The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘He said he didn’t remember killing them…’

As a series of rolling blackouts plunge the city into darkness, Detective Aidan Waits sits on an abandoned hospital ward, watching a mass murderer slowly die. Transferred from his usual night shift duties and onto protective custody, he has just one job…

To extract the location of Martin Wick’s final victim before the notorious mass murderer passes away.

Wick has spent over a decade in prison, in near-total silence, having confessed to an unspeakable crime that shocked the nation and earned him the nickname of The Sleepwalker.

But when a daring premeditated attack leaves one police officer dead and another one fighting for his life, Wick’s whispered last words will send Waits on a journey into the heart of darkness…

Manipulated by a reticent psychopath from his past, and under investigation from his new partner, Detective Constable Naomi Black, Waits realises too late that a remorseless contract killer is at work.

Can Aidan Waits solve his last case before fleeing justice?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A few years ago I read and enjoyed Sirens, the first book in the Aidan Watts series. I was intrigued with the Manchester setting but wasn’t prepared for how dark the storyline was, how corrupt the police were and mainly how flawed Aidan was.

By book three much is the same, the darkness and corruption is still evident but I started to see a different side to Aidan. He seemed to accept, without resentment, the way his life had gone and I started to see a more compassionate side to him. I first noticed it when he met Adam in Strangeways prison. I felt that he was genuinely concerned for him and that he wanted to make his life more bearable. This feeling continued throughout the novel and on finishing it, I think it was because he was aware of what lay in his own future. A few days after reading it I feel that this was the first book I liked him in.

It was a nice change to have a police officer who wasn’t corrupt. Naomi, who became Aidan’s new partner early in the novel when Sutty was injured whilst on duty. I could sense her loyalty, despite the frustration she felt towards Aidan at times. Even when he hurt her feelings she didn’t abandon him. She was the only member of the force who I didn’t feel had a different agenda. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of her.

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox – Review.

About The Book

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 realises 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.

My Review

The Smiling Man is the second book in the Aidan Watts series. It is a series that I enjoy for its darkness, honesty and local setting. Manchester is a city I know reasonably well and I always enjoy reading a novel ‘knowing my way around’.

It is safe to say that neither Aidan, Sutty or Superintendent Parrs, who has the power to destroy Aidan would be the police officers who be my first choice for assistance. I think, after reading this book and learning more about Aidan’s life he would be the better option.

I was aware from reading Sirens of the problems that Aidan has had in his life. I knew he faced dismissal from the police for his actions. More of the hatred he faces from fellow officers and the control from the extremely sinister Parrs is revealed. You see the battle he faces with drug and alcohol abuse and living with what has happened in his past. I felt that most of the hatred felt was self hatred.

As well as the murder investigation, there was another story that ran through out the novel that concerned a young boy who had to assist a criminal. This side of the novel had more impact on me than any other part of the story. The guilt and fear for his sister’s safety if he’d didn’t do as he was told was chilling and often uncomfortable to read. More so, because it was so convincing.

I am currently reading book 3 in the series and I am loving reading the books together. It is highly recommended.

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans – Review.

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About the Book

What do you do next, after you’ve changed the world?

It is 1928. Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a cupboard, comes across a small wooden club – an old possession of hers, unseen for more than a decade.

Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women’s Suffrage Campaign she was a militant. Jailed five times, she marched, sang, gave speeches, smashed windows and heckled Winston Churchill, and nothing – nothing – since then has had the same depth, the same excitement.

Now in middle age, she is still looking for a fresh mould into which to pour her energies. Giving the wooden club a thoughtful twirl, she is struck by an idea – but what starts as a brilliantly idealistic plan is derailed by a connection with Mattie’s militant past, one which begins to threaten every principle that she stands for.

My Review

Crooked Heart was a book that I enjoyed very much so I was thrilled to see that Old Baggage had been published. You could say that it is a prequel, focusing on Mattie who was Noel’s godmother. She was only in the first chapter of Crooked Heart but it was evident that she was a character who had much to say.
Most of this novel takes place in 1928. Mattie lives with the brilliantly named ‘The Flea’. She isn’t hesitant at making her feelings known,not always with tact, and it’s something that gets her into trouble more than once. I did have some sympathy for The Flea, and in a lot of ways she was the character I preferred. I liked her reading about helping those who were worse off and her quiet devotion to Mattie.
I spent much of the novel trying to work out the connection with Noel and thankfully it was revealed who his mother was. She was the person I expected it to be, and at first I thought her reasoning for her actions a little cold but on reflection I don’t think they were. Just honest. I enjoyed reading Mattie’s memories of her life as a suffragette, it would be brilliant to read another ‘prequel’ and learn more.
Funny, poignant, honest, and revealing. Not just personally but also with attitudes at the time. Old Baggage is one that will be just as successful as Crooked Heart.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different.

My Review

Joan takes her son Lincoln to the zoo regularly. The trip starts just like any other but when they start to make their way to the exit they find themselves in danger. Gunmen are in the zoo and are shooting people and animals at random. Joan has to keep herself and her son safe and try and leave the zoo without being seen. She knows that she will not be able to use the exit so she needs to find the best place to keep them both safe until the situation is brought under control.
Much of the storyline is focused on the relationship between Joan and Lincoln. There is the danger they are in but the way she attempts to keep him calm, relaxed and communicating is a strong point in the novel. I loved his little stories and the way they interacted. But there are also small parts of the novel that focus on one of the gunman, a zoo worker and a retired teacher who was also visiting the zoo at the time. Two of these people have had a connection in the past, the teacher and the gunman. This, along with the teacher’s memories of former pupils was one of the parts of the novel that lingered in my thoughts. Another, very chilling moment concerned what was found in a trash can. The decision that Joan had to make, ignoring any emotions, just to stay safe.
The period of time covered is only a short one but the author demonstrates very well how even a short time can feel like an eternity when survival is at stake. I have seen some comments about the ending on other reviews but I liked it. I thought it was real, life continues without onlookers and I didn’t necessarily need to know what happened to each of the individuals concerned.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
You can purchase Fierce Kingdom from the 15th June at Amazon or Waterstones