The problem is that for someone who knows about evolution, the 96% are identical not closely related. In fact, it’s actually quite different. It means that the genomes differ in more than 1,000 places, while if these other viruses are indeed closely associated with SARS-CoV-2, we would expect a few. By comparison, they are as closely related as you are to a chimpanzee. Viruses accumulate changes faster than we do, but even so, this pandemic and outbreak are clearly separated by years or decades of independent evolution outside the laboratory. The book does not address this inconvenient fact, among many other things.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/amid-a-muddled-quest-for-covids-source-a-crucial-message/2021/11/11/a6c9ec96-38cc-11ec-9bc4-86107e7b0ab1_story.html | Viral Book Review: Matt Ridley and Alina Chan’s Search for the Origin of COVID-19