The Jump by Doug Johnstone
We are excited to be participating in a blog tour for Doug Johnstone’s The Jump, a contemporary thriller with an unlikely heroine. Join us this Saturday for the blog tour when Doug will share his writing process with a focus on how he created a character of place within this novel. You will also be able to enter to win a copy of The Jump. Our contributor, Andrew, read the book. Here is his review…
The Jump by Doug Johnstone
Reviewed by: Andrew
Find it/buy it here: The Jump
When her teenage son jumps from the tallest bridge in town, Ellie Napier’s life is thrown into disarray. Consumed by questions regarding the cause of her son’s unexplained suicide, Ellie cannot return to work and instead fills her days with long walks through the streets of her small Scottish town, short swims in the frigid sea, and obsessively monitoring her dead son’s social media accounts. Her husband, Ben, is unable to lift her from her depression as he is equally destroyed and obsessively pursues conspiracy theories surrounding suicide clusters.
Salvation appears to be at hand when Ellie encounters and talks down a 17-year-old boy (Sam) about to jump from the same bridge as her son. Prodded by her maternal instinct, and extant guilt, Ellie invites Sam into her home and her life. Hoping to fix Sam’s life in a way should could not her son’s, Ellie dives head first into resolving Sam’s situation, but only finds herself falling deeper and deeper into Sam’s troubled past.
With this promising premise, Doug Johnstone launches his readers into an interesting and unique modern thriller. The Jump sets itself apart from similar crime novels in that we do not discover the true nature of the “crime” until much later in the book, and the protagonist herself is an unusual character. While Johnstone regales his readers with standard page-turning action-packed cliffhangers, he also spends time delving into the psychology and pathos of Ellie. The book is really two stories; a standard thriller about Sam’s troubled past and a touching look at how two parents recover from having their world turned inside out. Unfortunately, the passages focusing on Ellie’s state of mind are often excessive and repetitive. Ellie’s obsession with the death of her son becomes an irritating distraction instead of the plot driver it is intended to be.
There are similarities between Johnstone’s writing and that of Dennis Lehane and Gillian Flynn. Readers who enjoyed the dark themes of Gone Girl and Mystic River will most likely enjoy The Jump as well; those who are upset by scenes of violence and sexual assault may want to look elsewhere. Ultimately I was disappointed with the third act, as I had seen the potential for a more mind-bending plot twist and found some holes in the final resolution. However, those are subjective critiques and other readers may (and have) found the resolution be to be completely satisfying. With that said, The Jump is an intriguing, page-turning thriller and a worthy addition to any summer beach reading list.
Don’t forget to join us on Saturday morning to read what Doug has to say about his novel and his strategies for creating a character of place. You will also have the opportunity to enter to win a copy of The Jump.