Breakers is the new totally gripping thriller from Doug Johnstone. It tells the story of young Tyler Wallace and his dysfunctional family. He is coerced into taking part in housebreaking with his older half brother and sister. Half-brother Barry is violent and volatile and not to be messed with. They live in a deprived area of Edinburgh and have had a tough life. Tyler lives in high rise blocks, his half siblings on drugs and involved in all kinds of criminal activity. His mother is a drug addict and alcoholic and completely unable to look after Tyler and his wee sister Bethany, known as Bean. One night on a housebreaking job, things take a bad turn and Tyler and all his family are in danger.
An unlikely friendship with Flick, a boarding school pupil at Loretta offers Tyler a glimpse of a different kind of life. But Flick is keen to point out that just because she is from a wealthy family, it doesn’t mean that she and others like her don’t have problems too.
I know the areas mentioned in the book which aren’t far from where I live. As the author says, the deprived areas are cheek by jowl with the more affluent areas. I am well aware of the bad reputation these areas have, which inevitably get associated with the people who live there as well. What I liked about this book is that Doug Johnstone shows through Tyler that, of course, not everyone from deprived areas are bad. Most people are just ordinary folk getting on with their lives, looking after their families, with all the same hopes as everyone but maybe not the same opportunities. Not that Tyler is completely without flaws but he is a good person at heart, stuck in a bad situation and making the best of things.
This book had me totally gripped as I sped through the pages. It’s harrowing at times, particularly when reading about the kind of life Tyler’s family live. Thank goodness little Bean had Tyler doing his best to protect her from the more unsavoury aspects of his brother and mother’s lives. It’s also a book which challenges the readers’ perceptions of people who live very different lives. I had my heart in my mouth at several points, particularly near the end of the book when danger was never far away. But above all, it’s a darkly brilliant thriller filled with tension and humanity.
My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me an early review copy of the book. Breakers will be published as an ebook on 16th March with the paperback to follow on 16th May. You will find buying links for book shops and online retailers on the publishers website: Breakers
From the back of the book
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.
About the author
Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. 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 the drummer 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.
Follow him on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com