*Just a gentle note, this post may contain spoilers*

In my last post, I talked about Joseph Knox’s debut novel, Sirens, part of the Aidan Waits series. And now, I’ve finished the second book, The Smiling Man and it’s even better than the first. I’ve even got this beautiful edition of the book! One, it’s signed. And two, it has gorgeous orange sprayed edges. It’s just beautiful. And orange, being my favourite colour, too…

So, what’s it about? This is what the blurb says:

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 have been 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 pieces together this stranger’s identity, someone is sifting through the shards of his own.

When mysterious fires, anonymous phone calls and outright threats start to escalate, he realizes that a ghost from his own past haunts his every move.

And to discover who the smiling man really is, he must first confront himself.

Sounds interesting, right? It is. This, for me, is a much more interesting story than the last one in the series. As I said, it was introducing us to the character of Aidan but in this one, the second in the series, the story grips you from the first word of the first sentence of the first page of the book. Knox doesn’t hold back in his writing. He is gritty, gory, gruesome and makes you squirm as you read the page. Just as it should. It’s very visceral, you can see the man sitting on the chair in front of the window as the world carries on below. It’s a very striking and rememberable image.

As it’s the second of the series, Knox is starting to peel the layers and layers from Aidan Waits. As he does this, we find out a lot more about Aidan and his past. Especially his childhood. I don’t want to go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it for you as it’s a gripping read but I found it really interesting to see how Aidan became the man he is today. There was a moment in the book that made me go ‘OH YES!’ about Aidan as a child… going forwards, I can’t wait to read more about Aidan and who he is as a person.

Just like the last book, there is also a great array of ensemble characters that really make the book. I really liked the development of Aidan and Sutty’s relationship, Aidan and his relationship with Parrs, his relationship with old flames, new flames and even characters from the first book that makes a pleasant surprise and links the whole story overall.

I don’t want to say too much because I think you should just read it and be gripped from the first page and keep on reading and reading right through the night to finish it because it’s that good. It’s a great second book in a great series with the great, damaged, emotional, flawed Aidan Waits. I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next.

If you want to read my review for Sirens, the first book in the Aidan Waits series, click here.

Have you read The Smiling Man? Are you a fan of the series? Let me know in the comments!





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