Number of pages: 417
Joseph Knox's debut novel opens with its anti-hero character, Detective Aidan Waits, sprawled out on the pavement; narrating the whole book, he tells of how he's been missing for the last month.
Right from the start, I was able to see that Waits is a deeply flawed character, like all the best literary detectives; he is a drug addict, and - as I found out later in the book - he and his sister ended up in an orphanage when they were younger, because their mother didn't want them. This was only briefly touched upon in this book, but because this is the first in a series about Waits, I suspect it will be fleshed out in future titles.
This book has Waits being charged with finding Isabelle Rossiter, the daughter of a politician, who had gone missing; he finds her quite early on, at a party in the house of Zain Carver, a drug dealer who Waits has been forced to investigate. It turns out that Waits is undercover, attempting to weed out a corrupt police detective, who is in the pay of Carver. The whole sting operation is his last chance to save his career, after he stole cocaine from an evidence locker.
I found this to be a very gritty, noir-style novel, with adult themes from the start, including rape as well as drugs, and it turned unexpectedly into a murder mystery book in a way that I won't spoil here. I also appreciated how ambiguous the book's title was, in that it wasn't clear what type of "siren" it was referring to; police sirens, or some of the potential femme fatales who Waits finds himself attracted to. It didn't take me long to find myself gripped by this book, and wanting to find out what happened next, and I found Aidan Waits to be a fascinating, well-written character, and will definitely get the second book in the series, The Smiling Man.
Next book: Rotherweird (Andrew Caldecott)