Breathe

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Member Reviews

Enthralling story, I was captured from the very start. I loved the descriptions of London life during those pea-souper  smogs of the early 1950s. The author really brought the period to life, describing the grim homes and lives of the people and the situations they were living and working in. Plus, the murder mystery aspect, the pursuit of a serial killer working in the fog! Absolutely brilliant! I loved the way the true story of Reggie Christie was woven into the story- very clever- as well as the reflections on the war in Korea. Brilliant historical murderer mystery- I will definitely be searching out more from this author.
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A historical crime thriller debut from an author fans of this genre will want to keep an eye out for after reading this book.
Well written, engaging and highly entertaining.
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Set in London in 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Nottinghill. He's older, having fought in Europe and then Korea. Then there's Anna, the beautiful White Russian financee he brought back with him. The new policeman also has a mind of his own. A serial killer lurks in the dense fog of London where he can catch his prey more easily.

The story takes a while to get started. The plot line is intriguing but the story is so long, you tend to lose track of the characters when they are written back into the chapters. I liked the way the fog was described and the effect that it had on some people. I was not keen on the authors style in writing, there was just a bit too much informal that was irrelevant to the story. It just went on far too long. A good attempt at a debut novel.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Hodder & Stoughton and the author Dominick Donald for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Against the background of London 'peasoupers' a serial killers attacks his victims in a way that leaves no evidence of a crime.  It is the suspicion of a policeman, investigating whilst off-duty, that solves the crime.  Added to this are the events of 10 Rillington Place.  Well written, interesting characters.  Definitely worth reading
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Breathe

What an amazing debut; this murder mystery is original and different and very difficult to put down. It's set in London, 1952. As a child, I remember city smog. It was sulphurous and choking and really made you catch your breath with difficulty. Breathe, in title and content, captures that all encompassing choking and cloaking in more ways than one.

The story starts with a murder during the blitz. The narrative then moves to 1952 and a probationary PC who's keen to make his mark in his new job. He discovers a body and despite ribbing from his colleagues, it's clear there's a serial killer on the loose. 

Dominica Donald's writing is superb. A skilful blend of fact and fiction brings this historic setting to vivid life. It's filled with a rich assortment of characters including war veterans, war wounded, refugees,  spivs and wheeler dealers and the dialogue is natural. The skilled plotting keeps you guessing and this was a book I truly didn't want to finish. I was totally immersed in a different time and place and gripped from start to finish. A brilliant debut and I'm desperate to read more by this author.

My thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for a review copy via Netgalley.
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This is a very good read. The author has captured brilliantly what I remember of London from days out as a child in the 50s and, in fact, the Nottinghill area wasn't that different in the early 70s when I lived there in a little basement flat. Pea-soupers had gone, but the contrasting characters of the deprived Dale and the wealthy Hill in the 70s are recognisable from this novel and, unfortunately, remain so.

The plot is fascinating, weaving fact into the fiction and giving enough back-story of the main characters for the reader to understand (sometimes, eventually to understand!) their behaviour and attitudes. Even the different areas of London and the countryside have their own well depicted character, as does the weather.

I am very pleased that the ending is also a new beginning and hope that this means that we shall hear a lot more about Richard Bourton.

As I think that part of the last fifth of the book dragged, if I could, I would award it four and a half stars. However, this is definitely not a four star book, so it gets five stars from me with thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me a copy in exchange for this honest review.
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Breathe is the debut novel by Dominick Donald and is set in London in 1952

The main character in the book is the pea souper fog that envelops London and allows a murderer to work undisturbed until a new mature probationer policeman Richard Bourton aka Dick Barton questions what he is told when the latest victim is found.

Bourton is also having problems with new his wife, Anna, who clearly has her own secrets 

The author has clearly researched in depth and the underlying story is a good solid one. Unfortunately there seemed to be just "too much" happening/ being talked about and this distracted from the story. It also made the book feel overly long which was a disappointment.

Saying the above I would probably give the next book a go as Breathe is overall an OK read.
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Hurrah and welcome to a real new talent. This is the first book I have ever seen or read by Dominick Donald and I was totally captivated by what is a wonderful atmospheric thriller that captures the mood, look and feel of post war London.

The plot is complex, detailed and credible and the characters beautifully drawn.

I was totally drawn into this evocative and exceptionally well written thriller from the opening chapter and can heartily recommend it.
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This is a densely written and ambitious historical crime fiction debut from Dominick Donald set in 1952 London where the echoes and repercussions of the war are writ large on a country where poverty and rationing outline the austerity that is the lot of most people. The gloom is exacerbated by the thick and life threatening pea-soupers, a fog that regularly descends on London, giving rise to serious health threats, and amidst which a stealthy serial killer moves, taking advantage of the opportunities this offers. A veteran of two wars, Europe and Korea, PC Richard 'Dick Barton' Bourton, is a probationer patrolling the grimy and rough patch of Notting Dale, struggling to fit in, not given to dropping in the pub with fellow police officers. He is looking forward to the arrival of his fiancee, Anna Timofeyeva, whom he met whilst in military service. Bourton finds Lithuanian Jonas Sarums Senkas, beaten almost to death. This takes him and DC Athill to the former Lithuanian embassy where answers are hard to find. Senkas is removed from hospital, returned to the embassy, as fears for him, possibly from the Russian secret service loom large.

Anna's arrival dispels many of the fears Bourton had about their relationship, and their marriage takes place. Initially happy, Anna's health deteriorates with her chronic cough, the soot and fogs not helping her in the slightest. Anna is a woman with secrets she dare not reveal to her husband, this and her health condition makes her ripe to the claims made for masks and breathing apparatus by many a charlatan, which leads to an attempt made on her life, but she tells no-one of this. Bourton goes out on a limb, putting his career at risk, when he is the only one that believes the death of Gladys Hartnam is murder. Despite being warned off, he persists in investigating in his own time, making use of wartime contacts, eventually joined by his senior officer, Bart Parkin when John Foley indicates that numerous deaths ruled as natural are likely to be murders. Bourton is an exceptional police officer, but an embarrassment to the police and medical service who have failed to spot a prolific killer known as The Traveller, and his inadvertent contact with another killer who gains nationwide notoriety with his House of Death, puts his Met career under threat.

The level of detail and rich descriptions in this story are to be admired, although perhaps the clarity of the storyline sometimes get lost because of this. What I particularly liked was the character of Anna, a woman of surprises, feisty, manipulative, and dangerous, a wife that Bourton goes on to feel that he barely knows. Donald blends fact and fiction, often taking liberties with events and individuals. The inclusion of the infamous Reg Christie, as well as The Traveller raise the suspense and tensions sky high in this compelling historical crime fiction with a complex central character. A great read with an incredible sense of the time in which it is set. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
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