There are only really three things that I know for sure after having read this book:
- I will probably think twice before I ever volunteer to visit Manchester.
- I will never understand why some people would choose to take drugs
- I should think twice before opting to take such a gruesome crime novel with me whilst I’m on holiday
Joseph Knox spins a tale about a detective who has gone undercover to investigate some kind of drug cartel in Manchester and at the same time to look into the disappearance of an MP’s teenage daughter.
Detective Aiden Waits is a shady character at best, and he comes close to answering the age old question about whether a cop and a criminal are two sides of the same coin. If you spend the majority of your time trying to think like a criminal, how much more can you take before you are unable to distinguish yourself from the people whose crimes you’re trying to stop?
The good detective made some phenomenally bad choices throughout this book; he wasn’t the kind of main character I could really get behind on. He alternated between being stupidly arrogant and pitifully weak; he couldn’t figure out what was really going on until the last possible minute (neither could I, but I’m not a detective) and he almost seemed to play into the hands of the true perpetrators for about 70% of the book. So, no, he wasn’t the strongest point of this story.
The development of the rest of the supporting characters, however, fairly overshadowed that of Detective Waits. It takes much for me to sympathise with drug dealers and corrupt officials, but Joseph Knox did such a good job of showing their different backgrounds without bogging the story down. He offers no excuses for their actions, merely asking the readers to empathise and understand the life choices that have brought them to their present circumstances.
Its easier to judge people from behind glass houses, not so easy when you’re knee deep in shite with no other way out. We are all, I think, victims of our personal circumstances. Some of us just do better at rising against bad circumstances than others. But if you put yourself in other people’s shoes for a moment and think about how your own life could have been so different if you had to walk a mile in their shoes…you wouldn’t be so quick to judge.
The twists and turns of the story happened at breakneck speed; its such a page-turner that I finished it in a day (the weather was bad and I could not go to the beach as planned). Everything was set against the horrifyingly detailed backdrop of the underbelly of Manchester; Joseph Knox had no qualms about describing the city’s drug scene in all its glory, making me question just how much truth went into this and if so, that must have been some harrowing months of research (although I think I read somewhere that he grew up in Manchester).
The inevitable payoff and solving of the mystery was a little bit anti-climactic; I don’t think the ending was as satisfying as I would have liked. No one was really given an ending, and I’m not sure justice was really served in the end. But I guess that’s the reality of life isn’t it? The good guys don’t always win and the bad guys sometimes go free. Life goes on either way.
Overall, this was a good read! 3 out of 5 stars.
P.S. I think the play on the word ‘Sirens’ and its different meanings as the story progressed was very very clever. I would love to hear what you guys think!