‘TO EXIT GANGLAND, THERE’S A PRICE TO BE PAID…’
Black Water is the phenomenal debut novel from Irish Writer Cormac O’ Keeffe. Described as ‘fast-paced, compelling and expertly plotted’, Black Water is published by Black & White Publishing.
Writer Brian McGilloway compared Black Water to The Wire but set in Dublin. Sam Blake is quoted as saying it’s ‘a chilling thriller’. The Irish Examiner’s Sue Leonard described it as ‘violent and gritty….sings with authenticity’
I was completely blown away by Black Water….
CRIME FICTION AT IT’S BEST!!
Read on to see why…
I killed the boy…
Jig loves football and his dog, hates school, misses his granda and knows to lie low when his ma’s blitzed on the vodka and tablets.
He’s just an ordinary boy on the mean streets alongside Dublin’s Grand Canal. Streets that are ruled by Ghost and his crew. And now Ghost- inked, vicious, unprincipled- has a job for Jig.
A job that no one can afford to go wrong- not the gangs, the police, the locals, and least of all not Jig.
I have to admit I had never heard of Black Water until I was asked would I consider accepting a copy for review. I love to support Irish Writers where possible and also it came to my attention that the author Cormac O’ Keeffe is the award-winning security correspondent for the Irish Examiner (or as I still refer to it ‘The Cork Examiner’!!)
To say I was so caught up in this book is an understatement.
Black Water is set in Dublin, right in the heart of the gangland crime factions, where the drug lords rule. These characters drive around in high end vehicles, like Hollywood celebrities, garnering the awe-struck attention of the youth. With a little cash just look what you can have!! These young fellas dream about escaping the dismal and depressing homes they live in. They want the flash cars, the designer gear, the wads of cash….and if they can see a way through to fulfilling these dreams, there is very little they will not do to achieve it.
In Black Water we meet young Jig. Only ten-years old, Jig already has ambitions. His brother Maggot has already taken the wrong road and his sister Donna is in a methadone clinic coming down off her addictions. His mother is a raging and abusive alcoholic and his father is the worst kind…. he is physically abusive, a very violent man. For Jig, life is very tough. At ten he has witnessed far too much and has been a whipping boy for his parents once too often. His sole companion is his dog, Bowie, who originally belonged to his beloved Granda.
But Jig sees a way out. If he can just ‘get in’ with the local kingpin, Ghost, then he would be able to get all the things he dreams of. The cool shoes, the respect, a waffle piled with ice-cream off a stand on Grafton Street, big dreams to a ten-year old boy from the inner city.
There is one very telling line in this book that stuck with me and that is…. by the time these young boys are twelve-years old, it’s too late….is it too late for Jig?
Meanwhile Detective Tara Crowe has had enough. Witnessing the aftermath of the violent attacks and the heinous crimes, committed by the so-called Canal Gang, spurs her on to clean up and clean out the scum that inhabit the area around the Grand Canal in Dublin. Tara is ambitious and is not afraid to dig deep and face up to the associates of these gangs. She crosses paths with many of these ruthless and evil characters, but is determined to not show fear and to eradicate the leaders behind the gangs once and for all. But what Tara had not reckoned on was how personal this journey would become…
Shay is the local football coach. All Shay wants is to keep the young lads busy, show them that there is an alternative life outside this ghetto. He wants to protect these children from the destruction and brutality of life on the streets. But Shay has his own demons and soon he is faced with decisions that will have a catastrophic impact on his own family life.
The title Black Water alludes to the waters of the canal and the darkness that lies beneath in the murky shadows, like the streets surrounding it. Life in the shadows of the Grand Canal is dark and dangerous. As Ghost spreads his talons out among the youth, the carnage escalates and the death toll rises.
For Shay, Tara and Jig life is about to change. Decisions are made, both good and bad, as earth shattering facts are revealed and we slowly begin to see behind the curtain of each of their lives.
Black Water is an astonishing debut that literally took my breath away. Not for the faint of heart, there are scenes that caused upset and revulsion, scenes that made me angry and disgusted, scenes that saddened me and opened my eyes to the society we now live in.
Black Water is a shockingly realistic book. It’s grim, it’s disturbing, it’s very emotional. It is uncompromising in it’s realistic depictions of a hard, difficult and violent world.
Black Water truly is a first-class 5* read and I cannot recommend it enough. All I ask is that Cormac O’ Keeffe follows up with the next book as soon as possible…I will be top of the queue!!
Purchase Link ~ Black Water
Cormac O’Keeffe is the award-winning security correspondent for the Irish Examiner – work that has given him unique access to contacts in the police and the community. He has lived near Dublin’s Grand Canal for many years; his professional and personal lives inform and fuel this novel, giving it the intensity, authenticity and originality of personal experience.
Cormac blogs about his writing, is a respected book reviewer and appears frequently on national radio and television.
Twitter ~ @COKeeffeWriter