Newest Review: ... Split' Pearce is not a good man. In fact, he has just been released from jail after spending 10 years locked up for murdering the m... more
The Man With Two Brains
Two-way Split - Allan Guthrie
Member Name: samueltyler
Two-way Split - Allan Guthrie
Advantages: Great central character, interesting dark portrayal of England
Disadvantages: Confused characters, messy narrative
Some people feel that they don't know what their right hand is doing when they are using their left. This is a problem I suppose, but as long as the right hand is not stabbing someone whilst you embroider with your left you should be ok. The use of Schizophrenia to explain a murder in crime fiction has been popular for years. In most cases you don't know that the killer is mentally ill until the last scene when they come out of the broom cupboard wearing a pair of knickers on their head and brandishing two pencils up their nose. In TV shows like 'Midsomer Murders' schizophrenia is used as a cheap get out clause - why did old Mrs Beaton kill all the bell ringers? She was schizophrenic and was imbued with the ghosts of her murdered ancestors (rubbish). The reason that mentally ill characters are only revealed towards the end of a book is because it is a hard mindset to write about and one that can lead to confusion - as Allan Guthrie shows in 'Two-Way Split'
Pearce is not a good man. In fact, he has just been released from jail after spending 10 years locked up for murdering the man he blames for the death of his sister. On the outside he is living with his Mum, already in hot water he finds himself having to work off a debt for a local hood. Meanwhile, a troublesome threesome are planning a heist on a Post Office. They are known for their violent tactics and their latest escapade leaves one woman dead and the gang in turmoil. The worse news is not that they have become killers, but that the dead woman was Pearce's mother. Can Pearce catch the killers before the police? If he does can he deal with their strange characteristics?
In crime fiction you do not often get to read a book from a criminal's point of view even though it does make sense that they could be involved in crime solving. PIs and police are obvious crime fighters as it's their job. However, an old lady like Miss Marple, why would she be near killers? On the other hand a career criminal would be as it's their world. Perhaps their motive is not to catch a criminal or earn money - perhaps its revenge. The criminal as a detective makes 'Two-Way' stand out and Pearce a good character. He is not a nice man, quick to anger and slightly naive. However, Guthrie makes sure that he is a principled man and someone no matter how awry his morals, you can get behind. In my opinion, Pearce is a very successful character and someone I would willingly read more about.
This cannot be said of another character who dominated 'Two-Way', killer Robin Greaves. Greaves is a member of the Post Office robbing gang and the man responsible for the death of Pearce's mother. To add spice to proceedings Greaves is also schizophrenic and has a multiple personality disorder. He begins the book in a fragile state of mind and ends it broken. As mentioned earlier writing multiple personalities and mental illness onto the page is no easy feat. I do not believe that Guthrie is 100% successful at it. In fact, I spent large chunks of the book a little confused as to what was going on. You get chapters told from the viewpoint of two people within Greaves and it becomes a mess. Add into the mix these two people talking to two other people in the real world and you get bogged down trying to work out who is talking to whom.
It is a shame that Guthrie gambled so much on a lynchpin of schizophrenia. All areas apart from this are great. His portrayal of a dark and sinister England is interesting and I really liked the character of Pearce with his twisted sense of justice. With the outcome of the book suggesting that Pearce alone will be back for more adventures I can see other books in the series being better. These later books should concentrate on the dark mindset of Pearce and the underbelly he lives in - a world I would gladly read more about. Less time spent on gimmicky writing and more of a sense of place would have made 'Two-Way Split' better than average, as it stands mediocrity is its fate.
Author: Allan Guthrie
Price: amazon uk - £5.49
play.com - £5.49
Summary: A strong story let down by some confused writing