The third novel of the Aidan Waits thrillers and Joseph Knox gets better and better. This is as dark and as gritty as crime fiction gets. The whole series is spectacular as Knox is writing in a league of his own with a unique style reminiscent of some of the greats of the genre: Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler to name just two.
Aidan Waits is a protagonist British crime fiction has been crying out for; a walking time-bomb of a detective, unpredictable, complicated, and a host of great one-liners when facing off against some of Manchester's most evil crime leaders. He's damaged, self-destructive, and everything he touches falls to pieces, but it's difficult not to love him. In the hands of a lesser writer, Waits could have been a cliche, but Knox has hit the mark perfectly.
'The Sleepwalker' is a dark and gritty read. The electric pace kicks off on the first page and is relentless throughout. There's an explosive set-piece that is incredibly well written that you'll feel the heat coming off the page. All the story unfolds and the tension mounts, we learn more about Aidan's shocking past, which explains why he performs the way he does.
There are not many crime novels that can put the reader through the emotional mill, yet 'The Sleepwalker', will leave you shocked by the crime, grieving for the victims and their families, saddened by Aidan's past and crying by the final page.
There is a sense of a finale about this book, as of this is wrapping up the trilogy rather than a third book in a series. If that is the case, Knox will have written a pitch-perfect trilogy that will be remembered for generations to come as a masterclass of urban noir. If there is a fourth book, it will be most welcome.
Joseph Knox does for Manchester what Ian Rankin does for Edinburgh. There is, however, one difference, Knox is no follower, he's his own voice, and he's dangerously talented.