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Breakers – Doug Johnstone

My thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for including me on this #Blogtour for BREAKERS by Doug Johnstone.

A pulsatingly tense, deeply moving psychological thriller from the Number One BESTSELLING Scottish author of Fault Lines

A toxic family, a fight for survival…
Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.
On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.
With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.
A pulsatingly tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers.

‘Doug Johnstone never fails to deliver’ Mark Billingham

THE AUTHOR


Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had nine novels published, most recently Fault Lines. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is drummer, vocalist and occasional guitarist for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

Such a great book cover design with smashed glass covering the sky line of Edinburgh

My Review:

We meet several characters during the book – but 17-year-old Tyler Wallace is undoubtedly the lead protagonist and he plays his role well. He’s had a hard life – brought into the world by Angela, his Mum, but downtrodden by his step-siblings Barry and Kelly, who bully him into submission, physically and mentally. He has a mature outlook on life for someone of his teenage years, but its because he’s had to grow up fast and learn quickly. He seeks love and guidance as he gets none from Angela, Barry or Kelly – and has never had a father figure around, he’s writing his own rules and caring for Bean – Bethany his 7-year-old sister, shes what keeps him going, it’s her he cares for and she loves him unconditionally.

Whilst under the misguided management of Barry & Kelly, Tyler endures being used to break and enter homes in the affluent areas of Edinburgh, he’s small and can fit in through open windows much easier than they can. Its do as he’s told, or take a beating from Barry. Unfortunately, Barry picks the wrong house and it ends in dramatic consequences. However, Tyler has the foresight to call 999 for an ambulance secretly, and this is why he is different to Barry and Kelly. They’ve all had the same ‘lacking in care’ style of upbringing, because of Angela’s nonexistent mothering skills. But despite this Tyler has compassion and self-worth. He seeks calm and quiet and its during one of these times, he meets Flick.

Flick comes from that rich side of town, goes to boarding school and is searching for excitement. Also neglected by her parents, who are working abroad for the Milatary, she wants adventure and finds Tyler thrilling. He sees the beauty in Flick and you can tell he adores her and would never let anyone hurt her. This means she becomes a bargaining tool, much to Tyler’s hesitation, he’s left with no choice in the end and does what he has to do, to beat the system and survive. To keep Bean and Flick safe, Tyler has to take drastic action.

Breakers is a thrilling and gritty read, taking you deep into Edinburgh’s dark side and onto a roller coaster ride of emotions. I felt for Tyler, he doesn’t have to look after Bean, but does, he loves her and would hate for her to be taken into care or to end up being used by Barry and Kelly like he is. Flcik is a great character too, I was unsure to begin with, and thought perhaps that she would lead Tyler ‘astray’ but they seem to even each other out and calm each other down.

Breakers is greatly atmospheric with descriptions of the castle and the streets leading them there, this enriches the story and builds the background – from the squalid and unkempt streets of Tyler’s life to the hedgerow-lined, paved driveways of Flick’s rich side of town. I really enjoyed Breakers and think its one of Doug Johnstone’s strongest books so far, swiftly followed by Fault Lines which I also really enjoyed.

To Pre-order the book click here – published by Orenda Books on 16/5/19 https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Doug-Johnstone/Breakers/23591025

@doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #Breakers

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