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Joseph Knox
Sirens is a debut novel set in the gritty bits of Manchester. The protagonist is a policeman (with flaws, obviously) and the backdrop is the drug scene with a disappearance that needs solving.

Not being a Mancunian, nor a policeman (saintly or flawed) nor a drug user I struggled to identify much with the hero which, as the book is written in the first person, was a bit of a blow. It also means that I can’t comment on whether the stunted character development is an accurate reflection of druggies brilliantly written or an idle author. (As this book made the shortlist for the Crime Writer’s Association John Creasy Award for best first novel I guess it’s the former).

The plotting is clever and there are a fair few twists along the way. These add further levels of sleaze and mire but again I found that I simply didn’t care about any of the characters either. This rather undermined the effect of the increasing body count and the ever increasing peril that the hero finds himself in.

The odd thing is that I could not put it down. The disappointing thing is that a couple of days later I’m struggling to recall any emotion or insight from it. At times I think the author is revelling in squalor for the sake of it and the whole work seems to me derivative. Imagine Trainspotting in black and white, with no sound track and without the humour.
Amazon productMaybe I should stick to Neville Shute.
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