Instead of the typical “Mystery Monday” post you all have come to know and love (just agree with me on this one, okay?), I’m hosting a blog tour stop for The Jump by Doug Johnstone for y’all! Why do you care? Because a) this book was super fun and addictive and I read it in a day, and b) you can win a copy for yourself just by scrolling down!
The Jump by Doug Johnstone
Published by Faber and Faber Ltd on August 6th 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Struggling to come to terms with the suicide of her teenage son, Ellie lives in the shadows of the Forth Road Bridge, lingering on its footpaths and swimming in the waters below. One day she talks down another suicidal teenager, Sam, and sees for herself a shot at redemption, the chance to atone for her son's death.
But even with the best intentions, she can't foresee the situation she's falling headlong into - a troubled family, with some very dark secrets of their own.
I had very little in the way of expectations for this book. I knew the synopsis and knew I had to read it by today. When I started it last week I certainly didn’t expect to finish it in a day. This is the perfect thriller/suspense novel for someone with a short attention span (that would be me). Johnstone wastes no time getting to the plot, and each page turn has new plot reveals, more excellent character development, and invokes more stress on the reader (WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THESE PEOPLE!??).
Here are some of the things that I loved:
- Johnstone made the main character, Ellie, who lost her son 6 months ago to suicide, a perfect amount of emotionally unstable/irrational. Her attachment to the boy she prevents from jumping off the same bridge her son jumped off of is a little intense. But in a totally realistic sense. No normal woman would have gotten herself in the mess that Ellie got herself into in this novel.
- The marriage. I figured this novel would depict the remnants of a family who have lost their one and only child the same way most do: circling the drain. They certainly (and understandably) had their issues, but I love how their storyline resolved.
- As I mentioned before, this novel is a quick read. The length of it is perfect! Long enough to include all the details without bogging the story down. To me, there were no wasted words.
I would definitely recommend this to any lover of thriller/suspense novels.
Since my favorite thing about book blogging is recommending my favorite books to people, I asked Doug if he could recommend some of his favorite crime novels to you all! Here’s what he said (also: he’s Scottish, so I would highly recommend you read the following with a Scottish accent):
I’m very lucky in that as well as being a novelist, I also review books for a living, which means I’m exposed to loads of terrific new writing all the time. I don’t just review mysteries and thrillers, but here are my favourite recent novels in those genres.
First up is the sublime James Sallis with Willnot (Bloomsbury). Sallis is a crime writer’s crime writer, a superbly skilful novelist and short story writer, as well as a poet, essayist and biographer. He writes detective series and standalone books, and Willnot is one of the latter. Set in the eponymous small American town, it’s a deep and thoughtful examination of life, dressed up as a mystery. The book opens with a typical set-up, the discovery of dead bodies in the local woods, but what follows is a terrific and wide-ranging look at the nature of morality and good versus evil, seen through the eyes of local doctor Lamar Hale. Just like in books by classic writers like James M. Cain, there is so much plot, character, dialogue and philosophy in here, all crammed into just a few pages. Exemplary stuff.
Next on my list would be You Will Know Me (Little, Brown) by Megan Abbott. I’ve loved all of Abbott’s books; she writes wonderfully tense thrillers set against ordinary domestic backdrops, often dealing with teenage girls and their fraught relationships. You Will Know Me is set against the backdrop of gymnastics, as a young Olympic hopeful Devon struggles to keep her life together as she reaches for glory. A young local man is killed in a hit and run, and Devon’s parents Katie and Eric do everything they can to shelter her from the frenzy that envelops the local community. Abbott’s writing is sinewy and taut, brilliantly evoking the craziness her characters encounter. Brilliant stuff.
Next up is a debut novel by Bill Beverly called Dodgers (Crown). The book begins amongst the gangs of Los Angeles and focuses on East, a 15-year-old kid who has been sucked into the drugs and violence all around him. After an explosive start, East and his friends are sent to kill a witness at a forthcoming trial, and what follows is a road trip crossed with a coming of age novel as the kids rampage across the country leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Beverly brilliantly captures the madness of gang life and the unpredictability of teenagers, and he really got inside his main character’s head. It’s strong stuff and vital reading.
Helen FitzGerald is a terrific Australian writer based in Scotland, and she writes amazing domestic noir thrillers. Her latest, Viral (Faber & Faber), is definitely one of her best. It begins with a teenage girl being filmed at a nightclub performing a sex act on a number of young men. The girl subsequently disappears, and it’s left to her friends and family to track her down, and possibly to exact revenge on the boys who instigated and filmed the incident. Like all of FitzGerald’s work, it’s a story ripped straight from newspaper headlines, and the author does an amazing job of creating moral ambiguity in her situations and characters. You always find yourself asking what you would do in the same circumstances, and there’s no better page-turning quality than that.
Lastly, a shout out to Laura Lippman’s Wilde Lake (William Morrow). Lippman has been writing bestsellers for ages, and her novels just keep getting better. Wilde Lake is about state’s attorney Lu Brant, whose first case on the job sees her own past life coming back to haunt her. The story is delivered in two separate timelines, Lu’s past and present, and Lippman juggles the two superbly, drip-feeding the reader just enough information to create a feeling of creeping dread as the pace quickens and the tension builds. Lippman is in such perfect control of her prose throughout; it’s a joy to read.