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'Packing a punch from the very first page. You will love The Smiling Man' Jane Harper, author of The Dry From the bestselling author of Sirens, Detective Aidan Waits is on the hunt to find the identity of The Smiling Man. Disconnected from his history and careless of his future, Detective Aidan Waits has resigned himself to the night shift. An endless cycle of meaningless em 'Packing a punch from the very first page. You will love The Smiling Man' Jane Harper, author of The Dry From the bestselling author of Sirens, Detective Aidan Waits is on the hunt to find the identity of The Smiling Man. 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.


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'Packing a punch from the very first page. You will love The Smiling Man' Jane Harper, author of The Dry From the bestselling author of Sirens, Detective Aidan Waits is on the hunt to find the identity of The Smiling Man. Disconnected from his history and careless of his future, Detective Aidan Waits has resigned himself to the night shift. An endless cycle of meaningless em 'Packing a punch from the very first page. You will love The Smiling Man' Jane Harper, author of The Dry From the bestselling author of Sirens, Detective Aidan Waits is on the hunt to find the identity of The Smiling Man. 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.

30 review for The Smiling Man

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Manchester is a vibrant city, but like all major cities there's a darkness at it’s heart, and nowhere is this more visible than on the night shift which Detective Aidan Waits and his partner DI Peter Sutcliffe 'Sutty' inhabit. After a somewhat dubious lifestyle, including drug abuse, an uncontrollable temper and other misdemeanours, Aidan is resigned to working the night shift with a partner he can't stand, and just for the record, the feeling is mutual. When they receive a call to attend a break Manchester is a vibrant city, but like all major cities there's a darkness at it’s heart, and nowhere is this more visible than on the night shift which Detective Aidan Waits and his partner DI Peter Sutcliffe 'Sutty' inhabit. After a somewhat dubious lifestyle, including drug abuse, an uncontrollable temper and other misdemeanours, Aidan is resigned to working the night shift with a partner he can't stand, and just for the record, the feeling is mutual. When they receive a call to attend a break-in at a local disused hotel, it proves to be anything but routine, as a security guard has been attacked with a fire extinguisher and left unconscious, but far worse, they discover a dead man sitting in a chair on the fourth floor - and he's smiling! The man has no ID on him, all tags have been removed from his clothing, his teeth have been filed down and replaced, but the most intriguing discovery is that his fingerprints have been removed! I'm not going to give anything away other than that, but if you decide to read The Smiling Man, you will be richly rewarded with an intelligent, well written novel, where the characters come fully fleshed with some extremely entertaining dialogue, displaying sarcasm in spades, but oh boy the humour is just wicked! Of course Aidan Waits is flawed but don't the flawed personalities just make things much more interesting? Discrepancies between suspect/witness accounts lead eventually to a very unusual and unexpected conclusion. The plot is intense and complex, and will require your full attention, but for me, it was definitely worth the investment. * Thank you to Netgalley, Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for my ARC, for which I have given an honest review*

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Sensational and Stunning Manchester Noir! Joseph Knox follows the brilliant Sirens with this incredible sequel that throws light on the flawed DC Aidan Waits devastating and dark history. Waits has been condemned to the never ending night shifts in the midnight city with the trying DI Peter 'Sutty' Sutcliffe, a man obsessed with continually wiping everything with his antiseptic tissues in the sweltering heat. Trash cans are being set alight, and an alt-right journalist, Oliver Cartwright is thre Sensational and Stunning Manchester Noir! Joseph Knox follows the brilliant Sirens with this incredible sequel that throws light on the flawed DC Aidan Waits devastating and dark history. Waits has been condemned to the never ending night shifts in the midnight city with the trying DI Peter 'Sutty' Sutcliffe, a man obsessed with continually wiping everything with his antiseptic tissues in the sweltering heat. Trash cans are being set alight, and an alt-right journalist, Oliver Cartwright is threatening to post a sex video of Sophie, a student he met at the Innuendo club. Waits tries to resolve Sophie's problem unofficially, only to be warned off Cartwright by Superintendent Parr. Then Waits and Sutty are called to the closed down, dilapidated Palace Hotel where the body of an unidentifiable murdered man is found on the fourth floor with a rictus smile on his face. A parallel storyline runs in the narrative where a young boy, Wally, is being terrifyingly abused and exploited to commit criminal and deadly acts by a sadistic and evil man involved with his mother. Wally's overriding fear is that he will turn his attention to his more sensitive younger sister. The recession is biting deep in Manchester, igniting boom times for the drug trade, as people look to more affordable ways to escape their misery. The current in vogue drug is 'spice', aka rattle, leaving a trail of death and horror in its wake. There are thousands of deaths of unidentified people, referred to as the missing missing, and rumours of a serial killer, The Pusher. A witness to the death of smiling man, a prostitute, Cherry, is murdered and fished out of the Manchester Canal. The owners of the Palace Hotel, Natasha Reeves and Freddie Coyle, an estranged married couple, appear to have attracted a malign presence into their lives, with the singular purpose of bringing trouble to their doorstep. Waits is getting strange anonymous calls, being followed and receiving threats as his past rears its ugly head, bringing with it life threatening dangers and brutal violence. And if all that is not enough, he is reviled by other police officers, contemptuous of his history with drugs, convinced of his corruption, unwilling to let him get involved in investigations. As his travails look set to bury him, Waits is forced to seek help from the dangerous Zain Carver, and the Thin Man. Knox gives us an outstanding novel about identity, both The Smiling Man's and Aidan Waits, our flawed and utterly compelling protagonist. Looming large throughout is the strong sense of location that Knox gives us in Manchester, experiencing unusually uncomfortable heat, and where under cover of the night the darkest of deeds and crime proliferate. Waits is an inspiring complex creation, drowning in the wreckage of his life and history, but propelled by an inner need for justice, prepared to break the law to attain it as he crosses lines with impunity, and unwilling to be constrained by those who seek to control him. Crime noir does not get any better this, just simply brilliant and you need to read this! Many thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)

    Oh wow!!!!........ I thought "Sirens" was good but "The Smiling Man" is on an even higher level entirely! Gripping, compelling, thrilling and addictive.......I could go on, but basically I couldn't put it down it was so captivating. I seemed to be taking this book with me everywhere in order to snatch five minutes with it. After reading the initial, intriguing and shocking opening prologue I knew this was going to be a book that kept my attention from the start to the fantastic finish. "The Smili Oh wow!!!!........ I thought "Sirens" was good but "The Smiling Man" is on an even higher level entirely! Gripping, compelling, thrilling and addictive.......I could go on, but basically I couldn't put it down it was so captivating. I seemed to be taking this book with me everywhere in order to snatch five minutes with it. After reading the initial, intriguing and shocking opening prologue I knew this was going to be a book that kept my attention from the start to the fantastic finish. "The Smiling Man" is the second in the Detective Aidan Waits series with "Sirens" being the first and I have been waiting with bated breath to read this follow up. Detective Aidan Waits and his night shift partner Detective Inspector Peter 'Sutty' Sutcliffe are summoned to the disused Palace Hotel in Manchester City. There they find a man. He is dead and he is smiling. With no evidence to indicate who the smiling man is, can Waits piece together the events leading to his death and discover the man's identity? However, anonymous phone calls and outright threats lead Waits to also believe that a ghost from his own past is out to frighteningly reconnect with him. Most of the characters are very flawed, ingeniously created though and therefore not your typical crime solving protagonists. Normally these type of characters aren't liked but strangely Waits and Sutcliffe really do work and I did love their working relationship albeit antagonistic and sardonic. This book would work perfectly well as standalone though I still recommend reading "Sirens" as it's an excellent book in itself. Very much adult thrillers, these are packed with hard hitting, brutal and sadly true to life activities centred around the criminal underworld of late night Manchester. Real eye opening revelations that were so descriptive I actually felt I was standing in the middle of Manchester following Waits at work. I have fast become a major fan of the talented Joseph Knox, his storytelling is so professional, intelligent, realistic and addictive with fantastic narrative and I really can't wait to see what's next in store for Aidan Waits, he's got right under my skin and I seriously cannot recommend this book and the series enough! Both books are brilliant examples of literary Manchester noir and have just GOT to be read! Fabulous!! LOVED it! 5 stars and more!

  4. 4 out of 5

    William

    W O W ! A supernova masterpiece. Ten Stars again! The best crime noir trilogy of all time. . Even more dark, powerful and complex than his first book ... and it works! Everything works beautifully. The story is a finely crafted demon Swiss watch. There is astounding power and confidence here, incredible pacing and prose. Two books and Knox is already A Master. Warning: Child peril/abuse in the flashback chapters of the monster Bateman (view spoiler)[and the terrified little Aidan at 8 years old (hi W O W ! A supernova masterpiece. Ten Stars again! The best crime noir trilogy of all time. . Even more dark, powerful and complex than his first book ... and it works! Everything works beautifully. The story is a finely crafted demon Swiss watch. There is astounding power and confidence here, incredible pacing and prose. Two books and Knox is already A Master. Warning: Child peril/abuse in the flashback chapters of the monster Bateman (view spoiler)[and the terrified little Aidan at 8 years old (hide spoiler)] . All are extraordinarily heartless and brutal. You can skim all of them if you wish, but do fully read the critical chapter VI.6 and the subsequent Bateman chapters. Knox continues the noir atmosphere of beautiful and vulnerable young women: Sophie, Alicia, Amy, Aneesa, Karen, Naomi (Constable Black), and the buzz of beautiful young and penniless students, perhaps doomed. Aidan cannot help himself, he's fated to forever be a moth to their flames. In this, Knox understands our hearts, young and old. There should be a word for it. That phantom limb, reaching out from your chest, towards things you’ll never have. (from "Sirens") A lifetime of windmills will never change the gallantry and heroism of Aidan regarding beautiful young women. There are more windmills than we can ever conquer. I know. I still sometimes charge at them, holding back the tears. There are so many quotes from Knox's wonderful prose that I'd like to share, so much passion, so much noir, but I’ve included here just a few. Unlike the grey, deep cold of "Sirens", this book is set in a blistering summer in Manchester: The heat that year was annihilating. The endless, fever dream days passed slowly, and afterwards you wondered if they’d even been real. Beneath the hum of air conditioners, the chink of ice in glasses, you could almost hear it. The slow-drip of people losing their minds. The city was brilliantly lit, like an unending explosion you were expected to live inside, and the nights, when they finally came, felt hallucinatory, charged with electricity. Aidan's loathsome partner on the night shift... Sutty had no family and no friends that I knew of. The rumour was that he’d once been a promising detective, before he became addicted to human tragedy and was slowly seduced by the night shift... ... He was at once attracted to, and repulsed by, the people. The boys were all snowflakes and fuckwits, the girls were easy or, worse, feminists, but he’d happily sit in cells, listening to them all night, he’d even drive them home when they were lost or drunk or both. To the untrained eye, these instances could look like sympathy, but in truth he enjoyed seeing people cast low. In truth, he encouraged it. He’d routinely let the names of informants slip to violent criminals, he’d drop young girls working as escorts in the worst parts of town. He told me he’d once attended an AA meeting, poured a bottle of vodka into the free coffee and waited, watching, as people got drunk. The Palace Hotel, Manchester Discovery of the body... His own sweat was glazed across his face, and I thought I could feel the heat pouring out of him. He looked well groomed for a midnight intruder, cleanly shaven with a sharp haircut. I stopped when I saw that his eyes were wide open. They were cobalt-blue and staring into the next life like he was done with this one. .... It was his teeth that sent me out of the room, though. The muscles in his mouth had contracted viciously, and locked into a wide, wincing grin. Aidan at the hospital to interview a witness... The nurse was a sick-looking man with grey, translucent teeth. He sucked them, audibly, as we walked. I wondered if he’d begun working here as a healthy person and then slowly absorbed the aura of madness and death surrounding him. After the pub, and the tugging of heartstrings with old flame, Sian... I finished my drink and left to the sound of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’, knowing it couldn’t get any better than that, wondering if Sian had put it on the jukebox for old times’ sake. I climbed the stairs feeling loose, absent-minded even, and emerged on to the street still humming the tune. Double-decker buses roared by like bright, empty boxes of light. I’d started to walk back into town when I heard a movement behind me. I turned and saw someone, the shape of a man, standing by the entrance of The Temple... The "missing missing" ... The missing missing were people who dropped off the face of the earth and kept on going, with no one in their lives who noticed, or no one in their lives who cared. When they were found dead, with no means of identification, it was almost as though they’d been born that way. Aidan tries again to escape himself... As a boy I’d vanished from foster homes with this [bus station] as my destination. The only fixed idea in my head. Sometimes I got as far as the next city, sometimes I was back in care before they noticed I was gone. I remembered oblivion nights, sleeping outside, waiting for the doors to open, and all of my first kisses, with girls, with drink, with drugs. I remembered running away here as a teenager, with the first love of my life, and coming-to outside the next morning. The girl and the money were both gone, and she’d written a Dear John letter on my left hand in red biro. The Midland Hotel, Manchester. They said that Hitler had wanted it as the Nazi HQ of Great Britain. Aidan's fate in love... Sian wore a shimmering silver dress with her hair pulled up and her porcelain shoulders on show. The sun had started to catch her skin, and a light constellation of freckles was visible about her cheeks. Greeting old friends, pausing for photographs and talking to large circles of people, she was impossible not to look at, impossible not to love. She moved through the party like an aura, and even the places she’d been and gone from held something of her radiance, her afterglow. Epiphany... When I got to the door and raised my hand to knock I saw my own reflection. The dark, lived-in suit. The bags under my eyes that I could never quite sleep off. The deep cuts and bruises from my fight with [him], like he’d reached out from inside my head and made the mental scars physical. I waited for my face to warp and alter in the glass but it didn’t change. It had finally settled on a look and, after months of doubt and confusion, I suddenly recognized myself so well. I was my father’s son. The violent man I thought I was pretending to be. What an extraordinary book. What an extraordinary new talent, Joseph Knox. Wow. ARC courtesy NetGalley.co.uk, Thank you. . Joseph Knox Update: Joseph notes - Based on a real life murder, this thing was six months of 16-20 hour days to write. Home invasions, arson, revenge porn, and the death of an unidentifiable man. A varied case load for Aidan Waits, stretching all the way from bad to worse... #sirensbook #secondbook #thesmilingman #josephknox Joseph kindly honours my review via Twitter, 8 March 2018: Thank you so much, William. I must admit I saw your Sirens review. Maybe the best I’ve ever had! What’s funny is you’ve picked out some of the few lines that I had to fight for. I’m just sorry that the next one will be a long old wait for you... My Reply to him: I understand how hard and well you worked for these two books. If you continue to work hard, and fight for your true voice, you will continue with your extraordinary success. The homage to Chandler is exquisite.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    4.5 stars I didn’t read the first book in this series, and initially, I felt I was missing some of the background, but Knox did a good job of filling it in as the book progressed. And I really enjoyed the second. Aidan is damaged goods. He’s been transferred to the night shift and is working with a DI who's almost useless. It’s obvious the higher ups want him to quit. But then the two of them come across a dead man in The Palace, a closed hotel. There are multiple crimes Waits is investigating, no 4.5 stars I didn’t read the first book in this series, and initially, I felt I was missing some of the background, but Knox did a good job of filling it in as the book progressed. And I really enjoyed the second. Aidan is damaged goods. He’s been transferred to the night shift and is working with a DI who's almost useless. It’s obvious the higher ups want him to quit. But then the two of them come across a dead man in The Palace, a closed hotel. There are multiple crimes Waits is investigating, not all of them as part of his job,which further infuriates his boss. The multiple investigations keep both Aidan and us on our toes. The book can feel convoluted at times with everything going on. This isn’t a book where you can gloss over parts. It demands attention. And it is dark! It perfectly encompasses the nastiness of the darker sides of Manchester in the grips of a recession. And it also touches on all sorts of ethical issues, such as stepping outside the law to protect the vulnerable. It engaged me from almost the first page. The writing is well done, not overly flowery but imaginative. “So far, the day, the case, had been one loose thread after another, and it was time to twist them together into something more tangible.” Knox is like a fisherman, getting readers on the hook and pulling us in. I found I kept wanting to read just one more chapter. And the ending took me totally by surprise. My Thanks to netgalley and Crown Publishing for an advance copy of this books.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”He was sitting in a chair, facing the window. He didn’t respond as I drew closer and I felt a cold sweat, itching out from my scalp. I wiped my face with my forearm, eyes not leaving the shape. As I came alongside him I saw that he was dead. His own sweat was glazed across his face, and I thought I could feel the heat pouring out of him. He looked well groomed for a midnight intruder, cleanly shaven with a sharp haircut. I stopped when I saw that his eyes were wide open. They were cobalt-blue a ”He was sitting in a chair, facing the window. He didn’t respond as I drew closer and I felt a cold sweat, itching out from my scalp. I wiped my face with my forearm, eyes not leaving the shape. As I came alongside him I saw that he was dead. His own sweat was glazed across his face, and I thought I could feel the heat pouring out of him. He looked well groomed for a midnight intruder, cleanly shaven with a sharp haircut. I stopped when I saw that his eyes were wide open. They were cobalt-blue and staring into the next life like he was done with this one. It was his teeth that sent me out of the room, though. The muscles in his mouth had contracted viciously, and locked into a wide, wincing grin.” Detective Aiden Waits has been assigned to the night shift with the most loathed and lazy detective on the force. Let’s just say, if there is a negative connotation describing a human being, it probably fits Detective Peter “Sutty” Sutcliffe. Waits has landed at the very bottom of the detective food chain. To go any lower, he would be unemployed. Waits has earned his way there. After the shenanigans he got up to in book one, I am frankly surprised to find that he’d kept his job for book two. ”One benefit of quitting speed, cocaine and ecstasy was that it made drinking feel like a healthy choice.” Besides his struggles with addiction, he is also undisciplined, has issues with authority, and frequently shoots himself in the foot trying to do the right thing. Doing the right thing proves to be very subjective indeed. The night shift is full of the loneliest of the loneliest people. Most of his shifts are spent sorting the normal things that occur between drug dealers, hookers, and the rest of the disadvantaged people who have landed on the margins of society, but when he catches the murder of the grinning corpse, the Smiling Man, Aiden has no idea the attention this is going to bring to him and to his past. To further compound his problems, a young woman has reported that she is being blackmailed for sex by a rich fuck named Oliver Cartwright. She doesn’t want to make an official report, and fortunately or unfortunately depending on your opinion, she catches the right/wrong detective. “Don’t do it, Aiden!” I say from my reading armchair, inspiring a puzzled look from my Scottish Terrier. He does it. How he fixes this problem will never show up in any policing manuel. Is it immoral? Well, all of you will just have to judge him for yourself. I won’t cast any aspersions upon the lad. There really isn’t room for more anyway. ”I moved the rear-view mirror so I couldn’t see myself and pulled out into traffic. Sometimes you confound expectations, sometimes you grow into the thing that people think you are.” Ambiguous morality is always a bugger to figure out. As his indiscretions come to light, not in a provable way but certainly where there is smoke with Aiden there is always fire, his boss knows without knowing that Waits pulled a Waits on Cartwright. In the shadowy underworld where cops and crime bosses meet, there is an agreement that, as long as Waits stays employed as a cop, his ticket won’t get punched. The moment he is canned, the protection he enjoys as a cop will dissipate, letting loose the hounds of retribution. Needless to say, Waits has made a plethora of very powerful enemies. He’ll be fish bait in a week. Now you would think that this Damocles sword looming over his head would keep Detective Aiden Waits flying straight and playing it safe. It does not, much to this reader’s consternation, even though I am anxious for him and rooting for him to find a way to survive, but also find some semblance of happiness. To make matters worse, as if he doesn’t have enough anxiety built into his life, he also has a creature from his past dogging him, calling him, pulling him back into the skin of whom he once was, reopening a wounded place in his soul where his destructive ways originated. Dare he say his name? I really appreciate that Joseph Knox gives us more of Aiden’s back story in this book. We learn about his flawed character in Sirens, but in The Smiling Man we discover the true reasons behind his struggles with addiction and his quest for justice by whatever means. His past could have made him a bad man intent on hurting other people, all people, but it turns out he inflicts the worst punishments upon himself. Knox is certainly writing the next generation of British Noir with hardboiled characters and gritty plots that are tough and cynical enough to fit seamlessly in a James A. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, or a Cornell Woolrich novel. The third Aiden Waits book has just been released this month and is titled The Sleepwalker. I’m certainly interested to see what demented and disastrious circumstances Aiden will have fallen into by the time I reconvene with him. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Of course 5 stars, what else would it be?? This second instalment in Joseph Knox’s Manchester noir series cements his place at the very top of British crime writing. Clever, funny, with staggeringly layered and conflicted characters, this is unmissable storytelling. Following the challenging and reputation destroying events in Sirens, DC Aiden Waits has been relegated to the night shift under the charge of the obnoxious DI Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe- the only one now willing to work with him. Thei Of course 5 stars, what else would it be?? This second instalment in Joseph Knox’s Manchester noir series cements his place at the very top of British crime writing. Clever, funny, with staggeringly layered and conflicted characters, this is unmissable storytelling. Following the challenging and reputation destroying events in Sirens, DC Aiden Waits has been relegated to the night shift under the charge of the obnoxious DI Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe- the only one now willing to work with him. Their partnership bounces from passive aggressive acts of minor irritation to outright hostility, but provide nothing less than comedy gold for the reader. Together they make a surprisingly efficient team as they go from investigating seemingly random dustbin fires to murder. Once again, the disparate tendrils of the plot wind ever tighter, until the stunning conclusion awes you with its brutal clarity. Yet there is no pretty bow on top, Knox is a master of messy humanity and you are under no illusion that things were always going to go this way. Waits is a perfect example of this- the revelations about his past both explain and contradict who he is now, making you wonder what could have been. Despite spending two books with him, he remains unknowable, and leaves you desperate for more answers. I truly cannot wait for more. Brilliant reading, but make sure you pick up Sirens first. ARC via Netgalley

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    3.5 Stars Nothing comes easy for Aidan Waits. He’s a disgraced, dishonest, and disliked police officer in England trying to do permanent night shift job and hopefully stay alive. If only the world would cooperate with him! Instead author Joseph Knox clutters Aidan’s life with more trouble than half a dozen detectives should have to face. A young girl being blackmailed, an unidentifiable dead man in a seedy hotel where a security guard rents rooms to call girls, drug dealers and physical attacks ar 3.5 Stars Nothing comes easy for Aidan Waits. He’s a disgraced, dishonest, and disliked police officer in England trying to do permanent night shift job and hopefully stay alive. If only the world would cooperate with him! Instead author Joseph Knox clutters Aidan’s life with more trouble than half a dozen detectives should have to face. A young girl being blackmailed, an unidentifiable dead man in a seedy hotel where a security guard rents rooms to call girls, drug dealers and physical attacks are some of his woes. Thankfully Aidan is able to put pieces into their proper places and bring some order to life. Knox offers an interesting take to these fastballs, curveballs and knuckleballs. It is up to the reader to keep an eye on the ball or Knox will slip one by you. I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley. This did not effect my review of this book. #netgalley #TheSmilingMan

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Incredible. Brilliant writing, brilliant characters, top notch storytelling with a heart of darkness and an emotional resonance rarely found in crime novels. Sirens was good. Very very good. This is another level. Loved loved it. Descriptively speaking this is hard hitting and has a truly gripping authentic edge – following Aidan through the night shift with his erstwhile partner Sutcliffe, a strong sense of place sits right within the story, the dialogue sparkles with a gritty realism and you ju Incredible. Brilliant writing, brilliant characters, top notch storytelling with a heart of darkness and an emotional resonance rarely found in crime novels. Sirens was good. Very very good. This is another level. Loved loved it. Descriptively speaking this is hard hitting and has a truly gripping authentic edge – following Aidan through the night shift with his erstwhile partner Sutcliffe, a strong sense of place sits right within the story, the dialogue sparkles with a gritty realism and you just sink into Aidan’s world from the very first page. A slow tense build up of events where eventually past will collide with present in unpredictable and highly poignant ways, Joseph Knox plays on the emotions of the reader with a creative subtlety that I haven’t found elsewhere. Aidan Waits as a character is endearingly engaging, which is a strange way of describing someone who is seemingly all but broken – but in both Sirens and The Smiling Man the author is building us a picture – of a man who life has happened to, who has allowed life to happen to him. His strength comes from unexpected places, you feel as if you have only just hit the surface layers, despite all that has happened since we met him for the first time in Sirens. The supporting cast are just as good, the mystery elements are simply part of Aidan’s story, the plotting is intelligent, the setting is alive, the dark underbelly of Manchester shines with a grim yet exquisite beauty. Simply put, there is absolutely nothing negative I can say about this book – well except maybe it was over too soon so Joseph Knox needs to WRITE FASTER DAMMIT, I need to know what is next. Like Sirens, The Smiling Man broke me. Emotional reading trauma – there’s nothing like it. I can’t leave this review without giving a nod to “Sutty” whose dark wit, human irony and beautifully indirect empathy really added so much to this story – but I guess the same could be said for every character you meet within the pages, they all add to a magnificent, addictive and superbly immersive reading experience. Overall then I think you can safely say I’m going to be a lifelong fan of this particular author’s storytelling. Bring on many years and many books is what I say. If you haven’t read Sirens yet start there…… Literary gritty crime at it’s very very best. Highly Recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Great police/detective story! As this was the second in a series, I’m very curious to read the first book and see how our “hero” Aidan developed into the sarcastic, lower level constable which he is during The Smiling Man. The story was always a decent pace, some action that wasn’t overbearing. I was quite surprised at the final outcome. You could definitely follow this story without the background of the first. A lot of Aidan’s past was revealed, much of it heart wrenching. I recommend this book Great police/detective story! As this was the second in a series, I’m very curious to read the first book and see how our “hero” Aidan developed into the sarcastic, lower level constable which he is during The Smiling Man. The story was always a decent pace, some action that wasn’t overbearing. I was quite surprised at the final outcome. You could definitely follow this story without the background of the first. A lot of Aidan’s past was revealed, much of it heart wrenching. I recommend this book to all thriller and crime readers. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the advanced reader’s copy of this intriguing novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    While I enjoyed the first book "Sirens" from Mr. Knox, I freaking loved this book! It's just as grimy and gritty as I imagine some parts of Manchester would be, and I admit that with my intense dislike of cities, that I would avoid going there at all costs. I'm a country mouse! This is Mr. Knoxs' second book, but he reads like a seasoned pro! I thought Aiden and Sutty were the perfect team. They didn't seem to like each other much, but they're growing into it. Aiden is a bit broken, yet he's ful While I enjoyed the first book "Sirens" from Mr. Knox, I freaking loved this book! It's just as grimy and gritty as I imagine some parts of Manchester would be, and I admit that with my intense dislike of cities, that I would avoid going there at all costs. I'm a country mouse! This is Mr. Knoxs' second book, but he reads like a seasoned pro! I thought Aiden and Sutty were the perfect team. They didn't seem to like each other much, but they're growing into it. Aiden is a bit broken, yet he's full of strength and compassion. Sutty? Well he's full of dark humor, caustic wit and he made me laugh, guffaw and snort. I love that! I thought they make a perfect team. As for the mystery? It's intriguing from the start, and only gets better. You'll have to discover it all on your own. I started this book last night and finished it 6 hours later. That almost never happens. So, yes I highly recommend this book and author. My thanks to Crown Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    In brief - Without doubt a "best of year" book - where's that 6th star when you need it! I'd not come across this author, Joseph Knox, before however I quickly found his first book Sirens had collected some very good reviews. This one follows on from the first book although I didn't feel I was missing out on anything but not having read it (but I have a copy now). Due to past misdemeanours DC Aidan Waits is put on a permanent night shift with DI "Sutty" Sutcliffe. I quickly realised that they wer In brief - Without doubt a "best of year" book - where's that 6th star when you need it! I'd not come across this author, Joseph Knox, before however I quickly found his first book Sirens had collected some very good reviews. This one follows on from the first book although I didn't feel I was missing out on anything but not having read it (but I have a copy now). Due to past misdemeanours DC Aidan Waits is put on a permanent night shift with DI "Sutty" Sutcliffe. I quickly realised that they were the perfect crime fighting duo - one untrusted and one appalling! They are left to investigate a series of fires in dustbins. More by accident they are called to what turns out to be a real crime scene. A deserted hotel appears to have been broken into. They find an injured security guard and a dead - smiling - man. This is a very twisty and twisted investigation and story. Most of the time nothing is quite what it seems. Gradually things come together during the course of this deeply dark story. Aidan - an excellent character - has to come to terms with demons of his own as well as the investigation. Sutty is simply Sutty - not really come across a character quite like him before but he works very well indeed. In addition to these two this book contains a character so deeply nasty; I don't recall reading one quite like this before. There's violence here too and it is nasty sometimes in case that bothers you. I was immediately caught up in this story and found it very hard to put down. The Manchester setting is good and well used. The main characters were very good indeed - vivid and well developed. In particular the deep deep darkness in Aidan Waits is very effective in my mind. Rereading my notes that I took while reading this the word that keeps cropping up is "dark" and the book certainly is that. However I like some good dark fiction. A couple of my favourites authors are Jo Nesbo and Tim Weaver - they both write dark and write it well. Joseph Knox's writing is up there with them as far as I'm concerned. This is actually quite a simply story - it is very well told however. I'll read the earlier book as soon as I can and I'll be at the front of the queue for the next one. One of the "books of the year" without question. Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review http://viewson.org.uk/thriller/the-sm...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox is the second mystery in the Detective Aidan Waits series. The detective has been assigned to nightshift duty due to previous problems with drug abuse and temper control. His senior partner is Sully Sutcliffe, who is putting up with him until he either quits or gets fired. Nothing good is expected from Aidan Waits. The pair are called to answer a break-in alarm at an empty hotel in Manchester. Upon investigation, the detectives find an unconscious security guard an The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox is the second mystery in the Detective Aidan Waits series. The detective has been assigned to nightshift duty due to previous problems with drug abuse and temper control. His senior partner is Sully Sutcliffe, who is putting up with him until he either quits or gets fired. Nothing good is expected from Aidan Waits. The pair are called to answer a break-in alarm at an empty hotel in Manchester. Upon investigation, the detectives find an unconscious security guard and a dead body in one of the rooms. The body was dressed in clothing without labels, his fingerprints and teeth had been removed and the corpse was smiling. The identity of this man seems impossible to establish. Aidan Waits, who is expected to self-destruct anyways, takes on the case with great interest and drive. There are numerous characters in this book but the story is fascinating to follow. You will never be able to predict what is on the next page. I also look forward to reading Sirens, the first in the series by Joseph Knox. Pick up a copy of The Smiling Man and settle in for a great read. Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    It's not often I'm drawn to signed editions of books, but while going through the crime section in a bookstore I saw this one. It was enough for me to pick a copy up a scan the blurb. What followed grabbed my attention a dark story of a detective on the hunt for an identity of a murdered man who has been stripped of anything that might give a clue to who he is. Not to mention the very creepy state in which he was left. It was also the fact that it was set in my home country, It's not often I p It's not often I'm drawn to signed editions of books, but while going through the crime section in a bookstore I saw this one. It was enough for me to pick a copy up a scan the blurb. What followed grabbed my attention a dark story of a detective on the hunt for an identity of a murdered man who has been stripped of anything that might give a clue to who he is. Not to mention the very creepy state in which he was left. It was also the fact that it was set in my home country, It's not often I pick a book upset in England. For some reason, it's not something I do very often. Detective Aidan Waits is possible one of the most broken detectives I have come across in recent years. He is a man wrecked by his past and drug abuse, I found my self-wondering how he still functioned in his job. He is a man driven to hunt out justice in whatever form crosses his past. This is also the source of much of his trouble, Being so headstrong leads him at times to leap before he thinks. In a world of gangsters and crooks, he is a constant thorn in their sides. But for his many faults, he is very good at what he does. A dark avenger in a city ravaged by a dark heart. Dragged along in his quest is Sutty who with the best will in the world should also probably not be a police officer. He is an angry man who would seem to hate everyone he comes into contact with, This includes his partner. For Sutty's part, he just wants to write off this crime as a suicide and get back to doing as little as possible. On his path to find the killer of the smiling man Aidan meets a cross-section of Manchester seeder underworld. From crooked and more than a little creepy club owner to the head of a crime family. with a past contenting him to the detective. While they all seem a little larger than the life they fit perfectly within the constraints of the story. What the author gave me was a noir story in the very best tradition. All the time I was reading this book it took me back to the books I had read growing up. With the likes of Chandler, Ellroy, and Hammett rolling around in my head reading this were like going back to spend time with these authors. But Knox doesn't just copy these authors he not only gives it his own take but adds a healthy dose of Britishness to it. The book flows to the rhythm of to those dark place that most would only see passing by in a taxi. He gives us a world of dirt and decay to which our hero feels right at home. With such a premise the story was bound to only go a certain way. He digs down deeper into each chapter, slowly showing us not only the facts of the present but also delving into Aidan's own tragic past. For me, it was hard to put this book down. the author captures you in the first chapter. I haven't read the first in this series but within the first couple of chapter, I was given a real sense of not only the sort of characters I was dealing with but the world they inhabit. This I think is a great testament to the authors work he gives us a hero and story that we can feel empathy for. All of this is wrapped up in a mystery that is well thought out and intelligently delivered. Pulp fiction for the modern age and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from Knox.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Truman32

    It’s no secret that I live in a dangerous, often lawless town. In Wellesley, ruthless street gangs run rampant – at a young age you are initiated into the either the Sharks, or my gang: the Jets. You cross either of us you are likely to experience your ass getting cut open with a switchblade, or perhaps even worse-- a jazzy little dance number. Now when you are a Jet, you are a Jet all the way. From your first cigarette to your last dying day. Jets hate the Sharks (mainly because they are from P It’s no secret that I live in a dangerous, often lawless town. In Wellesley, ruthless street gangs run rampant – at a young age you are initiated into the either the Sharks, or my gang: the Jets. You cross either of us you are likely to experience your ass getting cut open with a switchblade, or perhaps even worse-- a jazzy little dance number. Now when you are a Jet, you are a Jet all the way. From your first cigarette to your last dying day. Jets hate the Sharks (mainly because they are from Puerto Rico, which I understand is a little racist, but what can I say, it’s the 1950’s. We aren’t as enlightened as the folks of 2019 are sure to be). Jets love smoking, making fun of Officer Krupke, delinquency, and cozy English mysteries that take place in large manors, with a room full of suspects usually solved by an amateur sleuth. Cozy English mysteries are awesome!! Now our mortal enemies, the Sharks, on the other hand love the entertainment of EGOT winning actress Rita Moreno, singing about America, and violent urban English thrillers full of corruption and bleakness. Bleak urban English thrillers?! Can you believe it??? But then everything changed. I thought I knew what was right and what was wrong until I fell in love with Maria, the sister of the Shark’s leader! She has introduced me to the novel, The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox. This gritty thriller has completely rearranged my views on what makes a good English mystery. It’s gritty, it’s urban, and in no way is it like the cozy mysteries I am used to. Why the title doesn’t have a pun in it or even mention baked goods! Manchester Officer Aidan Waits lives a jumbled life of bad decisions, prior drug abuse, and the shattering ramifications from a horrific upbringing. On the night shift while investigating dumpster fires he stumbles upon the smiling man. Now people smile for many reasons. They might be particularly proud of their dental work. They could be exhibiting an unconscious social reaction. They feel threatened and will soon bite you. In the smiling man’s case, he is smiling because he is a corpse with a ghastly grin frozen across his mug. Burdened with a truly disgusting partner, a corrupt and conniving boss, and an unpleasant and threatening blast from the past, Waits works to solve the riddle of this grinning cadaver’s death. It is all pretty riveting. Well-told and extremely enjoyable, The Smiling Man is a wonderful thriller. Even my best bud, Riff will enjoy it. Maria has really opened my eyes and I will be sure to tell her brother, Bernardo, under the overpass tonight that the Jets and Sharks do not need to fight anymore. With first-rate urban thrillers like this there is obviously enough room for both kinds of mysteries on our bookshelves.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the locations in the novel If you thought Sirens was a blues and twos kind of ride, fast paced, noisy and chaotic, then this is Sirens with bells on! Gritty, down right brutal and not for the faint hearted. Manchester has a dark dark heart it would seem, well at least in this novel but there's some clever commentary woven in about the city in real life, how its history has shaped it, the importance of China town etc.... very nicely done. Characters are razor sharp and that smiling man?Oh dea Visit the locations in the novel If you thought Sirens was a blues and twos kind of ride, fast paced, noisy and chaotic, then this is Sirens with bells on! Gritty, down right brutal and not for the faint hearted. Manchester has a dark dark heart it would seem, well at least in this novel but there's some clever commentary woven in about the city in real life, how its history has shaped it, the importance of China town etc.... very nicely done. Characters are razor sharp and that smiling man?Oh dear, a dead man smiling is not a good sign That sent shivers up my spine right there. Knox on the door of your local bookseller for this one. ;)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The Smiling Man – A Manc Noir Classic Joseph Knox has created a defective detective series based around, bent, possibly corrupt copper trying to go straight, Aidan Watts. A detective whose city beat is around the City Centre of Manchester, and the places do exist, even if a bit of artistic licence is used. An example being St Mary’s hospital, you will find it is the maternity hospital, the MRI is around the corner, which has the A & E. But that is me being a pedant, sorry. Aidan Watts has been dum The Smiling Man – A Manc Noir Classic Joseph Knox has created a defective detective series based around, bent, possibly corrupt copper trying to go straight, Aidan Watts. A detective whose city beat is around the City Centre of Manchester, and the places do exist, even if a bit of artistic licence is used. An example being St Mary’s hospital, you will find it is the maternity hospital, the MRI is around the corner, which has the A & E. But that is me being a pedant, sorry. Aidan Watts has been dumped on permanent night duty, serving alongside Detective Inspector Peter ‘Sutty’ Sutcliffe, both neither liked or trusted by senior officers. The night shift being nothing but endless emergency calls and dead ends, anything of interest passed on to the day shift. One night in the middle of a very hot summer in the city they are called out to an incident at the disused, and up for sale, Palace Hotel. When they get their they find the security guard is knocked out, he hears voices and someone escaping down the fire escape. He goes up a floor to room 413, where he finds a dead man who is smiling. All identifying tags on the man’s clothing has been removed and there are no other means of identification. As Waits slowly pieces together the identity of the mystery man, the investigation gains more dead bodies which seem to send them in another direction. Even when they think they have and identity, not everything is as it should seem. He has warring owners to deal with, worried that the murder will hold up the sale, a solicitor in Thailand who cannot be contacted. And officers and a forensic team that does not trust Waits as far as they can throw him. Things are not made any easier with a Superintendent that would love to get rid of him, another investigation that brings him in to contact with a Z list celebrity, who needs to be dealt with. But his biggest problem is the blast from the past that has come back into his life to haunt him. Like his murder investigation he has realised that he needs to deal with the past to face down the future. Is Waits a bent copper or just blurs the lines? Will he be able to deal with his past? We finally get the back story to what has formed Waits as the person he is. Whether he is likable is a different matter, but he does make for a gripping character. An excellent thriller, and I hope there is much more to come from this series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Authentikate

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Thanks fo Netgalley who provides this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Want honesty? This was a fantastic read! Many books claim to be books one can’t put down; The Smiling Man is truly a one-sitting read...you won’t be able to put down. The novel is a dark cop noir on the gritty streets of Manchester England. It follows detective Aidan Waits (a sort of ne’er-do-well with a shady past) as he is relegated to patrol the night shift with his partner, the sharp-tongued Sutty. One Wow! Wow! Wow! Thanks fo Netgalley who provides this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Want honesty? This was a fantastic read! Many books claim to be books one can’t put down; The Smiling Man is truly a one-sitting read...you won’t be able to put down. The novel is a dark cop noir on the gritty streets of Manchester England. It follows detective Aidan Waits (a sort of ne’er-do-well with a shady past) as he is relegated to patrol the night shift with his partner, the sharp-tongued Sutty. One particular hot night, the pair is called to a hotel report of a break-in. There, Aidan encounters a dead man whose grimace gives way to the title—The smiling man. But finding out who killed the man in the hotel is but one of three plots Joseph Knox deftly weaves into a tense, suspenseful, darkly comedic mystery. What sets this book apart from others in the genre is: the strong voice—human, and humorous; swift pacing; and superb realistic dialogue. I highly recommend grabbing this title! This book will be (or should be) a hit with many readers!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tiger

    #2 in Knox's Aidan Waits series set in Manchester and after reading "Sirens" I was eager to see where the author would take us next and it turned out to be a very good journey. Now on the permanent night shift, with the grumpiest partner known to modern man, Aiden Waits is called out to a shut down, formerly posh hotel where they find a mysterious dead man. A man with absolutely no ID......and a smile on his face. The investigation takes them to some unusual places and some unusual people, but t #2 in Knox's Aidan Waits series set in Manchester and after reading "Sirens" I was eager to see where the author would take us next and it turned out to be a very good journey. Now on the permanent night shift, with the grumpiest partner known to modern man, Aiden Waits is called out to a shut down, formerly posh hotel where they find a mysterious dead man. A man with absolutely no ID......and a smile on his face. The investigation takes them to some unusual places and some unusual people, but they follow every clue no matter where it takes them, even if it takes Aidan to some dark moments from his past. This was a very well crafted, intricate mystery where the main character showed tremendous growth in just one book to a hard working, yet still flawed policeman but certainly someone you are cheering for. As with "Sirens" take your time with this book to absorb every detail as there is lots going on and the author pulls it all together in a captivating finish. I very much look forward to #3. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)

    Aidan Waites is BACK! I thoroughly enjoyed Sirens, book one in this series. It's dark, gritty and the underbelly of society in crime fiction. So thrilled to have finally read book two. Knox really gets into Aidan's past and shows us why he's such a great anti-hero. What I loved best is the humor that was trickled throughout. I love a good giggle and the play son Waites's name... one guy kept calling him Heavy and I don't know why but I cackled at this for some reason. 🤣And then there was this int Aidan Waites is BACK! I thoroughly enjoyed Sirens, book one in this series. It's dark, gritty and the underbelly of society in crime fiction. So thrilled to have finally read book two. Knox really gets into Aidan's past and shows us why he's such a great anti-hero. What I loved best is the humor that was trickled throughout. I love a good giggle and the play son Waites's name... one guy kept calling him Heavy and I don't know why but I cackled at this for some reason. 🤣And then there was this interchange: "Aidan Waites." "Yes he does. Someone will be with you in a minute, Mr. Waites." Giggles. Waites is one of the most flawed and damaged characters I've read in the crime fiction world. Yet, despite and because of these characteristics, he's lovable while trying to be so damned unlovable. I didn't find this to be quite as dark as Sirens... but it does go dark and deep into Aidan. Despite everything, he's always bound and determined to solve the murder at hand and will go to any extreme to do so. He's certainly not quite popular within his field of work on a personal basis but you can't help but respect his results. Do you need to read Sirens to read this one? I don't think you HAVE to but I'm a person who feels reading series books in order is important. And Sirens was brilliant so why wouldn't you read it anyways? 😉 Come and pick up what Knox is laying down... especially if you love dark crime fiction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    For me, the sign of a great read is when my copy of the book is bursting with post-it stickers. I used a lot of post-its on this book, in fact there's so many that I have had difficulty in choosing specific phrases to concentrate on. I adored Joseph Knox's first book, Sirens, and had waited with great anticipation for the next book. Well, if Sirens was great, this one is excellent. I was gripped, completely engrossed from page one. Joseph Knox is such a competent author; The Smiling Man is urban n For me, the sign of a great read is when my copy of the book is bursting with post-it stickers. I used a lot of post-its on this book, in fact there's so many that I have had difficulty in choosing specific phrases to concentrate on. I adored Joseph Knox's first book, Sirens, and had waited with great anticipation for the next book. Well, if Sirens was great, this one is excellent. I was gripped, completely engrossed from page one. Joseph Knox is such a competent author; The Smiling Man is urban noir at its very best. The Manchester setting is dangerous and grubby, filled with characters who will haunt your dreams. The story has multiple threads; there's the 'smiling man' of the title; found dead in a disused hotel. Also in there is revenge porn and a stalker, and then there's the mysterious plot line that appears every now and again telling of a small boy and how he's being turned to crime by his family. A reader could be overwhelmed by the many layers that at first, seem unconnected, but this author weaves and joins with such ease and flair and as the plots progress, the entire story just falls together perfectly. For me, Joseph Knox's hugest talent is in his character descriptions; " ..... revealing a narrow bone-white face and a frown. She had short, black hair, gleaming dark marbles for eyes and an almost invisible little paper-cut for a mouth." "He had a face full of age, hate and booze, and I counted three golden teeth before he closed his mouth again." "After weeks of unbroken heat he was starting to look and smell like the larval stage for something else entirely" These characters, so perfectly created, so unexpected and so life like have been living inside my head for the past few days. The Smiling Man brings us an Aiden Waits who has learned much from the events that made up the story in Sirens. He still has his demons, he's still resented by many of his colleagues and he's still trying to shrug off his addictions and lost love. However, he has shifted and his tenacity and newly emerging self-belief is at the forefront. As Aiden's past is slowly revealed too, the reader can do nothing but fall a little more in love with him despite his recklessness. The Smiling Man is tightly woven, the plot is complex but hugely satisfying and the sparks of the darkest of humour that flash intermittently throughout add a sparkle that is quite magical. The characters that populate this story are some of the darkest and most grubby to be found in crime fiction, and that does include the police. Aiden's partner Sutty is a marvellous creation; obsessed with cleanliness but full of dirty tricks and with no apparent compassion or humour. Set during the searing heat of Summer with Manchester emerging as a character in its own right, The Smiling Man is a modern, dark and suspense filled novel. Joseph Knox is so observant, his writing is fierce, unsettling and so very atmospheric. Roll on the next in the series, I'm missing Aiden Waits already.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox is the second book featuring Aidan Waits but the first that I have read. I did feel that I missed a bit in not reading the first book Sirens but mostly I managed to follow this book. Detective Aiden Watts works the night shift in Manchester... mainly being called out to public disturbances and dead ends. One night he and his partner Suttey are called out to an apparent break in at the abandoned Palace Hotel. After finding the security guard knocked out they check th The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox is the second book featuring Aidan Waits but the first that I have read. I did feel that I missed a bit in not reading the first book Sirens but mostly I managed to follow this book. Detective Aiden Watts works the night shift in Manchester... mainly being called out to public disturbances and dead ends. One night he and his partner Suttey are called out to an apparent break in at the abandoned Palace Hotel. After finding the security guard knocked out they check the rest of the rooms only to find a another man - this time dead - and he is smiling. There is nothing on the body to distinguish who he is. So the investigation begins. An enjoyable and sometimes dark story. Thank you to Random House UK/Transwork Publishers, Doubleday and Netgalley for a copy of this book to read and enjoy in exchange for my honest opinions

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Terrific gritty police story set in the dark dreary land of Manchester, England. Unlike many investigative stories, the lead character Aiden is not some perfect detective with a crack team of criminalists standing behind him, but a disgraced bitter guy living on the edge and haunted by his childhood and the things he does when he’s out of control. The ultimate story may be about those living in the edge, not the murder clues. From page one straight to the end, it is just an absolutely awesome re Terrific gritty police story set in the dark dreary land of Manchester, England. Unlike many investigative stories, the lead character Aiden is not some perfect detective with a crack team of criminalists standing behind him, but a disgraced bitter guy living on the edge and haunted by his childhood and the things he does when he’s out of control. The ultimate story may be about those living in the edge, not the murder clues. From page one straight to the end, it is just an absolutely awesome read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    RG

    Knox has a way with words. Its an elegance that not many write with. Such a talent. This time we have a murder and Aidan is back dealing with this but obviously his personal issues as well. The plotting is well constructed but my issue with Knox and his novels is that at times theboace can become a little slow. However I still enjoyed this alot. Gritty dark and the seedy underbelly exposed. Great stuff.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    This was even more unputdownable than the first in the series - seriously sleep defying ! I finished it at 1.30am last night. Full of unexpected twists, great dialogue and brilliant characters, not least the seriously damaged main character, Aidan Waits. Very clever use of a sub plot (featuring one of the most chilling evil doers that I've come across, "Bateman") that runs alongside the main one until eventually the link is revealed and it almost becomes more important than the main plot - like r This was even more unputdownable than the first in the series - seriously sleep defying ! I finished it at 1.30am last night. Full of unexpected twists, great dialogue and brilliant characters, not least the seriously damaged main character, Aidan Waits. Very clever use of a sub plot (featuring one of the most chilling evil doers that I've come across, "Bateman") that runs alongside the main one until eventually the link is revealed and it almost becomes more important than the main plot - like reading 2 great novels simultaneously. Can be read as a standalone but towards the end, there are references to the previous book, "Sirens" so for full enjoyment, read that first. Both books have the some of the most fast moving, action packed plots that I've ever come across but this one really is something special. Highly recommended and cannot wait for more in this series !

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Sirens was remarkable but The Smiling Man surpasses it. Superb!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    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 deb 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!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Carden

    I would give this six stars if possible. An intense, tough story, a shining follow up to Knox's outstandingSirens. I would give this six stars if possible. An intense, tough story, a shining follow up to Knox's outstandingSirens.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox is the second novel with troubled detective Aidan Waits. A corpse is found in an empty room in a closed hotel after an alarm is reported. Waits, along with his partner "Sutty" Sutcliffe, still exiled to working the graveyard shift, respond to the alarm and discover the corpse, which is soon nicknamed "The Smiling Man" due to the grimace left upon his face after death. The novel then details the investigation to learn the identity of the mystery corpse, while Waits The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox is the second novel with troubled detective Aidan Waits. A corpse is found in an empty room in a closed hotel after an alarm is reported. Waits, along with his partner "Sutty" Sutcliffe, still exiled to working the graveyard shift, respond to the alarm and discover the corpse, which is soon nicknamed "The Smiling Man" due to the grimace left upon his face after death. The novel then details the investigation to learn the identity of the mystery corpse, while Waits is also tasked with more apparent mundane investigations to keep him out of trouble. Soon, an unrelated investigation again rears the interest of Superintendent Parrs, which is not a good thing for Waits. The Smiling Man starts out slow but the completion is worth the continued reading, with the novel picking up steam as it goes along. More is revealed about Waits and his upbringing and past, along with the reason why Parrs tolerates Waits' behavior. Knox also introduces a forensic pathologist with great disdain for Waits and who actively speaks of his need to be terminated from the police. Knox successfully tells a tale where one wonders exactly how Waits will ever survive the troubles (yes, plural) he thrusts himself into and by the end of the novel, successfully weaves a rational solution that does not belie reality or cause a reader's disbelief. Another favorable thing Knox does is to insert kernels of information to remind readers of what happened in Sirens, the first Waits novel. In two ways, the novel ends on a sublime, yet powerful note, which seems to lead one to believe Knox is yet to be done with Waits. Highly recommended for readers that enjoy Adrian McKinty and Alan Parks and novels about detectives that just can't keep themselves out of trouble.

  30. 4 out of 5

    anionce

    I fell in love with Aidan Waits from the moment I started Sirens. I still loved him here, even though he’s become more mature and he’s not such a lost cause as he was in the first book. Or maybe he still is, but he certainly seems to be improving. If you love flawed detectives, you really need to give this series a go. Aidan is the classic tortured soul: he has a history of drug abuse and also a weakness: he can’t stand to see a suffering young woman. He always does everything he can to help the I fell in love with Aidan Waits from the moment I started Sirens. I still loved him here, even though he’s become more mature and he’s not such a lost cause as he was in the first book. Or maybe he still is, but he certainly seems to be improving. If you love flawed detectives, you really need to give this series a go. Aidan is the classic tortured soul: he has a history of drug abuse and also a weakness: he can’t stand to see a suffering young woman. He always does everything he can to help them out. The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox grabbed me from the very beginning and it never let me go. I was fascinated by the different storylines: the smiling man that nobody seemed to know, young Sophie and Cartwright’s threat, Aidan being practically harassed by the other police officers… and my personal favorite, the fantastically creepy flashbacks featuring Wally and that cruel and evil man. This last one wasn’t entirely a surprise, but I loved it anyway. The case involving the smiling man was so intriguing that I honestly had no idea of what had happened. There was a dead man at an abandoned hotel and the owners didn’t even talk to each other. The guard heard voices and was hurt by someone else. But were they even involved or was this totally unrelated? And what about the fact that the victim didn’t even have fingerprints? This storyline kept becoming more and more complex and mysterious and I really enjoyed the addition of the “missing missing” concept, which was incredibly interesting to read about. Sutcliffe is rude and unlikable, but his working relationship with Aidan was pretty interesting to read. You could say they almost make a good team. Detectives working the night shift is not something that I usually come across in detective novels or films (there are some exceptions, of course), and that’s probably the reason why I think Sirens and The Smiling Man are unique crime books that every noir fan should read as soon as possible. I love the dark and gritty world that Joseph Knox has crafted, and I can’t wait to read the next (and final?) installment in the Aidan Waits series. Also, I want to get to know him better, especially when it comes to his family and relationships. because… who exactly is Aidan Waits?

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