Book Review | True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

Title: True Crime Story

Author: Joseph Knox

Publisher: Doubleday

Release Date: 17th June 2021

Source: NetGalley
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.
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. 


  1. Oh wow, I need to read this. This sounds amazing. I love that it felt so realistic you had to check if it was nonfiction or not.


    1. It was, I was confused as I was sure I should have heard about it!

  2. Hi Heather! This sounds soooo good. I've read a couple of cozies lately and now I need a pallet cleanser. Does that make me too weird? Will keep an eye out for this one.

    Elza Reads

  3. I thought this was a non-fiction book just seeing the title as well. What an interesting concept. I like it when they mix up the format with things like reports and emails. I'll have to check this one out.


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