24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2011
Where to start...'Two-Way Split' was a complete surprise to me. I didn't know an awful lot about it when I started reading, but straight away I was pulled in. Guthrie has superb knack of setting the pace early, the story never drags. The way the story unravels, you're never sure of what will happen next, no words wasted or spent overly describing anything incidental, it is a fast paced, edge of your seat thriller.
Although it has been out for awhile, it feels as fresh as if it was written only recently. With great characters, fantastic dialogue and an excellently crafted storytelling, 'Two-Way Split' will definitely not be the only Allan Guthrie novel I'll read. In fact I'm already looking for my next fix!
If you like your crime/thrillers well written and packed to the brim with action, I can't recommend this highly enough!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2011
Imagine your wife is being unfaithful, not a rare event in today's world but none the less stressful on a personal level. The man she's having an affair with is a close friend and you all work together. Add to the mix that your chosen profession is armed post office robber and you're all heading out on a job just hours after you have learned of the affair. Finally you've recently stopped taking your medication for some serious mental health issues. Today is going to be an interesting day!
Allan Guthrie's storytelling grabs you by the balls and drags you to a dark and gritty Edinburgh, an unforgiving place that in reality is only a few streets away from pavement pipers and open top buses. An underbelly littered with massage parlours, loan sharks, drug dealers and illegal weapons. A place where for the price of a kindle you can buy most anything or get your legs broken.
The characters, without exception, are fully fleshed whole people who despite being in surreal situations never lose their believability. Pearce is a great character it would have been so easy to write him as a two dimensional Bruce Willis avenging angel type but instead we get a complicated violent man with a moral code albeit slightly twisted. He doesn't know where to buy a gun and when he does he needs to be shown how to use it. The PI making a hash of climbing the scaffold. This kind of realism gives the story some gravitas. More than once I was reminded of "The Wire" in the way violence and crime sat side by side with everyday life.
I bought Two-Way Split after reading Bye Bye Baby and Killing Mum, two novellas by the same author. If you want something a little different from the norm with a dark edge then Mr Guthrie is well worth a try.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2011
Grey is a private detective. He and his partner are hired by Robin- a former child prodigy concert pianist who is also an armed robber - to find out if his wife is cheating on him.
Meanwhile, Pearce is fresh out of prison after doing ten years for murdering his sister's drug dealer and is working for a loan shark while living with his mother, Hilda, who works in a post office that Robin and his ex-cop partner are planing to rob.
And there's much, much more as Allan Guthrie brilliantly weaves all the convoluted strands of the story together in as wild, hilarious, brutal and touching an example of British crime fiction as you're likely to get.
Two-Way Split was- amazingly - Guthrie's first novel and was the 2007 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year. And you can certainly see why. Fantastic stuff.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2009
Crime drama does not always have to have a police officer or PI at its centre. Agatha Christie showed with Miss Marple that even a noisy old lady can get in on the act. What you don't see too often is a criminal being the investigator as is the case with Allan Guthrie's `Two Way Split'. The book centres mostly on Pearce, a man who has just come out of jail for murder. When tragedy hits he reacts like before and searches for revenge. However, in Guthrie's dark version of Britain the bad guys are not only bad, but mental. Pearce is after Robin Greaves, a schizophrenic who has been without medication for some time.
I really liked the tone that Guthrie painted with `Two Way'. Pearce was the perfect protagonist for this cynical and dark crime thriller. The sections that follow the damaged murderer really work and although he has a twisted sense of morality to really support him. This cannot be said of the sections surrounding the mentally ill Greaves. He is a developed character, but unfortunately confusing. Guthrie is not quite able to balance Greaves' breakdown with a narrative structure. I was becoming increasingly confused towards the end of the book as I did not know who was talking to who.
Overall, it was a shame that the finale of `Two-Way Split' descended into confusion as the initial half showed real promise. Luckily for Guthrie the sections following Pearce were the highlights and make up some way for the more confusing elements. Pearce has gone on to appear in other books and I believe a mystery surrounding him will be a better novel and one that I look forward to reading.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2012
The story is probably not long enough to justify several different stories being woven together. I finished reading the book thinking there was an excellent book somewhere here but it had been squeezed too much into the pages allowed.
However, the incompetence of the people involved, the violence, and lack of care for others, still makes for an interesting read. There is a neat twist in the Robin Greaves character. It's basically a story of a number of different people who live their seedy life. A sequence of events brings together the characters so they can play out the ending. Ailsa, a former junkie, battered by her man is the only character with any redeeming features so you can see it's all a bit grim. If the characters were less pitiful, it might be an amusing story of bungling.
Worth reading if you want an entertaining story about the seedier side of life. It did not encourage me to seek out further work of the author unless it was very cheap.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2012
This was a very easy fun read. He writes in a most engaging way that takes you into the story without a lot of scene setting etc.Read it twice and loved it both times
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2011
I logged on to write a review of the book because I enjoyed it so much, but see that several people have been here before me giving it 5-star praise. Quite right too.
I've read a few Allan Guthrie books before this, and loved them. When I saw this one was out on the Kindle at such a cheap price, and that it had won the Harrogate Old Theakston Crime Novel of the Year Award, I obviously had to get it. (For anyone in the UK interested in crime writing, the Harrogate Festival is a must. I've been 3 years in a row and already booked for 2012.)
As a beginning crime writer myself, I decided I'd try to read this book differently. I'd try to see along the way what the author did and how he did it. Unfortunately that's easier said than done, as I got gripped by the story, as happens with all Allan Guthrie's stuff, and enjoyed the writing and simply wanted to know what happened next.
I made a few notes on my Kindle version, like:
there's tension already
the threat of breaking glass
brilliant tense nasty violent scene
violence is sometimes meaningless sometimes meaningful
One thing I also noted down - the author is really good at writing dialogue. The book is definitely Scottish noir, and set in Edinburgh. The Scottish accents come through as you read the book, but they're not impenetrable as some writers' dialogue can be. The book would be as accessible to someone in the USA as to someone living in Scotland and knowing the dialect. And that's quite a skill.
In the end all I'd say is - read the other reviews. People are spot-on, and that's also my view of the book. If you've not read Allan Guthrie, treat yourself. But be aware that you'll want to read all his other stuff too.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2012
This is a violent book and the dialogue and narrative are saturated with expletives ,casual sex and drug taking and if you are angered by these ingredients please avoid the book because it needs a strong stomach .None of the characters are likeable although Perace is shown as having a tender side as evidenced in his relationship with Ailsa ,a debtor who he helps out by warning off her abusive boyfriend .
The book is tightly plotted,has a small dramatis personae and moves like a speeding bullet .It is hardboiled to the max and wholly without superfluous words or plot strands.Everybody in it is damaged emotionally.
These are damaged people in a damaged society and you should only read about them if modern noir is your thing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2012
Hard to believe this is a debut. Tight and tense with a set of great characters and a lovely feel for Edinburgh. A robbery goes wrong and there are consequences for more than the villains and the victims in this one. I can't wait to read more of this guy's work. A steal (!!!) at twice the price.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2004
Every now and then I come across a book that takes me completely by surprise. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked up my copy of TWO-WAY SPLIT by Allan Guthrie although I had my suspicions it would involve the darker side of life. At least I was correct in that assumption. What I wasn't prepared for was the superb depiction of a group of troubled people unknowingly digging themselves deeper and deeper into terrible trouble.
Robin Greaves, his wife Carol and her lover Eddie Soutar are robbers who are planning on robbing a post office in a daring daylight raid. Their plan, in order to get the cashiers to cooperate, is to utilise the two ingredients that they believe is common in all successful robberies: hostage taking and violence. It's not a perfect plan but it's a pretty good one and should have a good possibility of success. But a few ingredients are added to the set-up that not only tips the balance towards a more precarious outcome, but also turns the story into a melange of unexpected twists and turns.
The first glimmer that all may not go smoothly comes when Greaves finds out through a private investigator that Carol and Eddie are having an affair. Understandably Robin doesn't take the news well and the simmering rage he harbours looks like it could bubble over at any moment.
Possible problem number two is the revelation that Robin has already spent some time in a mental institution. In itself this wouldn't exactly be a problem, but we also know that he hasn't been taking some sort of medication for almost five months. When going into a tense situation carrying weapons, one wouldn't think that the ideal person to be watching your back is a betrayed husband, who may not be 100% mentally stable, would one?
Another problem is that a man named Pearce, a recently released prisoner who has done time for murder is planning on visiting his mother at lunchtime. Oh yeah...his mother works in a post office.
The final little fly in the ointment is the appearance of Don. (Keep an eye out for Don).
Guthrie has chosen to tell this story along a timeline, heading each new chapter with a timestamp which serves to remind us just how quickly the events unfold. It's a wonderfully tough crime novel set in Edinburgh in a suitably sleazy part of town where the feeling of desperation simply oozes off the pages. Massage parlours, broken down tenements and dirty alleyways form the grim backdrop to this dark story of greed, violence and betrayal.
There are no heroes in TWO-WAY SPLIT, in fact none of the main characters are particularly likable but what they lack in endearing personality they more than make up in complex obsessions. The gang of Robin, Carol and Eddie are doomed to fail from the start. What's unclear is just what character deficiency will be the one to ultimately trip them up. Pearce probably comes closest to hero status, at least displaying some sort of empathy with others. But he is also established as a man of extreme violence, much of it controlled and rather cold-blooded giving him a frighteningly dangerous air about him. And as for Don, well you'll just have to wait and read about him yourself.
At only around 180 pages long, it is an extremely fast-paced book with not a word wasted on overly long descriptions of incidental details. From the build up of the robbery to the robbery itself and beyond to the thieves apartment den, this is a tightly woven story that flow together seamlessly as all the main players are drawn inexorably together for a thrilling finale.
Although I've painted a picture of a rather dark story of violence, hatred and evil, it's a fascinating story that will keep you guessing as there is no telling in which direction Guthrie will take it next. From a simple robbery to a showdown of unbelievably unusual proportions, it's an engaging example of tartan noir that is very difficult to put down once picked up.