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Breathe

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  199 ratings  ·  31 reviews
A stunning debut crime novel for fans of Robert Harris, Philip Kerr and C.J. Sansom's Dominion.

London, 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Notting Hill. He's older, having fought in Europe and then Korea. And he's no Londoner, being from Cotswold farming stock. Then there's Anna, the exotically beautiful White Russian fiancée he has brought back to these
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Kindle Edition, 528 pages
Published September 6th 2018 by Hodder and Stoughton (first published September 2018)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  199 ratings  ·  31 reviews


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Paromjit
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 opportun ...more
Louise Wilson
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Set in London in 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policeman 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 as the story is so long, you tend to lose track of
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Gram
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I have to admit I struggled to finish this book. While it is presented as a crime novel, it reads more like a social history of London in the early 1950's. Debut author Dominick Donald has obviously carried out a wealth of research but I thought at various times in the story there was just too much information - e.g. a long winded discussion between two policemen and a member of the coroner's staff about various types of deaths, especially of elderly people, during the infamous "pea-souper" fogs ...more
Annette
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This has a great sense of place, London early 1950's, and lots of atmosphere with the fog and location. The way people speak and their attitudes of the time are well reflected. But there's a but.

Although I'm only a short distance into this book there are two things that are making me reluctant to carry on. The writing style is a bit irritating at times with short staccato sentences or longer sentences with staccato sub clauses that consist of a list of impressions. It's as though the only thing
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David Wasley
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
War damaged London in 1952 is described in excellent, atmospheric detail. But the story is way too long and would benefit from vigorous editing. The sexual relationship between the two main protagonists seems far too libertine for 1952 and is unconvincing. It's an OK read but finishing it requires determination.
mr c hallam
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A good editor could have made this an outstanding read for me a wonderful plot has been smothered. The gem of this book is the description of post war London I felt I was walking those foggy streets. The plot is good, the description of life as a Probationer in the Met is fantastic, characters are well written it's just too long by a couple of hundred pages.
Nigel Toye
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I think the aim was very ambitious and impressive. It fails to achieve it fully because the writing is difficult to read at times because of a wish to cram too many impressions into a sentence with a staccato and rushed style.
The London setting works, but the emphasis on the Fog ambience is overwritten and laboured at times.
Ceecee
Feb 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I liked the premise of the book and was interested in the setting of London in 1952 which was still suffering from the effects of the Blitz. I liked some of the descriptions for example, the pea soupers which towns suffered through the 50’s and maybe early 60’s and I have vague recollections of those. We even had to have a ‘fog address’ when I was at school in case they were so bad we couldn’t get home! However, the execution of the book was so laborious and man, oh man, the detail! 🙄I got so fe ...more
Greville Waterman
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Colin Mitchell
The author states in his notes at the end that the story was a long time in the writing and it was certainly a long time in the reading. Set in an interesting period of the early 1950's and using a man who had served at the end of WW2 and subsequently in the Korean war and then joined the Metropolitan Police in London. The use of known murderers and the thick fogs to make a "Ripperesque" story was a good feature. Unfortunately the writing labours along at a tedious pace, often giving me a disjoi ...more
Amy Appleby
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book for 99p on Kindle after it was reviewed in a magazine I read. I wish I hadn't bothered. I toyed between a two and a three rating for this book the entire way through. I couldn't get used to the writing style - short, sharp sentences that made no sense on one page and then long, detailed prose on the next. It was almost as if two different people were writing it. The plot was very intriguing. A serial killer lurks in a thick fog in London in the years after WWII. It took far ...more
Eleanor
3.5, maybe - stand by.
Jo
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I listened to this as an audio book so that may have coloured my view, but while in some ways it was well written it also seemed over-written. Listening to it I got bored and felt it would benefit from some serious editing. The story itself was good, but I couldn't wait for it to end an almost gave up but was half way through so persevered.
Leanne Smith
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
A real case of love and hate for this book. It took a long time to get into it without wanting to just give up and in general it was very long winded with little flow to the sentences.
However, 1950’s foggy London is a great setting for a crime novel and the plot was great as were the characters.
Susan Doherty
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has received loads of favourable reviews and is feted to win awards but I’m not so sure. There are some really great things about it, the sense of place, the atmosphere, London just after the war, the descriptions of the petty crime that abounded in a city full of people trying to get their lives back together. The plot itself is really good however the book is too long and you lose your thread sometimes and when a character re-emerges you have to go back to find out again who they are ...more
Breakaway Reviewers
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unusual crime thriller in 1950’s London

This novel begins with a prologue from November 1940, as rescuers and medics try to drag the injured from the wreckage of German bombing in London. It is here that The Traveller is born.

Fast forward to the death of King George on the 6th February 1952 and Police Probationer 491, Richard Bourton, comes across a badly beaten man while walking his night-time beat. The victim seems to be a Lithuanian called Jonas Sarunas Senkus, and he i
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Studvet
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Could have been a higher rating (at least a 4.5) if not for the style of writing he uses. He doesn't always make things clear so has a character talking, and different things suddenly appear that confuse u and then back to where u were. Once u get used to the style it's a lot easier but often u have to slow down or re - read. Things don't always flow and sometimes initially confuse. Initially, I didn't think I would finish the book because of this but once I got used to the style I really got in ...more
Ruth Ginarlis
Jul 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
BREATHE
Dominic Donald

Dick Bourton is at the beginning of his career as a policeman in London’s Notting Hill in 1952. He is older than the average recruit, having served in the army in the Second World War and then Korea. He has a Russian girlfriend who clearly has suffered terrible tragedy in her past and is haunted by it. Bourton is assigned to the murder of an Eastern European immigrant, and finds that this leads to a tangled web of intrigue and deception.

I had ve
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K A PARROTT
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this book but also struggled with it at times, hence it took me 6 months to finish when I normally read a book every two days. However, it was compelling enough that I wanted to finish. It’s very cleverly written with a terse style that reflects the military/police career of the main character but can seem to go into overwhelming and unnecessary detail at times. I was also annoyed that the relationship between Dick Bourton and his wife Anna was such a substantial element to the whole plo ...more
Lesley
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
I thought the overall idea of basing the crime in the smogs of the early 50s was interesting but unfortunately as a whole novel this didn't really work. The whole thing was far too long and the writer unnecessarily drew out the thoughts of the characters which didn't really add much to the plot or in fact the personality of the main people. There were too many strands to the plot, some of which again seemed unnecessary. I assume the writer was trying to write in the way people might have spoke o ...more
Simon Gosden
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
London 1952, when the smog descend no one can see or do very much. It's a perfect stage for con men and criminals. Dick Bourton, recently arrived back to Blighty from Korea, finds it all very strange. A new exotic and mysterious wife, a new home, a new job in the Met and when body of a woman found in her own home next to a cup of cocoa but dressed to go out he starts to have suspicions that something is wrong, very wrong. Intricately plotted, historically accurate, you can almost taste the parti ...more
Jill
Oct 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Thought "what?" about ten times too many. Bloated, disjointed, borderline incoherent in places. Only worth reading to imagine what the "London fog" was really like, and get inspired to look up lots of eerie pictures of it, and wish for a book worthy of it. An attempt to be creatively faithful to reality mostly only succeeds in driving a wedge between the reader and the characters they're probably meant to relate to...
David James
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was so frustrating as it had so much promise, with one really heart stopping moment. A good plot, sound characters, lots of atmosphere.... But far too much detail and 200 pages too long. Mr Donald has great potential but needs an editor to advise him on overpacking a novel. The intense detail confused me in the end, and made the novel a long haul that I had to skim through in the end. Do it again, it's promising, but I was in a fog of my own at the end.
John Feetenby
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Fiction and reality collide in this blitzed, befogged and considerably accomplished crime novel. The weary chaos of postwar London is convincingly evoked, and the characters are vivid and memorable.
Lynn
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Desperately in deed of severe editing.
Blue50p
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eleanor
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Quite enjoyed it but very long and the descriptions so detailed they were difficult to comprehend
Margaret
Jan 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Didn't finish, wasn't for me.
Sorrento
Breathe is an atmospheric thriller set in the 1950s London where a serial killer is able to murder his victims under the cover of the smog. The hero and chef narrator is Met Police probationer Dick Bourton recently home from military service in the far East. He has a new wife who he met in the Army and together they have set up home in London. The plot traces Bourton’s struggles to establish himself as a credible copper in a tough neighbourhood and get his ideas about the possibility of a serial ...more
Katrina Oliver
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t ...more
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Dominick Donald was brought up in Britain and the US before studying at Oxford University.

Stints as a soldier, a lecturer, a UN official and an editorial writer, plus a War Studies Ph.D., led eventually to political risk analysis for a large London firm, which he left in 2016 as its Head of Geopolitics.

He has written editorials for The Times and US business magazine Red Herring, and reviews for
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