“What part of my life has been lucky? I was born a bastard, my mother died when I was a baby, the people I thought were my parents turned out to be just two strangers who brought me up. I’ve got no friends. No family. I don’t even have a personality of my own. Then, to cap it all, everywhere I go someone is trying to kill me. Exactly which bit of that is lucky?”
There aren’t many books (which I’ve read) which have a character who sums up his predicament so well, but maybe that’s the great thing about reading a book by a journalist – there’s rarely a word wasted.
Two Minds To Die centres around journalist Marcus Fieldman, whose somewhat mundane life subbing on a London daily newspaper is shattered when he makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to follow someone who walks like him, moves like him and even has exactly the same mannerisms.
That split-second decision brings Marcus together with Jack Porter, who is his doppelganger – only not in looks, but in mind, thanks to the fact the pair – unknown to them – underwent an operation which had the result of saving one of their young lives, but which also transferred Marcus’s personality to Jack.
Jack’s dad, a scientist who created the procedure with good intentions, had vowed the pair would never meet – shortly before he disappeared too. As so it remained for until Marcus became a little too nosey. Journalists, eh?
Their chance meeting – and the unsurprising friendship which follows – makes them marked men for a man who spans criminal and government circles and is determined to keep the past a secret. That’s when the adventure begins.
It’s the way this story was told which stands out. It starts in the most brutal fashion, maybe 80% of the way through the narrative, with Jack facing a very sticky end. Jack then recounts his story, which in turn leads to another character taking over the narrative to add further context – and more than a little drama. This approach means there are more twists and turns packed in, more characters introduced and more remarkable developments than would be believable in a book told as an observer. In many ways, it’s more like listening in to a conversation about a remarkable story, and is all the more enjoyable as a result.
About the author: Neil Bonnar has been a sports journalist for 25 years and is currently head of sport at The Bolton News. He began writing books five years ago and won second prize in the prestigious international Academy of Children’s Writers Competition in 2011. Two Minds To Die is a full-length crime thriller and Neil’s debut novel.
Where to buy this book: On Kindle