Published by Hodder & Stoughton,
6 September 2018.
6 September 2018.
Set in the 1950s, Breathe is an atmospheric debut novel that captures the essence of post-war London with its rationing, poverty, shortage of decent housing and the pea-souper fogs that blank out the city for weeks at a time.
Dick Bourton is a probationer police officer adjusting to life after coming back from the war and preparing for the arrival of his White Russian fiancée, Anna, who he met while doing military service in the Far East. When an older colleague is shot by a small-time gangster they are chasing in the fog, Bourton begins to make connections linking a whole series of deaths during pea-soupers. Unfortunately persuading his superiors proves difficult for a probationer officer and risking his career to do so Bourton is forced to pursue avenues of enquiry in his time off, calling on war-time acquaintances to help him out.
The sense of place is really powerful. The level of detail the author has used creates an evocative atmosphere where the reader experiences the realisation that nothing has been untouched by war. The book has a claustrophobic feel with the ever-present fear of the return of the fog and resulting murders where the murderer is simply invisible.
At its core Breathe is a book of hope, of rebuilding after devastation. For Bourton in his new career and marriage the reader knows it will be a bumpy ride especially as his new wife is hiding a lot of secrets. A thoroughly enjoyable read and I look forward to the sequel.
Reviewer Christine Hammacott
Dominick Donald was brought up in Britain and the US before reading Modern History at Oxford University. When his service in the British Army was cut short through injury he tried writing TV scripts, teaching at universities in Japan, and a lot of travelling in Central Asia before starting a War Studies PhD at King's College London. Stints as a foreign affairs and defence editorial writer at The Times, as an official at the UN in New York, and as a contributing editor at Silicon Valley's Red Herring magazine led to a political risk start-up in London in 2002. Ultimately its Head of Geopolitics, he acquired an unusual expertise on issues ranging from Somalia-based piracy to Iraqi politics. He now works as a freelance political risk consultant from his home on the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire border, where he lives with his wife and three children. Breathe is his début novel and the first of two thrillers set in his childhood home, Notting Dale, in the 1950s.
Christine Hammacott lives near Southampton and runs her own design consultancy. She started her career working in publishing as a book designer and now creates covers for indie-authors. She writes page-turning fiction that deals with the psychological effects of crime. Her debut novel The Taste of Ash was published in 2015.
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