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Two-way Split - Allan Guthrie

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2 Reviews

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Allan Guthrie / Paperback / 224 Pages / Book is published 2007-07-01 by Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited

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    2 Reviews
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      28.04.2009 16:11
      Very helpful



      A strong story let down by some confused writing

      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
      Year: 2004
      Price: amazon uk - £5.49
      play.com - £5.49


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        24.04.2009 13:35
        Very helpful



        Revenage must be made

        ~ Two-Way Spilt ~

        Two-Way Spilt is another one of my bargain books I brought a couple of years back in Waterstones for a pound. I didn't really think it was going to be that great regarding the price of it. I hadn't heard of the author Allan Guthrie before and this is because he is a new writer.
        I finally got chance to sit down other the last few days and read the novel which didn't take me long as it is quite a short book and is also one of my favourite genres so I was pretty interested in it straight away. I will be looking out for his other books as I was not disappointed and was lucky to find this in the bargain bin after seeing the RRP price of £6.99.


        Allan Guthrie lives in Edinburgh and Two-Way Spilt is actually his first published novel. Since then he has written many other thriller action novels and this novel went on to win an award in 2007- Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the year. Many other novels after this book have won awards which include Best Novel.
        Other novels by Allan- Savage Night (2007) and Slammer (2009).


        The book follows several characters and sub plots but the main one is about Robin Greaves who is an armed robber with many problems. He discovers that his wife is playing away with another gang member and he wants revenge. Not only this but the gang just robbed a post office with devastating affects that causes him even more problems which he does not think about. Robin has to deal with a lot more than his wives affair when he is faced with trouble for what he has done.


        ROBIN - Robin is an Ex Pianist who has turned to the life of robbery. He is pretty stressed out a lot and finds out his wife is having an affair which sends him over the edge. He is a very messed up man and finds it hard to cope with his conscience. He has also spent time in a mental institution. Robin is a very unlikeable character even though you do find you feel abit sorry for him in several parts when you shouldn't. Being the main protagonist you find out the most about him and get to know him pretty well.

        PEARCE- Pearce is involved in the story after he clashes with Robin and is left with revenge in his heart. I really liked this character even though he is not a very good man. Pearce has recently just got out of prison of ten years after murdering a man who was responsible for his sisters' death. However you do feel sympathy for him and I felt he was the one character I wanted things to go right for. Underneath the violence and bad choices he is quite a caring and misunderstood man, however saying this I wouldn't want to come across him.

        CAROL- Robin's wife who has been having an affair with Eddie another member of their gang. She seems to be abit of a lost cause and she is slightly messed up herself. Carol can be violent, manipulative and in my opinion can be seen as a mental case from time to time. I didn't like her character one bit. All the way through she is causing everyone she touches damage and has a really bad attitude when things don't go her way. Even though I felt this way it was nice to see a women role being included amongst the gang life. as it is mainly a male genre and theme.

        EDDIE- Eddie another mental man, joined Carol and Robin in robbery and ended up with Carol behind Robin's back. He is an intelligent man but is often found in dangerous situations. Eddie also seems to be well motivated and can also hold his own. He is not scared of anyone and the consequences that could face him if he gets caught. I didn't really like this character and he was not easy to follow.

        Other Characters
        There were several other characters, some appeared more than others.

        PI Investigator- The gang is unaware there is a Private Investigator following them since the robbery and he is every step behind catching them and the money.

        DON- Don is always around as he is Robin's brother. He is intelligent and very sneaky but like many of the others seems to be slightly on the mental side and is a very violent and destructive guy. Eddie doesn't trust the man at all. Don even though he plays a minor character has a very significant part in the plot.

        AILSA - Pearce befriends her after saving her from an abusive boyfriend. She is a caring mother, but very weak and frightened women.


        Overall I thought the book was pretty good. It wasn't an amazing piece but it is certainly worth a read. I read this novel in two nights as it was slightly addictive and when I get involved in a story I find it hard to put it down. I think it is a tremendous start for a new writer though and I think it deserved to win an award. It is creative, violent and compared to other thriller novels I will be reading this again.

        The story is set in the gritty, dark parts of Edinburgh which is nice to see that he set the story in his home town. The town is sleazy, underclass and tormented by gangs and drug dealers. The place is overcrowded by criminals and unemployment is a major problem throughout. As well as this it is based in the cold times of the winter to add more dramatic feeling to the desperate people who live there.
        The locations used in the story were good and well balanced. We had a lot of different settings to keep you interested. Like a typical thriller/ gangster story we have the usual settings found including underground clubs, small dainty flats and the back streets. It was nice to see all of the different locations though and as the story and three main sub plots going on it wasn't hard to follow that each plot was focusing on someone else in a different place to the last.

        The narrative is well put together and I really enjoyed how it all came together eventually. Having three main sub plots going on gets your mind ticking all the time as you had to remember what each person was doing and try to figure out how they are connected. It was a very twisty and gritty story and I found a few parts that were very surprising. Some parts are predictable but the way the plot follows onto them are still just as good as the rest. I really enjoyed the story on Pearce. He was an interesting character and we get to know a lot about him as the story goes on. Even though there are no real heroes of the story as they are all criminals in some way, I think Pearce would be a hero in his own way, as some have described him- 'a vigilante with a soul'. The book is violent I give you that with many killings and weapons featured. The plot was constantly over taken by the gangster genre including murders, casual sex and drugs throughout.
        The dialog is pretty simple and easy to understand. It is lively and interesting which gave the book it's great pace. The action is fast and has drive but it is still an uncomplicated book. There are many themes of the book that can be found as disturbing such as the murders and a borderline child molester but this isn't really featured often.

        The characters are brilliant and even though they are all very different to each other they are all damaged emotionally by someone or something. All of their stories include a devastation of some sort and they are all living lower class, dangerous lives. As I said before Pearce is my favourite character and you can see underneath all the violence he does have values and morals which are important to him. He was the only likeable character in the novel.


        Everything is just put together so well and it fits very nicely into a short but imaginative story. Allan is a talented writer and this is an incredible piece for his first published book. It is unforgettable and I will be reading many other books to see if they sum up to this brilliant book. I would certainly recommend this to those who love thriller books and also those who want something peculiar and different.


        ISBN - 9781846970429
        Author- Allan Guthrie
        Price- £6.99
        Pages- 188
        Imprint- Polygon
        Published- July 2007
        Website- www.allanguthrie.co.uk

        The film rights for this story have already been sold after it won its award in 2007 so expect a film to be made very soon. I think it would make a brilliant film.

        Thanks for reading- blackmagicstar4. Published on Ciao and Dooyoo



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