thriller, it is not a police procedural per se… and it’s not a small-town mystery. Sirens is a dark and gritty noir set in Manchester, and it was fantastic. I’ve read books like this one before (Dennis Lehane’s were the first that came to my mind), but it had been so long that I had almost forgotten how much I love this genre. Now I need to read something much lighter, though.
Sirens won’t be a book for everyone: don’t expect a simple mystery and only one bad guy. The plot is so complex that you will need some time to process all the information. There are even flashbacks that I hope we can explore a bit further in the next installments. And it’s not an easy read either, as it deals with some dark topics: drugs, abuse, multiple deaths… Not your typical Christmas read.
Aidan Waits is our main character and he’s a pretty fascinating one. Don’t worry, he’s the classic tortured detective: he’s flawed, he drinks and does drugs, and he doesn’t live a healthy life. But I was rooting for him since the beginning, as you could see he was a good guy underneath it all. And I loved his relationship with another peculiar character that appears later in the story. Because every tortured detective needs a bizarre friend.
Femme fatales, drug lords, dirty politicians… Sirens has all the right ingredients to become a classic noir novel, and it doesn’t disappoint. The plot is twisty and unpredictable, although I admit it felt a bit “too much” at certain parts. Like, can things go well for once? Waits can’t seem to catch a break… Let him be happy for one day!
This book left me exhausted, but in a good way. I was so immersed in Sirens‘ world that I even dreamt about drug dealers and corrupt detectives. I’m such a romantic.