Dark Waters was relaunched by IFWG Publishing Australia on December 15th 2016, along with my other crime-noir novella, Ronnie and Rita.
Each story a mirror-image of the other…
A bad man trying to become good.
A good man turning bad.
Both men motivated by love.
Brendan Reilly, a.k.a. Danny Boy, is a veteran of the Overlords, a Melbourne outlaw motorcycle club. A near-fatal accident leads him to an epiphany: he is determined to quit the life and reconnect with his ex-wife and son. At the same time, the Overlords are preparing for war against a rival gang, the Golden Jackals, and with Brendan’s loyalty in question he is pushed further into the war when all he wants is a way out.
Dark Waters was first published in 2014.
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EXAMPLES OF READER REVIEWS:
Caroline Angel (Goodreads) 5 out of 5 stars – A great insight into the bikie world, this read almost like a true to life story. The characters were believable and well constructed, the story harrowing and suspenseful. I do adore when a writer can take me by surprise and the ending here did just that. You almost find yourself shouting at Danny to turn around, stop!!! Loved this, would highly recommend it to anyone!
Robin Storey (Amazon) 5 out of 5 stars – Gritty and gripping. This novella hooked me from page one. Tight yet evocative writing, excellent pacing and tension, believable characters for whom I had empathy, even though the protagonist is a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang. This publication also contains the bonus novella Ronnie and Rita, which I had already read. I highly recommend this novella as well for the same reasons as above and I rate Ronnie and Rita as one of the best novellas I’ve ever read. Looking forward to more crime noir from this author.
Marta Salek (Amazon/Goodreads) 4 out of 5 stars – The two stories in this collection give us an insight into men who have made the wrong choices, and now have to live with the unpalatable consequences. What struck me most about Sheldon’s stories were their solidity and simplicity. She carries us gently into the lives and insecurities of two lonely men, one a gardener and one a bikie with less than savoury responsibilities. Where the latter longs to go clean after a car accident that leads him to question the path his existence has taken, the other is dragged by the woman he fancies he loves into a nightmare. The writing is solid and stark and very sad. The endings of both novellas are easy to guess but satisfying despite that. You wish for better outcomes but know in your heart that when you go as far as these characters have gone, nothing but disaster can be the result. A strong release from a relatively new publisher. Recommended.
ucat42 (Amazon) 5 out of 5 stars – Who is Rita really? WOW! Fast paced and intriguing, these two stories were well thought out, realistic and joltingly impressive. First person narrative was well done, I got a real feel for the characters thoughts and feelings, as well as their motivations in tough times and situations that not many of us would find ourselves in. Highly recommended, had me so hooked in I missed my train stop!
JUST A GUY THAT LIKES TO READ: REVIEW
DARK WATERS is a brief yet bloody glimpse at life inside the criminal element of the fictitious and notorious Melbourne biker gang – the Overlords. Author Deborah Sheldon tells this tale of violence, redemption, love, and death while looking over the shoulder of veteran biker Danny Boy – a longtime member of the Overlords who suffered a near death experience which ultimately made him want to start a new chapter of his life – one that takes him far away from his brothers on bikes.
Much like RONNIE AND RITA, Deborah Sheldon’s Aussie noir novella, DARK WATERS packs a punch in a short space of time, thrusting the reader head first into the underbelly of crime while also establishing Danny Boy as a likable character with loads of reason to redeem.
Throughout the course of the story, Danny Boy rekindles his relationship with his ex-wife and is reunited with his young son. At the same time, he’s beating up rival biker gang members and collecting protection money from tattoo parlours. It’s an interesting double life; one that comes to a head on collision by the book’s end.
DARK WATERS is a triumph through tragedy; a dark and uncompromising noir-like tale that is as much about the violence as it is about one man trying to escape it. 5 out of 5 stars.
CRIME FACTORY MAGAZINE / DOGEARED: REVIEW
When Brendan Reilly’s Commodore plunges into the murky depths of a dam, he finds himself in dark waters indeed. He emerges a changed man caught between two worlds. In one world he is ‘Danny Boy’, respected long-time patch member of the Overlords motorcycle gang. In the other he is ‘Brendan’, scumbag ex-husband to Nicole and estranged father to Max.
Brendan embarks on a dangerous journey of redemption, looking for a way out of the criminal life and back to his family. While he lays plans to leave quietly, the Overlords prepare for war against rival gang the Golden Jackals, and Brendan finds himself in deep.
Dark Waters is a novella that skilfully thrusts the reader into the world of outlaw motorcycle gang culture. The writing is tight, the plotting is meticulous and the pace is relentless; but it’s the detail in this punchy piece that sets it apart. Every word is selected to make the reader feel something, whether it be physical (early on I was so caught up in Sheldon’s description of the sinking car that I found myself breathless) or emotional (the anxiety and alienation of rooting for a violent anti-hero).
Deborah Sheldon’s assured handling of the language, hierarchy and power dynamics of the Overlords gives Dark Waters just the right amount of gritty realism without feeling contrived. She uses this to craft a dark and corrupt portrait of Melbourne, building a sense of foreboding and a crescendo that left me wanting a stiff drink and a lie down. Each character quietly nods to a noir archetype and then offers more: Nicole plays the ‘good-woman’, but she’s also tough and resourceful; Ellery is the villainous Vice-President of the Overlords, but he’s also compassionate.
Dark Waters also features a bonus novella, Ronnie and Rita. Ronnie and Rita will creep up and punch you in the face with its pace, tension and sophisticated character development. You have been warned!
What Sheldon has created with Dark Waters is a ripping journey of moral ambiguity and a very enjoyable read.
This review of Dark Waters first appeared in Crime Factory 18 in March 2016.