When people talk about Edinburgh, they talk of the Royal Mile, the castle, Arthur’s seat and the Fringe every August. With all that beauty around, people tend to forget the other side, the forgotten, and the sink estates. Doug Johnson brings to life the forgotten and never mentioned side of Edinburgh, where life is hard and it is dog eat dog.

Tyler has a lot on his plate, seventeen, still at school, caring for his younger sister and his drink- and drug-ravaged mother. His elder brother, Barry and sister, Kelly, have bullied him and coerced him into robbing the houses of those richer than themselves. He could not say no to Barry, as he was handy with his fists, both he and Kelly carried the marks to prove it.

One night, both Barry and Kelly are high on cocaine, and it shows, when they pick a rather nice house, no alarm, no lights on and more importantly, detached. Things do not go well on the job, when Barry stabs the homeowner when she returns home. Out of guilt Tyler calls an ambulance for her, and this plays on his mind. What he did not realise that this job will turn into a living nightmare, as Barry has stabbed the wife of Deke Holt, the biggest crime lord in Edinburgh.

When Tyler hears who it is Barry stabbed, he bunks off school and goes for a wander round the posher parts of Edinburgh, where after breaking into another house he meets Flick. Flick is the opposite of Tyler, private school, someone he finds it easy to talk too. Will she be his salvation or will his family drag Flick down with the rest of them?

Doug Johnson delivers a beautiful, horrifying and off the scale thriller. There is no dragging the story out, over 200 pages, he delivers an engrossing thriller, which some cannot do at 400 pages.

Johnson reveals how some of the poorest live and it is not a pretty sight, these the forgotten are trying the best they can. Unfortunately, they think that crime is the only way, along with the drugs to try and forget where you live and what your real situation is. At the same time, the story is intense and pulsating, proving why he is not only one of Scotland’s but the UK’s top thriller writers.

Once you start Breakers you will want to finish in one sitting and hope that there is a better outcome for Tyler and Bean, but the only way to find out is to read their story.

Paul Diggett 5/5

Breakers by Doug Johnstone
Orenda Books 9781912374670 pbk May 2019