Author : Joseph Knox
Title : The Smiling Man
Series : DC Aidan Waits #2
Pages : 416
Publisher : Transworld Digital
Publication date : March 8, 2018
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.
Sometimes I wish I could get away with a one sentence review. This one would say : Drop whatever it is you’re doing and grab yourself a copy of this right now!
When I read Sirens last year, I wanted to shout about its awesomeness from the rooftops. I didn’t have a blog yet at the time, but that book was one of the reasons I started considering one. From the setting to the fabulous cast of characters, from the writing to the plot, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the fact that Sirens was a debut. But I did know that Joseph Knox was an author to watch and with The Smiling Man, he firmly cements his spot amongst the best crime thriller writers because this one is even better than the first one!
If you’ve read Sirens (and if not, you really should), then you know Aidan Waits has some serious issues. He’s flawed, damaged and most definitely not your typical detective hero material. Aidan is currently working the nightshift, sinking his teeth into incredibly fascinating investigations like … dustbin fires. Until there’s a call from The Palace, a former hotel, currently empty awaiting new owners.
A body has been found. A body that yields no clues whatsoever. No identification, tags removed from clothing, teeth filed down and replaced and even the fingerprints have been removed. Who is this man and how did he end up at the disused hotel? As Aidan and his partner Sutty try to figure things out, Aidan’s past comes a-knocking as well and he is forced to face his demons. This gives the reader the chance to get to know Aidan better, know where he’s coming from and why he turned out the way he did. It’s not pretty.
I found myself gripped from the first page, so utterly immersed that the outside world ceased to exist. Yet again, Joseph Knox delivers a gritty, compelling and dark story that has left me begging for more. And somehow, between all the disturbing things people do, I found myself chuckling at the humour and sarcasm. While the various threads may seem disconnected at first, they come together perfectly and the varied cast of characters is so life-like, you almost expect them to jump out of the pages. The Smiling Man has a taut and complicated plot with the setting again almost being a character all on its own. I could hear the sounds, smell the scent of summer and feel the heat.
Joseph Knox is an incredible talent and if you are not reading the Aidan Waits series, you are missing out immensely! This is a deeply engrossing page-turner, one I knew would cause a massive book hangover. I felt sad when I got to the last page and realised I had a long wait for the next book in this series. I can’t bloody wait!
Like I said at the start : Drop whatever it is you’re doing and grab yourself a copy of this right now!