Blackwatertown has been described as LA Confidential meets The Guard.

Blackwatertown is “a fascinating story with intricate twists and turns… extremely intriguing.”

legendary thriller writer Frederick Forsyth, author of The Day of the Jackal, The Fox, The Kill List, The Odessa File and many more

“The beguiling and gentle quality of the writing belies the underlying sense of menace that drives the narrative and keeps you reading.”

Peter May, author of Lockdown, A Silent Death, the Lewis trilogy, the Enzo Files and many more

“Evocative and compelling, Blackwatertown announces Paul Waters as one to watch in Irish crime fiction.”

Brian McGilloway, author of The Last Crossing and the Ben Devlin and Lucy Black series

“A black, compelling journey into the crimes of a past forgotten. Waters brings to life a world that feels both darkly alien and all too real; an absolute must-read for any crime fan.”

Tony Kent, author of Killer Intent, Marked for Death and Power Play

“Extraordinary, abundant, dazzling and full of incident.”

Rev Richard Coles, author and BBC Radio 4 presenter, former Communard and Strictly Come Dancing star

“It’s comical at the start. Really cool writing quality and a nice voice. It’s very upbeat at first, but that’s how the second part of it catches you. It gets dark, man. Enough to punch you in the gut. Our hero goes through quite a journey. He is put through the mill something shocking. But it’s fantastic. It’s a really good book. I urge you to get a copy as soon as you can.”

Gerard Brennan, author of Disorder and Undercover

“Engaging and reads really well”

Peter Taylor, journalist and documentary maker, and author of Talking to Terrorists. A Personal Journey from the IRA to Al Qaeda

I was so immersed in Blackwatertown that I nearly missed getting the dinner. There are ingenious moments of comic relief as the story gets darker and darker. It’s stunning in more ways than one. I’m a bit shattered, just like after reading Dostoevsky. Though this powerful narrative has a welcome undercurrent of Spike Milligan running through it to keep you sane.

Póló, from the Photopol blog

Riveting, dark-hearted and darkly humorous… Sergeant John “Jolly” Oliver Macken, the thoughtful yet robust young Co Down cop in Paul Waters’ Blackwatertown, makes for a striking addition to crime fiction’s long and proud tradition of troubled policemen.

David Roy, Irish News

An intriguing tale set in 1950s Ireland… Charmingly written, but with an underlying sense of menace.

Scottish Field

Blackwatertown is a thriller with lots of twists and turns.

Berkshire Life

Hair raising tales and narrow escapes…

Chalfonts News

Dear Paul, Your book finally reached the top of my “To Read” pile and did not disappoint. I was intrigued by the character of Macken and the plotline, full of twists and surprises, kept me fully immersed in the Irish countryside. The [censored for spoiler] had me holding my breath, and the ending was fitting. Thank you for presenting me with a tale of love and loss, bigotry and kindness. I look forward to your next venture into print.

Jan Still, reader

It’s addictive! I really did enjoy this book, very much! I was curious, as it came highly recommended by a friend. I’ve tried to work out which genre it fits into: crime, comedy, romance, horror, history – but think it encompasses all of them. So glad it didn’t have a predictable ending; in fact, the denouement came as a complete shock. I held my breath sometimes, at others I laughed. It became more compulsive, the more I read. Thanks to my friend for the heads up about this novel!

Princess Pudi, reader

A riveting read – I couldn’t put it down. This is a brilliant story – well articulated and gripping. Once I started I continued for six hours and read it cover to cover ! Then I read it again. For those of us who lived through the fifties and early sixties – even from the distance of the UK Home Counties – it provides a superb context for the Northern Ireland “Troubles”. No hesitation in recommending this book.

Roger, reader

A tense and dramatic thriller that’s also funny and full of heart. Considering the time and place in which the book is set, I was expecting a dark, desperate and depressing tale, but it is, in fact laugh out loud funny in places. Don’t, however, be lulled into a false sense of security – this is still a dark and tense thriller, full of fast-moving action, explosions, shootings and deaths. But it is also a story of ordinary people, religion and superstition, intolerance, acceptance, love and (com)passion. As the novel progresses, the story, the action and the relationships between the characters become darker and more complex as they lead the reader towards a truly shocking, disturbing and unimaginable climax. The author takes time to conjour just the right sentence or phrase to perfectly and poetically describe a person or a location. It has a cinematic feel about it and the characters and scenes are brought to life through his carefully appointed words. This is a brilliant debut novel from the author which I enjoyed very much. In fact, it is so full of incident and action that it could quite easily have filled three volumes. And Jolly Macken is such a magnificent character that he should, at least, get his own three book series!

Janice Staines, reader

 I loved this dark, twisty, witty crime novel. I recommend this book to crime novel afficionados, history buffs and anyone with a family history in Northern Ireland. If you like quirky crime novels, you’ll love Blackwatertown. I relished every twisty page, because I was born in Northern Ireland, my ancestors were farmers and police officers and my grandfather marched with the Orange Order. Rural Ulster communities, like the 1950s townland sensitively described by Paul Waters, are part of my family history. When I read the account of Catholic Constable Macken’s enforced attendance at a social event in the Orange Hall, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Also, with its location on the border between Northern Ireland, which was then, and is now, part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is a staunch member of the EU, Blackwatertown casts light on the Brexit situation.

Patterson Loarn, reviewer

An adrenaline-fueled, poignant thriller with humour and a political edge.

Jane Hunt, reviewer

A gritty, historical crime noir. I really had no clue how much I would like this book, I only know the bare bones of Irish history. For me this was one of my favourite reads… The story follows Macken’s demotion and transfer and we see a cop, who wasn’t keen to stay a cop but who wants to find a killer and we also get to be pulled into a tense, gritty and dark thriller. I enjoyed the humour. It is a “You will either laugh or cry” type of thing. Not the light comedic kind, but blending into the story really well. As we get closer to the ending it gets darker and we are treated to an absolute corker of an ending. I think Jolly is a great character and we can only hope he has more adventures to come!

Shazza, reviewer

Atmospheric, pacy thriller. What a terrific novel this is. Set in a drab, divided Ireland in the 1950s, the novel conjures a simmering melange of resentment, prejudice and barely restrained violence. Paul Waters’ Blackwatertown is strong on Celtic atmosphere and plot – in several senses. Little wonder that one Peter May has been persuaded to give a cover quote. Yes, it’s that good. The RUC is accurately, if not entirely flatteringly described in this book. Three uncles on my mother’s side served in the RUC… The gripping plot kept me turning the pages until the ending, which provided a satisfying twist. Dashes of humour had me smiling and occasionally laughing out loud. This is really, really good stuff. I’d buy it if I were you.

Ewan Lawrie, author of Gibbous House and No Good Deed

Satisfyingly full of action and twists What a cracking read! The pace never drops. I cantered through as our hero, Macken, moves from dramatic scene to astonishing explosion to unexpected revelation – several times. I can’t remember such a high-pace read since Alastair MacLean and C.S Forester – there are introspective moments when Macken thinks about the situation and its many riddles but these moments resolve themselves as events provide answers or new questions. Waters also seems to capture something that, for me, is very Irish: the narrow border between tragedy and black farce. Lots of twists, right from beginning to end. I finished the book with the same deep sense of satisfaction as when you push back the chair after a Christmas dinner.

Jamie Cawley, author of The Birth of Now and Beliefs and the world they have created

I loved the twists and turns and the fast paced plot.

Pamela Scott, reviewer

A brilliant and pacey thriller which captivates the reader from page one. This story proves to be much more than a run-of-the-mill thriller. This book is brilliantly plotted and has many layers. It is laced with dark humour throughout. From the outset, one is on tenterhooks – because there seems to be a discordant note buried beneath the surface. One has to wait until the end before the answers are revealed. Paul Waters has told the story with linguistic skill and literary finesse.

Richard Walmsley, author of Dancing to the Pizzica and The Demise of Judge Grassi

A fascinating, dark and gritty historical noir that I really appreciated.
It was like travelling back in time and discovering places and event I never heard of. The author is a good storyteller and delivers an excellent story with an interesting cast of characters and a solid mystery. Recommended.

Annarella, reviewer

Recommended – This is an outstanding debut. There was intrigue, paranoia (from the main character), fascination, and crucially an element of surprise at the end. I liked the premise that it was set over a week – a lot can happen in a week as we all know, and it certainly did here. I found the main protagonist, Macken, infuriating and sad in equal measure, and I did wonder if there was more than one book in him – Macken I mean, I’m sure Waters has more! The historical context was also really good. So interesting. A good all round read.

Helen Foster, reader

Something special – This book has some beautifully lyrical paragraphs, but more importantly, the story is great. There are great twists and turns to keep readers on their toes. I just couldn’t predict how it was going to end and that’s unusual for me. There is so much in this book – it will make a great film.

Ruth R, reader

Ulster Intelligence – A compelling, sharply-observed read, with some thoughtful political nuances. It wears and weaves its historical learnings in deft ways around a half-familiar, half-lost world, and brings it to bright new life. Would recommend for fellow readers who enjoy intelligently-drawn protagonists, and involving plots. Am looking forward to the next novel (with similar filmic qualities) from the author.

CS Mangat, reader

Zips along at a cracking pace; tense, witty, with more than a surprise or two along the way. Highly recommended.

James NW, reader

An intriguing, gripping and totally absorbing tale of love and loss, faith and betrayal set in the border country of Ireland. The intriguing central character of Jolly Macken, a demoted policeman, finds himself torn by conflicting loyalties. I didn’t see the twist coming either. A great read.

Granjan, reader

A dark tale handled with humanity and humour. The action and the tension never let up. It does have its dark and disturbing moments but it is the humanity and occasional humour of the writing that sets it apart. The characters are realistic, the dialogue is brilliant (and often hilarious), the action scenes are thrilling and expertly handled, and the romance is charming and intriguing. A confident and accomplished novel. And you’ll learn how to pronounce Aoife. What more could you wish for?

Clarky, reader

Recommended read! I loved the setting and one thing that sets this story apart, is that while it is a thriller and there are suspenseful moments, there are also funny moments. I love the break up in tension.

I really enjoyed Blackwatertown! The plot was entertaining, characters were great, and I would definitely recommend it.

Jessica Belmont, reviewer

Strong novel. Waters does an excellent job developing his characters. Whenever I became complacent, something huge happened that shredded the complacency into pieces. Waters took the story in unexpected directions, and several major plot points surprised me.

Though this novel takes place in a different time and area than my own, I saw definite parallels to our own time. Equality is still illusory for too many people, especially minorities. Bigotry is rampant. People point fingers rather than take responsibility for their own actions and attitudes. And everyone must take sides. As Waters writes, “Life was a constant challenge to take sides.”

But which side is “right”? What if you, like Macken, have conflicting identities and belong to more than one side because of dual roles and identities? There are no easy answers, only uneasy ones. Ones that no one likes.

Blackwatertown is a dark story. But there are touches of humor, which Waters uses effectively to offset the violence and often bleak setting. I particularly enjoyed the one involving a dog and a wig. (No spoilers. You’ll have to read the book to understand.) This was a strong novel. I enjoyed reading it.

Meredith Rankin, reviewer

A thoughtful thriller – Sinister goings-on in rural Northern Ireland aren’t exactly brand new territory for fiction writers (Colin Bateman comes to mind) but Paul Waters offer a sardonic yet sensitive take on the genre. The location is crucial to the story. The nature of the border as an indistinct, liminal space – it defines the boundaries of the policemen’s authority, yet seems impossible to define itself – adds metaphysical oddness to what is essentially a period thriller, with the slightest whispers of Flann O’Brien. And I don’t think it’s too fanciful to see Thomas Hardy as an influence too, with the landscape as much an active, brooding participant in the narrative as the human characters. It’s grounded in the reality of time and place but, as the author reminds us in an afterword, it’s also a fiction, and the reader has to negotiate that fuzzy border too. The pace picks up with a succession of genuinely shocking (but ultimately plausible) plot twists and a rather beautiful, if melancholy, coda. If you want a well-crafted, thoughtful thriller peopled with believable, flawed characters rather than monochrome, two-fisted ciphers – and maybe a gentle history lesson on the side – read Blackwatertown.

Cultural Snow, commentator