What happens to those girls who go missing? What happens to the Zoe Nolans of the world?’
In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-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.
Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011. But where some versions of events overlap, aligning perfectly with one another, others stand in stark contrast, giving rise to troubling inconsistencies.
Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide.
Zoe Nolan may be missing presumed dead, but her story is only just beginning
True Crime Story is probably the most unique crime thriller that you will read this year. Although set in the same part of the country as the authors previous books, it couldn’t have had a more different feel to it with its concept of a true crime investigation with 2 authors corresponding about the book-one of whom is the author himself! Yes, he has used himself as part of the narrative that’s used to connect the interviews with the missing girls friends and family…and it works much better than expected!
Fans of true crime podcasts and the Netflix series will find lots to love in the why True Crime Story is formatted. Told mainly by interviews carried out by Evelyn Mitchell who is researching the disappearance of Zoe Nolan seven years after she vanished into thin air, this is a book full of suspects, red herrings and twists aplenty. If you love unlikeable characters who play their cards very close to their chests then there will be lots here to keep you entertained as the story of Zoe’s disappearance unfolds. But it’s the brief interludes where we read the emails between Evelyn and Joseph that I found the most telling and intriguing. There are parts of their exchanges that are scrubbed out so I wondered why and what was the author hiding! There are also newspaper articles, social media posts and photos throughout that add to the authenticity of the dialogue and the true crime feel of the book.
True Crime Story is a compelling and exciting standalone novel that felt authentically topical and the added twist of Joseph Knox being a character in his own novel gave a whole new dimension to the crime thriller genre. If you’re a fan of the Aiden Waits books then you will recognise the settings here and enjoy this just as much as Sirens, The Sleepwalker and The Smiling Man. The dark side of Manchester has never felt so disturbing! A must read for all lovers of “true crime”!
Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively. His debut novel Sirens was a bestseller and has been translated into eighteen languages. The Smiling Manand The Sleepwalker are the second and third books in the series.