McIlvanney Prize 2019
‘I went to Bloody Scotland and I was just knocked out….this event was so friendly, so supportive I was honestly overwhelmed’
William McIlvanney – speaking on BBC Scotland, 2012
Three years ago the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award was renamed the McIlvanney Prize in memory of William McIlvanney who is often described as the Godfather of Tartan Noir. Last year his son, Liam McIlvanney, won the prize and led the torchlit procession through the streets of Stirling alongside Denise Mina who was appearing at the first event.
This year David Baldacci is opening the festival and will be leading the torchlit procession flanked by the winners of the McIlvanney Prize and the inaugural debut prize for Scottish crime book of the year but who will they be? The longlist for the McIlvanney and the shortlist for the debut prize are revealed today:
McIlvanney Prize 2019:
All the Hidden Truths, Claire Askew (Hodder)
No Man’s Land, Neil Broadfoot (Little, Brown)
Fallen Angel, Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
Breakers, Doug Johnstone (Orenda)
All That’s Dead, Stuart MacBride (Harper Collins)
In the Silence, M R Mackenzie (Bloodhound Books)
Broken Ground, Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
A Breath on Dying Embers, Denzil Meyrick (Polygon)
Conviction, Denise Mina (Vintage)
The Way of All Flesh, Ambrose Parry (Canongate) aka Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman
In a House of Lies, Ian Rankin (Orion)
A Treachery of Spies, Manda Scott (Transworld)
Thunder Bay, Douglas Skelton (Polygon)
Breakers by Doug Johnstone
Review by Kelly Lacey
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.
Review by Kelly Lacey
I went into Breakers expecting something quite extraordinary after reading all the reviews and book blogs, the bar was set very high. I finished Breakers exhausted, humbled and truly satisfied. Doug Johnstone has done something truly unique in capturing the very essence of a place and portraying it so honestly and bringing it to life like it was a character and not a place.
We meet Tyler who lives in Niddrie with his junkie mum and his little sister Bean. Tyler’s lifestyle is tragic and unfortunately true to life for some people. For me I had the bonus of knowing the places in the book. I have grown up around them, I live in Musselburgh where the character Flick is from. Niddrie has always in my almost 40 years been known as the “rough” area. I remember dating a boy in high school and that got short shrift when my parents knew he lived in Niddrie. Over the recent years it has had a huge overhaul and an influx of money poured into the area. Niddrie Mains was demolished, and private houses went up. There is a difference as you drive through it you can see it, but the past still lingers almost haunting the suburb. Niddrie plays a huge role in Breakers and Doug Johnstone captures it perfectly.
Tyler meets Flick who is worlds away from his Niddrie life. Even though it is only about twenty minutes away. She lives in Musselburgh and attends a private school which is a real place and is about a fifteen walk from my house. Growing up
I went to the local grammar school we would never have spoken or hung about with the private school girls. Even now, the schools don’t mix even though they are very close to each other. Tyler and Flick’s worlds colliding has drastic consequences. I enjoyed the balance of the two extremes. Rich and very poor and the dynamic of them coming together was genius.
My journey with Breakers was so enjoyable I didn’t want it to stop. It is so realistic, and the characters are so believable. Little Bean has a starring role and I think everyone who reads the book will fall in love with her. The whole reading journey you are disgusted and disturbed that people live like this. It really is one step up from being completely homeless. Living in squalor with little to no food and surrounded with junkies and dangerous people. It feels hopeless and that is the very core of the book. Feeling stuck with the inability to see change or have hope.
Breakers deserves all praise it has been given and then a whole lot more. Doug Johnstone has achieved what many authors attempt but fail to do. He has written fresh and original Scottish crime fiction that has the potential for an epic series.
Breakers is disturbing, dangerous and heartbreaking, more, please!
Five big stars!
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