True Crime Story by Joseph Knox [6/10]

Imaginatively, Joseph Knox, in his fourth novel and his first standalone one, “True Crime Story,” has seized upon our passion for true crime podcasts and the like. A Manchester girl goes missing without resolution, a podcast investigator conducts an investigation years later, and then an author (named Joseph Knox, of course) needs to mop up the interlaced stories and evidence to finally seek justice. Comprising interview snippets with all the various suspects and acquaintances, and memos between podcaster and Knox, the plot is a maze inviting the alert crime fiction reader to piece together the vital clues. Knox is an energetic, talented stylist who nails all the various characters and maintains high tension throughout. I greatly enjoyed the antics of True Crime Story until … until the race homeward in the final ten percent of the novel. The trouble was, such episodic narrative construction stymies genuine character identification; in particular, “author Joseph Knox” eluded this reader. All up, True Crime Story is a stylish hoot of an experiment that many genre readers will lap up, but its experimental limitations can leave one flat after the final revelatory climax.

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