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…
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“.
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.