Twins have long provided fertile ground for authors.
Especially those who use such relationships to weave tales of murder and mystery.
So much intrigue can flow around those whose lives are inextricably linked from the moment of birth. There is no escape.
Emotions are heightened, mental ties are forged stronger than those between “ordinary” siblings.
Close physical resemblance is not always there with ordinary twins. But that also applies to monoizygotic twins. And as they grow older, both types tend to stress their differences by way of dress, activities, careers – anything to become an individual rather than one of a pair.
But behind the facade, beyond the physical pairing, there always seems to be the strongest bond of all – the linkage of minds. The sharing of thoughts that need not be spoken; the awareness of the other’s emotions even when far apart.
Above all there is the prescience of being able to divine what lies ahead.
And for identical twins, all this comes with double intensity.
Molly Raven is one half of such a pair. This introverted nervy twenty-two-year-old is deeply gripped by OCD and sleeps with a baseball bat beside her bed. This is not because anything nasty has happened to her, but because it might. She visualises all the perils that await if the plane taking her from London to New York falls from the sky.
She fears the water she drinks, buys mousetraps for her hotel room and a tarpaulin on which to lay out her clothes. Hornet and wasp spray, a rape whistle and a folding pocket knife are other cautionary purchases.
Three birth minutes separate her from Katie, a full-on extrovert and social gadfly and brilliant student. She is always gathering “likes” on Instagam and never lacks an adoring boyfriend. Mollie describes her as prettier and funnier. Nor, unlike Mollie, is she fixated on perceived threats to her life from the ordinary world around her.
Totally different apart from their looks yet wholly synchonised in matters of the mind. Feelings and emotions entwined. Second guessing what the other will think and do.
It is the murder of the free-spirited Katie that brings Mollie to New York. The twins’ nondescript parents, Paul and Elizabeth, were already there, on a holiday visit to see Katie.
Together they try to process their daughter’s murder while caught up in the swirl of police investigations and the bureaucratic formalities of arranging Katie’s cremation.
Mollie delves into Katie’s world, trying to unravel events leading to her gruesome death. Few of those she meets are quite who or what they seem. And as there were no signs of forced entry, it is certain someone she knew was responsible.
Accounts of their relationships from a sleazy professor, her basement dwelling neighbour, her tycoon patron and the sporting hunk of a boyfriend vary each time Mollie meets them. A fake detective leads a false trail.
The real police dither and delay. Threats and alarms pepper Mollie’s journey.
And the shock delivered halfway through is sure to bring most readers to a sudden stop.
Wow! I did not see that coming.
All this is played out in the non-stop frenzy of New York.
In First Born the city becomes a character in its own right, brilliantly painted by author Will Dean.
Until now he has earned a growing reputation as a leading writer of Nordic Noir with tales of his intrepid stone deaf journo/detective Tuva Moodyson.
The shift of scene from looming pine forests to the brash busyness of the Big Apple is no deterrent to his talent.
Likewise, the portrait he paints of Mollie Raven and the relationship of identical twins rivals those he has given us with Tuva.
This lad from the Potteries, who lives off grid in those Nordic forests, is fast becoming one of the best. And First Born ensures he continues to stay at the top of today’s best crime fiction writers.