The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox reviewed

The Sleepwalker Book Cover The Sleepwalker
Aidan Waits
Joseph Knox
Random House UK, Transworld Publishers
July 11, 2019

‘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?

Or will his name be next on the hit list?

The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox is the third and latest book featuring Aidan Waits. Waits and Sutty are off the night shift for now. Their new task is quite simple. A man convicted of murder who Sutty arrested some years ago is terminally ill. He is hidden in a room in the local hospital and under armed guard. The idea is that Sutty (and Waits) will keep an eye on him. Martin Wick – called the Sleepwalker because of the crime never disclosed where the body of the last person he killed was left. The hope is that before he dies he will reveal the information. While this duty is going on there are a series of blackouts. What could possible go wrong… If you haven’t read the previous books in this series you may enjoy this more if you read them before this one.

Not for the first time Knox’s intro in this book is extremely dark. Those of a nervous disposition may well be best avoiding this series. Those who like “dark” and “nasty” should find this to their liking! Certainly Aidan Waits’s journey in this is very dark and tortuous. Sutty has a well deserved rest (!!) early on in this and Waits gets a new partner in the shape of Naomi Black. The question is why? Given that Wick made a full confession to his crime it seems strange that there is much to investigate really.

This is dark and bleakly humorous as I said before and Aidan is in trouble again. I really do find him one of my favourite troubled cops in the UK these days. His background – steadily revealed over the series so far – is very well worked. His role as a cop whose only use is being a scapegoat has been exploited previously but it still works well. The other characters are well written and the scene setting is very good. The writing makes for very easy reading and I finished this all too quickly.

Joseph Knox has become one of my favourite UK crime authors. He writes dark and nasty very well but there is a lightness of touch and humour at times too. The pace here is excellent and the tension – particularly around the time that everything seems to be over – is extremely good. The strength of Waits’s character when things look dire (frequently!) shows just how well this author writes. I’d happily hand out a 6th star for sheer enjoyment if I could – another one please.

My review of the previous book in the series is here

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review