Summary and book reviews of The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox

The Smiling Man

An Aidan Waits Thriller

by Joseph Knox

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox X
The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jan 2019, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the acclaimed author of Sirens, damaged Detective Aidan Waits returns in a mind-bending new thriller that will have everyone asking "Who is the Smiling Man?"

Aidan Waits is back on the night shift, the Manchester PD dumping ground for those too screwed-up for more glamorous work. But the monotony of petty crimes and lonesome nights is shattered when he and his partner are called to investigate a break-in at The Palace, an immense, empty hotel in the center of the city.

There they find the body of a man. He is dead. The tags have been cut from his clothes, his teeth have been filed down, and even his fingertips have been replaced…

And he is smiling.

But as Waits begins to unravel the mystery of the smiling man, he becomes a target. Someone wants very badly to make this case disappear, and as their threats escalate, Aidan realizes that the answers may lie not only with the wealthy families and organized criminals connected to the Palace, but with a far greater evil from his own past.

To discover the smiling man's identity, he must finally confront his own.

1

The heat that year was annihilating. The endless, fever dream days passed slowly, and afterward 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. You could see the sparks--the girls in their summer clothes, the boys with their flashing white teeth--everywhere you went.

There's a particular look on their faces between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. Falling in and out of bars, kissing on street corners, swinging their arms along the pavements. Whatever's happened to them before is long gone and, for a few hours at least, they feel like tomorrow might never come. Most of them are students, sheltering from the economic downturn in degree courses they'll never pay off. The others work ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Scandinavians may be currently producing what is considered the golden standard of noir, but The Smiling Man offers something a little different. It is steeped in sweat-drenched heat rather than snowy cold, and trades Nordic brooding nihilism for British wit.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review Members Only (493 words).

Media Reviews

Metro (UK)
Talents such as Knox rarely emerge more than once in a generation. A crime fiction masterpiece.

The Guardian (UK)
Promises to be a classic series.

The Sunday Express (UK)
Sirens was one of the best books published last year and this intense, blackly comic follow-up is just as good. Joseph Knox has conjured up a sense of evil and corruption you can almost smell it.

The Sunday Times (UK)
Imperfect as Aidan Waits is, the Manchester DC is the shining light in a world peopled by the worst kinds of bad people. This is Knox's second Waits book in what holds the promise of a classic series.

The Daily Express (UK)
Dripping with dark humor, written with style, a dark and engrossing ride.

Booklist
Another gripping, darkly poetic entry in a series worthy of comparison to Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor novels.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. With his second novel in what looks to be an enduring series, Knox takes his place alongside such writers as Val McDermid, David Peace, and Sophie Hannah in making Manchester a destination for crime fiction.

Author Blurb A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
Joseph Knox writes electric novels. His prose is neon-tinted; his plotting high-wattage. A major voice in fiction, and a writer of furious talent.

Author Blurb Jane Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Dry
If you liked Sirens, you will love The Smiling Man. Gritty, noir, and packing a punch from the very first page.

Author Blurb Ian Rankin, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Rebus novels
Gritty as hell. I loved it! A great urban cop thriller

Author Blurb Val McDermid, Internationally bestselling author of Insidious Intent
Dark and stylish, but also that rare thing - complex and impeccable plotting to complement the writing. This guy is the real deal.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Fingerprint Alteration

Mugshot of notorious gangster John DillingerIn Joseph Knox's noir thriller The Smiling Man, the police can't identify the murder victim because the man had gone to extremes in order to conceal his identity. Clearly a person in an occupation that required anonymity, he had resorted to perhaps the ultimate means of operating under the radar of law enforcement authorities. He had modified one sure method of identification – his fingerprints.

It is commonly accepted that fingerprints are unique to each individual and that it is nearly impossible to change them. While the former is certainly true, the latter is up for some debate, depending upon the depth of a person's pockets and/or their pain threshold. Motivation, or shall we say, desperation also plays a part.

In the 1930s...

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