True Crime Story by Joseph Knox reviewed

True Crime Story Book Cover True Crime Story
Joseph Knox
Random House UK, Transworld Publishers
June 17, 2021

'What happens to those girls who go missing? What happens to the Zoe Nolans of the world?'

In the early hours of Saturday, December 17th, 2011, Zoe Nolan, a 19-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months.

She was never seen again.

Blending fact and fiction in his first stand-alone novel, Joseph Knox delivers a thrilling true crime story like no other.

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

Billed as “blending fact and fiction” True Crime Story is the tale of Zoe Nolan who goes missing from her student flat in Manchester in December 2011. This appears to be a journalistic investigation of an unsolved missing person or crime. There are email interactions between the woman who is researching this and Joseph Knox. They contain narrative from interviews with various people involved at the time. It is increasingly obvious that quite a bit was not discovered about Zoe when she first went missing.

In a sense I thought True Crime Story was quite a good story looking at it as a whole. There are numerous twists and turns in the narrative as aspects of Zoe and her friends’ lives are gradually revealed. I confess that I thought I knew the answer to this but I was wrong! From that view point I think this is a good story.

However I cannot honestly say that I got as much pleasure as I was hoping for reading this. I came to this as a fan of Joe Knox’s Aidan Waits stories. However here the narrative style of hopping between contributors was not one I really liked. I also felt that the first third at least was fairly slow. Certainly the pace and tension improved significantly from around halfway through.

The other aspect that I found puzzling and a little disappointing was the characters. It didn’t take me long to realise that I didn’t really like any of them very much although Zoe’s twin sister might be an exception to that. I felt no engagement with them or really the story for quite some time. Given that Aidan Waits is one of my favourite characters of recent years and his stories for me were very well written I found this odd.

I must stress True Crime Story is not a bad read. Far more it is a case of the fact it wasn’t the great read I was expecting. I can see that plenty of people love this so possibly it’s just me. Personally I would advise people new to Joe Knox’s work to start with the Aidan Waits stories. 3.5/5

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