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April 01
Black Water by Cormac O'Keefe

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Cormac O’Keefe’s debut novel is not for everyone, it is relentlessly bleak, revealing a side of Dublin that most acknowledge exists but few beyond those who inhabit this world have anything other than the vaguest awareness.  As a security correspondent for the Irish Examiner, O’Keefe has both professional and personal experience of the gangland communities depicted, enabling him to produce a work of intense authenticity that manages to horrify and yet compel the reader to forge onwards through yet more mire, ever hopeful that things will work out while fearing the worst.

The story centres on Jig, a ten year old boy, who lives for football and his dog, having little else positive in his young life. His brother and father are both heavily involved with gangland crime and his mother cares for nothing beyond the alcohol upon which she depends.  When ‘Ghost’ a gangland leader offers Jig jobs carrying messages, he feels proud to be chosen to be part of something!

Things go downhill rapidly upon the death of a woman who received one of Jig’s notes.  Shay, his football coach, realises Jig’s involvement and fearing for his future tries to help him.  But Shay has plenty on his own plate, trapped by blackmail he struggles to keep his family safe in in a volatile and hostile environment.

The third protagonist is Garda, Tara Crowe.  She is determined to bring down the gangs that terrorise not only the community but the officers who try to keep the peace.  As each attempt is foiled she becomes convinced that the gangs have infiltrated the Gardai.

As the tension mounts the three threads pull closer together in a story that races forward like a car chase, with none of the excitement, just chest-clutching fear.

This is a brilliantly plotted and scripted novel, an absolute must-read for lovers of realist noir.

Submitted by Lorna

Available as paperback

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