“Breakers” by Doug Johnstone – Book Review #Orentober

Niddrie tower block

Niddrie tower block

Tyler lives in a tower block in Niddrie, one of Edinburgh’s impoverished neighbourhoods. He lives with his Mum and his little sister, Bethany (aka Bean). His Mum is an alcoholic/addict so the responsibility of caring for her and his sister Bean falls on his narrow shoulders. If that wasn’t bad enough, his elder brother and sister live in the apartment next door. Barry is a bullying thug, often drug-addled like their mother. He coerces Tyler into committing robberies with him with threats of violence against him and his little sister.

When one of their more lucrative robberies turns deadly, Tyler’s life takes a turn for the worse.  Frightened, guilt-ridden, and traumatised, Tyler seeks reprieve from his horrible situation. When he meets posh schoolgirl Flick, he wonders if she will be his salvation or his downfall. Or… will he be hers…

Constantly afraid for their physical safety, Tyler also lives in fear of being separated from his wee sister. He valiantly tries to keep their predicament away from the eyes of the police or social services. His life is a constant struggle.

Flick and Tyler would escape from their troubled lives by climbing to the top of Craigmillar Castle and look out at the city of Edinburgh below…

view from Craigmillar Castle

After reading several glowing reviews by my fellow bookbloggers, I knew that I just had to read “Breakers” and I’m SO happy I did!  I was grabbed by the first few pages and enjoyed every minute of reading this novel. WOW!


Although this is indeed a dark and gritty crime novel, I also found it to be heartbreaking in equal measure. Tyler and his little sister, Bean were such sympathetic characters that you couldn’t help but constantly wish that they could be removed from their disadvantaged environment and given the safety and security that they deserve.

Tyler adores his little sister and he not only provides for her, he tries to shield her from the ugliness and danger inherent in their environment.

The book is set in an Edinburgh that won’t be depicted on the tourist brochures. An Edinburgh riddled by crime and poverty which emphasizes the yawning divide between the social classes.

The character of Flick stood out in the book much like her car did in the seedier parts of Edinburgh. Altruistic, kind, and empathetic, Flick was a gem in Tyler’s life. In fact, besides his little sister Bean, she was the only good thing in Tyler’s desperate, grim, and bleak existence.

I loved Tyler. He was a truly good person born into one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve ever read about. Throughout, no matter what he did or was forced to do, I was rooting for him to endure and escape his horrible life.

This is a novel that I’ll remember for quite some time. One that will stand out in my memory years from now.

Written with skill, excellent characterization, and a firmly depicted sense of place, this crime novel is highly recommended by me. “Breakers” will definitely be on my ‘Best Reads of 2019’ list. I’m looking forward to reading more by this talented author.

I purchased Breakers” in Kindle format.

Here are the two reviews that persuaded me to read “Breakers“.

Review written by Jen Lucas and the review written by Lorraine Rugman.

I read this novel as part of the #Orentober celebration of books published by Orenda.

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.

Follow Doug Johnstone on Twitter.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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37 Responses to “Breakers” by Doug Johnstone – Book Review #Orentober

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  8. gayebooklady says:

    Great review Lynne…will definitely get a copy of this book!


    • I’m glad to hear it Gaye. Let me know what you think of it.


      • gayebooklady says:

        I have rarely read a book as quickly as Breakers (the weather certainly helped).and it is one of the best books I have read in sometime. It was perfect in so many ways….the writing, plot, protagonists…I felt I was there! I can see Tyler and Bean and was beside them as their story unfolded. I have read thousands of books and the Garnet Hill Trilogy has always been my number one; well, Breakers will be right behind!! I am now on a mission to read more titles by this author. Thanks Lynne for introducing Doug Johnstone to me…..it is always lovely to be introduced to a new treasure!!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. R A I N says:

    Its been a while since I read a crime fiction and this one sounds awesome!! AND I ADORE SIBLING RELATIONSHIPSSS and Breakers seems to promise that? 😍😍❤️❤️❤️ GREATTT!!

    I didnt know about this one before SO THANK YOU SOOO MUCH FOR YOUR AMAZINGG REVIEWWWW!! Loved it! 😍😍❤️❤️💕💕💕☔️☔️😘


  10. Great review Lynne. Living in Edinburgh made this even more realistic for me as I know the places the author is talking about. Definitely his best book yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. nsfordwriter says:

    I keep hearing great things about this book! I need to check it out.


  12. Awesome review! Do you like fantasy books? I have a tour I am running and was wondering if you wanted to join?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kelly says:

    Thanks for the #Orentober support, Lynne! I love this heart-felt review!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yvo says:

    Fantastic review! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed Breakers as much as I did. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  15. James McEwan says:

    I have met Doug and know how hard he works. I haven’t read ‘Breakers’ yet but my favourite of his books is ‘Crash Land’.
    (just some random info)
    Niddrie, the area described in the book was where Jane Park lived, UKs youngest lottery winner.
    Of course the tabloids love her–surprisingly she has a very strong business head on her young shoulders, although she almost died having cosmetic surgery in Turkey …. a bit daft.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Awww thank you so much for linking my review and so glad you enjoyed it, definitely one of my top reads this year Lynne x

    Liked by 1 person

  17. carhicks says:

    Wow, this sounds like a really good one. I love the plot of protecting younger siblings and that sounds like a real heartrending storyline. Dysfunctional families are also an intriguing draw for me. Will need to find this one for sure. Fantastic review Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sarah Hardy says:

    Great review. Loved this book. x

    Liked by 1 person

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