‘Dominick Donald’s Breathe (Hodder £17.99) captures the eerie feel of 1950s London. Predators flit through the choking smog, including the real-life serial killer John Christie and a ghost-like individual whose method of murder leaves no trace. It’s hard to believe this crime novel, which is my book of the year, is Donald’s debut.’

Best fiction books of 2018 - Crime’ by Joan Smith, 25 November 2018

'Breathe' was selected as The Sunday Times's Crime Book of the Year on 25 November 2018

evening standard 28 November 2018

‘The best debut of the year was surely Dominick Donald’s deeply impressive Breathe in which a police probationer gropes his way through the great smogs of Fifties London on the trail of a multiple killer.’

Christmas Books: 5 of the best crime novels from 2018’ by Mark Sanderson, 28 November 2018


‘The streets of London in December 1952 were choked with smog.  In Dominick Donald’s remarkably accomplished debut novel 'Breathe'… they are also stalked by a serial killer… Probationary constable Dick Bourton, trying to make a new life for himself after the horrors of the Korean war, is landed with the Notting Dale beat, the ‘division’s scruffiest end… poor, creaky, full of minor villainy and generations of grudges’. Trudging through this west London area that is ‘all Scotch mist and glistening roofs… if you found the right spot you could almost be a lookout in a crow’s nest, bobbing above a fog-bound fishing fleet’, he stumbles upon the body of a man, which leads him, indirectly, into the path of the murderer…

Bourton is the most appealing, original protagonist I’ve read for some time, and Donald’s depiction of the city’s thickening gloom is splendidly evocative, bringing the stench of London’s coal fires to vivid life.  ‘First pea-souper of the winter…you can feel it on your skin,’ Bourton is advised. ‘Nights like tonight, they all come out…burglars, cosh artists, spivs shifting wholesale.  Car thieves. Con men even, ‘cos everyone’s at home and susceptible to a hard-luck story on a foggy night.’ It may be ‘coppering in the smog’ but this is utterly fresh. A very impressive debut.’

‘Murder in the Thick of It’ by Alison Flood, The Observer, 9 September 2018

‘Breathe’ was selected as an Observer Thriller of the Month, 9 September 2018


'… Few people remember the great smog of 1952 that killed thousands, but its choking effects are vividly evoked in 'Breathe', an outstanding debut by Dominick Donald… Donald combines historical events and fictional characters to superb effect, in a novel that deserves to win prizes.'

Sunday Times Crime Roundup by Joan Smith, 26 August 2018

'Breathe' was selected as The Sunday Times's Crime Book of the Month on 26 August 2018

THE DAILY MAIL 14 september 2018

‘… This subtly woven mixture of fiction and fact… casts a magical spell, and even includes a moving love story. It is a stunning debut… You can smell the fog and feel the breath being sucked out of your body as you struggle to understand what is happening in the darkness.’

Geoffrey Wansell, The Daily Mail, 14 September 2018

THE SUNDAY EXPRESS 16 september 2018

‘… Dominick Donald sustains the tension beautifully over the course of this long book, depicting his smoggy setting so well that your eyes sting while your pulse races.' 

Jake Kerridge, The Sunday Express, 16 September 2018


‘The denouement of Breathe takes place during… the Great Smog of London. This peasouper killed thousands, and at times meant people couldn’t see anything more than a yard away. Dominick Donald’s portrayal of the difficulties and dangers faced by Londoners is superb... Breathe is a hugely impressive debut.’

Marcel Berlins, Crime fiction round-up, The Times, 6 October 2018


‘Forget your standard police procedural that encourages you to gulp it down in one sitting: this debut will keep you absorbed for nights on end… Dominick Donald combines a tangy depiction of ration-era London with a strong historical context featuring, among many vividly realised scenes, a chase through the Underground that will haunt your commute for weeks.’

‘Book Reviews - All killer, no filler,’ by Claire Allfree, Metro, 7 October 2018

The times 13 october 2018

‘Breathe ingeniously knits together the killer London smog of the winter of 1952 and the discovery of multiple corpses in Rillington Place in 1953. Dominick Donald creates a splendidly honest, but wily and perceptive hero in the burly Korean War veteran Dick Bourton, and a resourceful heroine to match him in his voluptuous half-Russian, half-Chinese fiancée, Anna… Donald writes his most thrilling passages in staccato lists of impressions that the narrator Martyn Ellis makes rat-a-tat on the ear like hammer blows: “The copper stumbling to the deck, another lad behind him, civvy trousers, uniform shirt, trying to pull up, bang from the weapon, on to his arse.” … compulsive listening.’

Christina Hardyment, Bestsellers, The Times, 13 October 2018

‘Breathe’ was The Times’s Audiobook of the Week for 13 October 2018


‘Dominick Donald’s novel is a remarkably convincing re-creation of a London that, although well within living memory, has vanished forever. Rich in detail and dialogue that successfully resurrect the period, it’s a thriller that holds the reader’s attention throughout more than 500 pages.’

Nick Rennison, Mist and murder, BBC History Magazine, October 2018


‘… Donald deftly recreates contemporary London: the widespread bomb damage, the threadbareness of life, the hangover of war – the novel’s hero is a veteran of the Second and Korean Wars – rationing and deference. He weaves fact into fiction to create an atmospheric and intriguing if overlong novel.’

Good reads by Richard Hopton, Country & Town House magazine, October 2018


'What's not to like about 'Breathe'? The setting is immaculately researched and richly imagined. Bourton's a marvellous character who brings together so many strands - the fall out from World War II, Korea, the slow retreat from empire, fog-ridden bomb-damaged London and of course one of the classic murder cases of all time. There's even a strange and unsettlingly ambivalent love affair at its heart. The combination of thriller plot with pervasive moral uncertainty reminded me at times of le Carré. Historically fascinating, too. All in all, this is one of the finest debuts I've read for a while.'

Andrew Taylor, author of 'The Ashes of London', winner of the Crime Writers' Association Diamond Dagger, and triple winner of the CWA Historical Dagger

RENNIE AIRTH, WINNER Grand Prix de Littérature Policière

'['Breathe' is] one of the most unusual thrillers I've ever read (and one of the longest!)  I think Dominick Donald is an exceptional writer.  His depiction of post-war London is beautifully detailed, as are his descriptions of the lethal fogs that left the city gasping for breath.  On top of that he has peopled his nail-biting story with a rich variety of characters, many of them coppers, who might easily have stepped out of a Dickens novel.  Gripping to the last page, it's a mystery unlike any other I've read.'

Rennie Airth, author of ‘River of Darkness’ and winner of the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière of France


'A brilliant book, an extraordinary mix of fiction and fact so real it will make your skin crawl.  The sights, sounds, grit and desperation of postwar London hang over every step into the poisonous mysteries of the fog.  Close the windows, pull up the duvet and keep the light on.’

Tom Harper, bestselling author of 'Zodiac Station' and the Crusades Trilogy, and (with Wilbur Smith) 'The Tiger's Prey'

CRIME REVIEW, 27 October 2018

‘He has the early 1950s off perfectly – unfortunately this reviewer remembers them – living conditions, social attitudes, police procedures, the early West Indian immigrants and that strange hard core of Eastern Europeans who had fled the Nazis or the later Communist occupiers. Breathe is an outstanding debut – one of the finest I’ve read in a long while.’

John Cleal, Crime Review, 27 October 2018


‘Prepare to be thoroughly engaged by an historical novel that is breathtaking in its authenticity.’

New Crime Fiction Talent: The Seven Best Debuts of 2018, 8 November 2018, Crime Fiction Lover

‘There’s a raw authenticity about Breathe, the characters, dialogue and setting all hitting their mark with precision, so much so that you may even imagine a a black and white newsreel spooling through your head as you read.’

Crime Fiction Lover, 5 September 2018


'A chilling and atmospheric historical crime book that puts Donald in the spotlight as a name to remember.' 

10 Must-read books for September, Culturefly


And this is what the readers at goodreads think...