Cover Image: True Crime Story

True Crime Story

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I had to stop this book to consult Google after the first couple of pages as I was convinced that I was reading non-fiction and didn't ever recall hearing about a missing student called Zoe Nolan.  It was that convincing for me.

This book is very cleverly done, I read it as a galley but I'd imagine a physical book will be better.  The reason why is that the story is split up in to interviews with a multitude of people along with email transcripts.  They all pertain to the disappearance of Zoe Nolan.

So who is Zoe?  She is a 19 year old student attending Manchester Uni.  Along with her twin sister Kim, she lives in student accommodation within a rather grim tower block with several other girls.  None of them know each other until this point.  Zoe had hoped to attend a course at the Academy of Music, but she didn't get a placement so ended up attending the same university as Kim.

Kim is not pleased one bit about this, Zoe is a golden child.  Their overbearing father is convinced that Zoe is a wonderful performer and has pushed her to the limit, it has gotten to the stage that Zoe seems to believe her own hype.  People love her, she is pretty and blonde and both girls and boys want to be her or be with her.  Kim is the opposite, she lives in her sisters shadow and despises the fact that her father thinks Zoe can be some sort of star.  She'd hoped life in Manchester would be a new start for her without the constant presence of her sister.  Of course that doesn't happen.

The girls start to enjoy student life but the flat isn't perfect, things start to go missing.  Inanimate objects like keys can easily go missing but when it is discovered that all of Zoe's underwear has disappeared, well a sense of unease settles in on the flat.  But they sally on, Zoe finds a boyfriend, Kim goes Goth, they try to make friends and enjoy their new life.  All that comes crashing down when Zoe goes missing after a raucous party.

I can't really tell you too much more without giving things away but this book quickly becomes creepy, all of the characters (and there are quite a few) fall under suspicion.  This is really a book within a book.  The emails I mentioned above go backwards and forwards between Joseph Knox (yes the actual writer of this book) and his friend Evelyn who writes a book about Zoe's disappearance.  They speculate on the characters and what they could possibly be hiding.

This is an intriguing read, with many twists, turns and I didn't see that coming moments.  A great read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review
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This story is centered around Zoe Nolan, a 19 year old student university student, who goes missing in 2011. We are taken through the events leading up to her disappearance, by people who know her. Her twin sister, parents, friends, and investigators who are working on the case.

This is a compelling read and I felt like I was putting together the pieces of this puzzle as each part of her story drew me in further. This story has dark and unsettling moments, Zoe's university accommodation raises some eerie questions and I felt creeped out a lot of time while reading this book, and was led to a very dramatic ending.

A worthy read for true crime fans, who love twisty turny stories
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This is my first Joseph Knox novel and I was so intrigued by the premise of this and as I was a student in Manchester myself, many years ago the setting really appealed. This started superbly and I found myself really drawn into the different voices and perspectives and loved the originality of it. However, after a promising start ,I found myself losing interest about half way through and found the characters immensely unlikeable. So sadly, overall this was a disappointing read for me.
3.5 stars
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC.
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Nothing beats stories with unreliable characters.

Evelyn Mitchell  is a journalist  thats wants to find the truth of what happened to Zoe Nolan after she disappeared in Manchester.  She recruits Joseph Knox, a crime writer as someone to bounce her ideas with. 

I personally enjoyed how the book is mainly written in the fit of emails and transcripts of interviews of the friends and people involved. Who do you trust? Especially when the same event can be described so differently! 

I think the book was really well pulled off since there were so many different characters and all of them were themselves and it was possible to differentiate them by their differences. 

There were parts that may felt a bit farfetched but I was so absorbed by the story that overall that did not impacted negatively my reading experience at all.

Having had another book by Joseph Knox on my shelf and waiting to be read for a while, I have to confess that I will have to make the time to read it as soon as possible. 

I would like to thank Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Doubleday and Netgalley for an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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Zoe disappears on the eve of leaving Manchester for the Christmas break and is never seen again. Some years later, the writer Evelyn Mitchell decides to investigate and commences interviews with Zoe's friends and other interested parties. During this period, she consults with fellow writer Joseph Knox for advice and support.

This is the 2nd edition of the story and it appears that Knox has played some part in the writing of the story and has also incurred the displeasure of the publishers. Additional notes and corrections have been added to this edition to counter the negative publicity.

The narrative builds slowly with input from a range of characters but really bursts into life with a string of revelations that may or may not be relevant to the case. There is also the added mystery of why Knox has taken ownership of this edition of someone else's work.

A decent mystery and an intriguing exploration of the writing process and the blurred lines between fact and fiction.
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True Crime Story is Joseph Knoxx's first standalone novel after his great Aidan Waits series. Its a fictional novel, thats meta, in that it features Knoxx as himself corresponding with his friend Evelyn via email as she looks into the mystery of the missing Zoe Nolan. The novel is split into sections that tell the story of what happened the night Zoe disappeared via interviews that Evelyn has taken from each of her friends and family. 

The whole novel has a crimewatch feel about it. We have the infamous night of the disappearance told from different perspectives and of course unreliable narrators. There are plenty of red herrings and a very menacing feel throughout as the novel progresses and the revelations come thick and fast. 

Unfortunately my netgalley copy made a couple of the email sections pretty much unreadable which tarnished the experience slightly. I could still gather what happened though from the following chapters, but still. 

All in all this is a very ambitious novel which must have taken a hell of a lot of time and effort. I have to commend Knoxx for having the balls to try, and to actually mostly pull it off. Well worth a read.
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What happens to the girls that go missing? In this unique story that blends together fact and fiction, we follow the last days of Manchester university student Zoe through interviews and emails from her family, friends and the investigating officers. 

I thought this was a unique and different twist on the genrez and because I use to be a university student at Manchester I could vivid picture the places Zoe visits and the parallels with my own past. There's a distinct atmosphere that permeates the story, almost as though it's perpetually on high alert, with plenty of tension to create s high stakes environment. The various secrets that are eventually uncovered are also very satisfying and unpredictable. 

Howeverz the set up the book, by following events through other people's eyes, did leave me feeling a little disconnected from Zoe. She's like an enigma, one we never really get to explore and understand. I wanted to delve more into her pyshe, and try and form some kind of emotional attachment to her and her life. I never really got that. Most of the supporting characters are also rather unlikeable, leaving me feeling a little cold and detached from the case and it's mysteries. It's also a little slow to start, and quite confusing, until we start to pull the case together around 50% of the way through. It felt like an uphill battle at times, but the payoff was worth it if you don't mind the pace. 

Interesting concept, that I feel doesn't quite pull of what it set out to do. A more compelling lead character that gave the reader a chance to connect with them would have been a benefit. Howeverz it's well written and well crafted with some big twists.
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*3.5 stars *

I loved Joseph Knox’s The Smiling Man, so when I saw that he had written this stand-alone, True Crime Story, I was really excited to read it.

Listed as a blend of fact and fiction, the storyline revolves around missing 19 year old Manchester university student Zoe Nolan, who went missing from her university halls of residence in 2011, and was never seen again. 

Readers are taken through events leading up to Zoe’s disappearance by way of accounts and emails from her twin sister Kim (a student at the same university), her parents, friends, and also the police and professionals investigating this missing person case.

This was a really hard one for me to review, it’s just so different from Knox’s Aidan Waits series, and I admit to being irritated and confused initially, I just found it difficult to grasp something that (for me) felt quite disjointed. However, slowly and gradually, Zoe’s story, (that is) the story presented to us by the aforementioned characters, pulled me in, and from then onwards, I found it a more compelling read. He said/she said/ they said - but what is the truth of it? I didn’t know who or what to believe, but I (eventually) enjoyed the journey.
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When I started reading this, I honestly thought it was real life, or at least based on it. It's very confusing in a good way mind as it's so clever at the beginning, you  don't know what is real or what isn't.

It feels like a podcast, scrapbook  kind of story. It does get confusing however and I struggled at times to see what I was reading and who was speaking. Was it a case of the book being too clever for its own good. Not sure but I've read another book where the author is in the story and that read clearly for me.

I'm on the fence with this one. I can appreciate it but feel there are other novels = the Six Stories series for example that do the 'examination of a seemingly real crime in a novel' idea. This fell far short of that but it did still provide a lot of entertainment.
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Zoe Nolan goes missing after a party in her Manchester student digs.  
Seven years later, efforts to keep her case in the public eye continue.  
Evelyn Mitchell is a journalist is writing a true crime story about the case and wants to find the truth as a way to make sure her book has a powerful ending.  She enlists a crime writer called Joseph Knox as a mentor and sounding board.  
This book is told entirely in the form of transcripts from interviews with interested parties, all of whom are unreliable narrators; notes and clippings from secondary sources; emails between writer and mentor.  We are told umpteen versions of the same story, but with varying perspectives based on the interviewees' agenda, the passage of time and both writers' arrangements of the documents in the case.    
This is a very difficult trick to pull off and Knox does it incredibly well, managing to give each interviewee their own voice and style, building up to the final tragedy.  I was gripped by the way suspense built and more was revealed at each stage.  There were some plot points that stretched credibility, but all of them were convincingly explained.  
I wished it had ended differently, of course I do.  I will now seek out Mr Knox's other work.
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Zoe Nolan, a student, goes missing one night after a party and is never seen again. Logically, one would expect some kind of police procedural or an individual taking on the investigation and, eventually, a conclusion is reached. Not so, in this case.
The story is presented as a series of emails between Joe Knox and Evelyn, a fellow author, plus transcripts of interviews with Zoe's fellow students and her family. I have read similar formats to this before and have been captivated by the story but True Crime Story is so disjointed, it's a really hard slog to remember which person is speaking and at what point in the events that occurred as they don't have very distinctively 'different' voices.. The story seemed to go on for a very long time before anything actually happened. By the time it did, I'm afraid my internet had waned.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I absolutely loved this book. Hooked from the very first page, I felt I was standing beside Evelyn and Joseph trying to unravel the mystery of Zoe's disappearance. There were a few reveals I really didn't see coming. My heart broke for Kimberley and how awful her father was to both her and Zoe. I zoomed through it quickly, always wanting to return, eager to find out. The resolution was satisfying and I'm sitting here wondering how much is fact, how much is fiction. It's a dark story but one I devoured. Thank you for the opportunity of an advance copy. I'd give more than five stars if I could, it'll be a hard one to top.
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True Crime Story by Joseph Knox is the story of a missing girl in Manchester, Zoe Nolan, despite what the title suggests it is fictional, though Knox places himself in the book as a character, a writer under fire for not disclosing his involvement, which gives the story that feeling of "did this really happen?"

Zoe Nolan is a twin, attending Manchester University alongside her twin sister, who goes missing one night after a party. Because Zoe is blonde, pretty and a talented singer her case gets a lot of attention as do the people around her who may or may not be to blame for her disappearance.

The book features a character called Evelyn Mitchell who Joseph Knox meets at a book signing when she approaches him to tell him about the case of Zoe Nolan. Evelyn is investigating the disappearance and writing a book about it and Knox becomes a writing mentor for her. Evelyn sends chapters and updates to Knox by email, and discusses the case and her theories with him. Much of the book is taken up with in person interviews with friends and family of Zoe and some is news features about the case, which again gives the story a feeling of reality.

And, in part, there is no reason why this couldn't be a "true" story. People do go missing all the time. A quick look at the Missing Persons UK website will show you that there are a disturbing number of people who go missing every day in the UK. Some turn up safe and sound in a few days or weeks and others remain unheard of for years, with no trace at all. The few cases that make a big splash on TV and newspapers tend to be either young children or pretty white girls (preferably middle-upper class if you don't mind), indeed this phenomena is so marked it even has a name "Missing White Woman Syndrome".

So while this book features such a missing white girl, who attracts a lot of publicity, I did feel that the writer was shining a light on the media practices which facilitate this. We see the lives of those around Zoe fall apart as various friends and acquaintances are vilified in the press and all but accused of murdering Zoe. Anyone who remembers the case of Joanne Yeates, will recall that her landlord Christopher Jeffries was questioned by police about her murder. He was innocent and another man was later convicted of the crime, but not before Jeffries had his life torn apart by six newspapers who later paid him an undisclosed sum for libelling him. This case is an example of an "ideal victim" with a potential suspect who fitted the bill, so it must be him. 

Where the book excels is at identifying the fallout for the friends and family of Zoe after she goes missing. Cracks appear as suspicions rise, and with no conclusive outcome, the lives of the people around Zoe crumble to pieces. Zoe, or her body remain unfound, but life goes on without her. As Evelyn is interviewing it becomes apparent that they all have their own axe to grind and their own ideas about who was responsible for Zoe's disappearance. It also becomes apparent that Zoe, the ideal victim, wasn't all she seemed and there was a darker side to her that she was keeping hidden from her nearest and dearest. 

The use of a twin sister for Zoe also allows Knox to play with the old "twin switch" trope. In their conversations by email Evelyn raises the possibility that Zoe killed her twin so she could take her place and remove the pressure of being the "good twin" from her life. This is quickly dismissed, but it seemed that Knox is enjoying playing with some of the tried and tested crime standards. 

Without giving too much away the book does reach a conclusion, though not the one you might expect. There is no Perry Mason moment when a crucial witness suddenly reveals it was them all along and leads police to the body. Zoe remains missing and actually her case remaining open and inactive feels like the most realistic ending there could be. It's hard to accept that someone can just vanish and never been seen or heard of again, but it happens. In fiction, as in life, humans like their stories all wrapped up and tied with a bow, but Knox makes the brave choice to not lead us to Zoe, wherever she may be and leave the mystery unsolved.
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The most exciting and original crime book you’ll read this year. Really enjoyed this. Unique idea brilliantly executed.
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Thought I would love this book as I am a big true crime fan - but this book was an absolute mess. Confusing writing style, a strange mishmash of nonfiction and fictional elements, and the author injected too much of his personal opinion into the narrative. Not a responsible true crime book, it felt too salacious and honestly an insult to the family.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for the arc of True Crime Story by Joseph Knox.

4 stars- This is a great read, havent read the books before this but this was a great book, it is told like a transcript for a documentary!  Mix of fact and fiction mixed together! This focuses on disappearance of a woman named Zoe from Manchester.  This story is told through interviews from key and main characters of the story which is very interesting and intriguing! 

highly recommend
4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Well, that was something else completely. Genius. Couldn't put it down. Loved the element of blending fact with fiction. 5 stars from me.
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I think as you can see, it took me awhile to read this one. Almost a month! I found it hard going at times. I am still really confused if this was all fiction or elements of it were true or all of it. Also the added parts in about the author, really made me more confused. anyway as a whole concept it was good. I love true crime so that style in a book is the first time I’ve read something like this. I definitely think it’s worth people’s time, it got better as the book went on. However I had to power through to finish which I don’t really like.
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Brilliant book.  Enjoyed the twists and turns.  Not usually the type of book I would read but definitely recommend it.
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True Crime Story - Joseph Knox

Don't let the title put you off.

This is a fictional missing person crime thriller presented as journalistic research conducted by (the fictional) Evelyn Mitchell and the author Joseph Knox.

Constructed from emails between the two, and transcripts of interviews with the key participants with the occasional newspaper report.

The format works very well, especially in presenting multiple character recollections of key incidents.

The story follows the aftermath of the disappearance of Zoe Nolan, a first year Music student. Kimberley is her twin also a first year student. Zoe's friends, parents, Police and members of the press also feature with different characters coming and going at different stages on the investigation. 

The characters really come alive through their own words, especially Kimberley and Jai, the Asian outsider who has a hard time of it.

 The 19 storey brutalist tower block Owens Park (a real building) is their halls of residence and plays a key role in the story.

As a novel, I enjoyed it, there is a feeling of piecing it together from the transcripts.

I enjoyed the the setup and the body of the novel more than the ending. I felt involved even gripped for the first 80% while merely interested to see how it would wrap up for the last 20%.
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