The Smiling Man

The Smiling Man

Joseph Knox
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
A fictional crime thriller and the second book in the Detective Aiden Waits series, the first been Sirens which was a best seller, The Smiling Man is what any fictional story regardless of the actual subject matter should be, entertaining, an easy read, enjoyable gripping and most importantly have a good story line and this has the lot along with dark humour thrown in for good measure. DC Waitts is working nights alongside DI Peter SUTCLIFFE, a rather unfortunate name so the DI goes by the nick name Sutty to save his blushes! These two really don’t get on, they have history and put up with each other as they have no option, the pair patrol the streets after dark answering calls but they are also tasked with the unenviable job of finding a small time arsonist who goes around setting fire to rubbish bins.

One night a call goes out, an intruder alarm at a closed down hotel which is in the process of been sold. Sutty and Waits answer the call and discover the security guard unconscious Waits hears a suspect and sees him going out of the fire escape, he calls for back up and returns to the injured guard, on route back he notices a door open and discovers “the smiling man”, sat grimacing starring into oblivion and very dead. And so starts an investigation which takes the reader and DC Waits on a roller coaster ride of intrigue. First of all who is the victim? How and why did he end up in this disused hotel which was owned by a husband and wife who were divorcing and attempting to sell it?

The story is very well put together with DC Waits undergoing all sorts of threats from Superintendent Parrs and Waits struggling with his past demons. There are twists and turns throughout the book. Every so often and out of the blue two characters appear who as far as I could ascertain they had no bearing on the story what so ever, this little cameo by the two only lasted for a page and a half or maybe two, and appeared when the reader least expected it. Who are these two? A young boy called Walle, (short for wallet) and a rather sinister and violent man named Bateman, these two featured at the very beginning of the book and then disappear until they are again brought back for another small and insignificant short appearance, why?

I didn’t realise that this was the second book in the Detective Waits series and I would suggest that the first “Sirens” is read prior to this book as it may cast some light on Waits chequered history, saying that this book is very readable on its own.

I liked the way Sutty and Waits operate together, I liked the way that this story unfolded with all the characters having different parts to play and how it unfolded, a fast moving book that really did keep me up at night not wanting to put the book down, why? Because it made me laugh and it entertained and it made me think what else was going to happen, every time I thought right this is the last chapter I ended up reading another. Now that’s a sign of a good book and that’s why I give it 5/5 Mushroom heads.
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