Today I’m sharing a review for a book by a new author to me, Breakers by Doug Johnstone. If you are looking for a gritty, no nonsense, deeply moving crime thriller, then I may have just found the book for you……
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 pulsating, 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
This is the first book I have read by Doug Johnstone, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but one thing I wasn’t expecting was to have my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. Breakers could have been a depressing read considering it’s a modern tale of poverty, and deprivation, and yet it’s not, it’s a plausible and heartbreaking story, but buried amid all the ugliness is the beautiful and moving story of Seventeen-year-old Tyler who lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived area’s. The cards aren’t stacked in his favour, living with his junkie mum and younger sister, he lives hand to mouth stealing from people’s homes to support his family. The contrast between the affluent areas of Edinburgh and the more deprived areas are stark, but very credible. The author doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties of living in such a grim environment where violence, drugs and crime are part and parcel of everyday life for its residents.
I really did not expect to like, let alone sympathise with Tyler’s character, after all he steals from people’s houses, causing upset and trauma to the people from whose homes he steals. Yet once the author scratches away below the surface you realise Tyler isn’t all bad, his relationship with his little sister Bethany is heartwarming to say the least, he’s her loyal protector and desperate to shield her from the ugly and harsh realities of the life she has been born into. On the other hand, his relationship with his junkie mother is toxic, despite her shortcomings and she has many, Tyler still isn’t ready to give up on her, he sees things no child should have to witness, and it’s these scenes that are heartbreaking and harrowing, as the reader you want to wrap him in a big hug and tell him “everything is going to be alright” even though you know the realities of the world he lives in and the chance of him finding a “happy after” are slim to none. The author has the unique ability to create characters that despite their flaws, you find yourself rooting for, you feel their pain, experience their joy and cry at the injustice of the world we live in.
Doug Johnstone’s writing is superb every word, in fact every sentence has a deep impact on the reader, his characters are superbly depicted, and if this book doesn’t leave you an emotional wreck, then I’m sure you will be in the minority. Breakers is a searing and heartbreaking portrayal of modern day Britain, the author takes the reader on an emotional journey, one that at times feels uncomfortable, it packs a hell of a punch, you will find yourself questioning your own assumptions, it’s a book whose characters will remain with you long after you reach the last page. In case you haven’t already guessed I loved this book, and it will definitely be one of my top reads of 2019. Highly recommended to those who enjoy a gritty thriller with a powerful and moving plot.
- Print Length: 300 pages
- Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; (16 Mar. 2019)
Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧 Amazon US 🇺🇸
It will come as no surprise but I’m giving Breakers my Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.
My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.