Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two-way Split

Allan Guthrie
Two-way Split

Polygon, 2007

Robin Greaves is a frustrated musician, who became an armed robber. He suspects that his wife is cheating on him with his partner. When private detective shows Greaves the direct evidence of affair, a burglar breaks the detective's nose. Greaves plans to avenge his partner, but before they have to rob a post office, which employs the mother of another hero of the book, Pearce, recently released from prison, where he’ve been for murder. Private eye with a broken nose and his subordinate Kennedy follow Greaves, hoping somehow to revenge. And none of them do not yet know what result the post office robbery will have.

A good book - not just a mystery, but in general any book - can often be identified by its unpredictability. So in «Two-way Split» in the graph «unpredictability» is 100%. How would be another: how can we predict plot in the book if there are three psychopaths (including Greaves’ wife) and two greedy private detectives there? All characters in the book are on the brink. They often despise themselves, but it's strong people, hard people, and with hatred and contempt for themselves, they live in, driving these feelings inward. It is impossible to imagine that Pearce, Greaves and even Kennedy can think like ordinary people. They probably are not under control of the thoughts and feelings, but some pulses in their head: «He gritted his teeth, squeezed his fists. When he closed his eyes, bars of orange flashed behind his lids. Maybe Ailsa was right. Maybe she should be scared of him. Women who were close to him seemed to have a habit of dying ». Guthrie chose the best description of the style for people such as Pearce and Greaves – it is entirely the impulses and movements. Short, abrupt phrases are the linguistic embodiment of such impulses.
Guthrie plays «two-way split» from the title on each of the three main characters of the book. Pierce is broken in half, breaking into a man who loves his mother as a three-year old child and able to selflessly defend the offended, and hard man who can kill with ease. Greaves breaks in half when he has a split personality after he stopes taking prescribed medication. A pair of private detectives, too, is divided in half: if Kennedy is more risky, with feelings, then a detective with a broken nose, as more experienced, finally lost his conscience.

«Two-way Split» is Allan Guthrie's debut novel, and it's hard to believe. The book is so masterfully written, so there is lots of energy here, that it can be seen: the author is a great writer. Very, very good book.

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