Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Whilst trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addicted mother, he’s also coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings.
One night whilst on a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead. And that ’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because they soon discover 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 terrible danger, Tyler is running out of options, until he meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house. Could she be his salvation? Or will he end up dragging her down with him?
Breakers was published by Orenda Books on the 16th May 2019. Many Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and for having me on this fabulous blog tour.
Just before I started reading Breakers I was given a heads up that this book cries out to be read in one sitting so I thought my travel to Paris (sadly for work not pleasure!) would be perfect…and indeed it was, the journey home flew by as I immersed myself in Tyler’s story.
Breakers takes its reader to a particularly undesirable area of Edinburgh where Tyler lives with his drug addict of a mother and therefore bringing up his younger sister single-handed. Tyler’s older siblings have taken up residence next door; Barry is a nasty piece of work who is a bully, controlling and most definitely getting Tyler travelling down the wrong path – Kelly isn’t much better but is easily led by Barry.
Barry has Tyler involved in robbing rich houses and one night the burglary really doesn’t go to plan – what they don’t realise is that the house that they have targeted is that of Deke Holt, Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord. When Barry stabs Deke’s wife and leaves her for dead, their problems only just begin.
However, whilst everything seems to be crashing down around them, Tyler meets Flick who’s background is very different to his own, but they gel immediately. Flick attends a private boarding school but has issues of her own that she is dealing with so in that respect, they are not so different.
Tyler is an amazing protagonist, Doug Johnstone has created a character that you immediately care for. Tyler is a victim of his circumstance, generally a gentle soul who wants nothing more than to have a normal family but in the absence of that, his one and only priority is the care of his little sister. In pursuit of ensuring that she has a relatively good upbringing and the coercion from Barry, he has got himself involved in criminal activity – but to be fair, Barry isn’t someone you say no to. Barry is an absolutely vile character (kudos to the author for creating a character that I truly hated with all my being!!) who didn’t care who he hurt, he even enjoyed being intimidating to his little sister.
Breakers is an addictive and dark read so I was pleased I had about 4 hours of train journeys to devour it! What is both gripping and absolutely chilling is that this is a portrayal of true life for some. Sadly kids like Tyler are caught up in things they really shouldn’t be exposed to, all to literally make ends meet. Throughout the whole book my heart was in my throat, worrying about Tyler’s safety and the knock-on effect that Bean, his little sister, would experience if anything happens to him.
Breakers is a hard-hitting and gripping novel which I couldn’t put down – the author’s flawless writing transports his reader to both the deprived and rich areas of Edinburgh (which in this instance are only about 20 minutes from each other), demonstrating what individuals will do when pushed to their limits. A great cast of characters that were well-developed, each contributing in different ways to the fantastic overall storyline.
Highly recommended – all the stars!!
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 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.