Author: Doug Johnstone
Genre: General Fiction
Format: Paperback 300 pages
Release Date: 16 May 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Firstly I would like to thank Anne Cater and Karen at Orenda Books for inviting me to join in this Blog Tour and for the copy of this book provided to me for review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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?
This is one of those books that really gets you in the gut whilst reading. The unfortunate circumstances of seventeen year old Tyler means he hasn’t had the best start in life, in fact, he hasn’t really had much of a start at all. Being bought up by a drug addicted mother means he’s pretty much had to do everything for himself his whole life. Tyler looks after his young sister as well, making sure she has food on the table and she gets to school on time.
Whilst Tyler does appear to have a heart of gold he is essentially a thief, spending his nights scouting houses with his older brother and sister looking for anything he can take to make some money. Although Tyler has this illegal sideline, at the core, he is a really good person, and he is a character I felt a lot of empathy for. I really wanted to see Tyler and his younger sister succeed and better their position eventually.
For me this book boils down to many different and complex relationships between the characters. The relationship between Tyler and his mother is the most heart-breaking because this is a woman who is meant to be looking after her son and yet in this instance the tables are firmly turned and Tyler lands up having to do things that no son should.
The relationship between Tyler and his younger sister is one of pure love and is the most redeeming factor for Tyler to offset his criminal lifestyle. The way he cares for her and has her best interests at heart is beautiful to read.
There are many more complex relationships throughout this book and some of them are not always pleasant to read. I really enjoyed reading about how Tyler’s relationship with Flick progressed throughout the book. Here is a girl that probably couldn’t get more different from Tyler if she tried. She has money, was bought up in a nice home and goes to an exclusive private school. But somehow it just works and it added another dimension to this already multi-layered book.
This book for me is definitely character driven and if you like your books with complex characters and relationships then this is one I can definitely recommend.
About the Author
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.
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