The Split is an outstanding psychological thriller that is throbbing with suspense and suspicion. A past that is slowly uncloaked, revealing dark and horrific crimes that are haunting and driving alarming consequences in the present.
“Felicity crawls into the cupboard and wraps the duvet around her as she settles herself into the corner. She balances the pillow against the wall and goes to sleep. And finally, like the last trace of a dream, she remembers what the voice in her ear said to her: He’s coming.”
The story starts on the island of South Georgia close to Antarctica and home to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in the region. Felicity Lloyd is a world expert glaciologist on a two-year project on South Georgia to study the formation and movement of glaciers. Towards the end of her first summer, she gets more and more agitated as she anticipates the last tourist ship to dock before the Island goes into winter shut down. Felicity’s unrest is almost palpable as she waits to see the passenger manifest and if Freddie has finally tracked her down to this remote part of the world. She has an escape plan prepared and when she finally sees Freddie she flees on a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) to another small island. Only, Freddie saw her too and he is in pursuit.
I loved the location choices which worked so well in the story and the landscape of such a desolate island adds to the foreboding and chilling atmosphere of the story. The ghosts of thousands of workers from a time when South Georgia hosted a massive whaling operation, now echo in deserted settlements and half-sunken ships. The wind whistles through the rusted frames of buildings long passed their usefulness. Remaining for when the whales would return, but they never did. An eerie place that threatens unsafe dangers and now the added menace of a man that has tracked Felicity to the far ends of the Earth.
The next part of the story reverts back to Cambridge, England, nine months before Felicity takes up the position in South Georgia and she needs a clean bill of health and mental assessment from her doctor and her physiatrist. Dr Joe Grant is Felicity’s physiatrist but has just returned to work following the death of a patient who was obsessed with him. Joe genuinely wants to help Felicity as he can see personality disorders but she just wants to get clearance as easy as possible so she can getaway. Does she have a personality disorder, is she being drugged or is someone playing games with her mind. Meanwhile more disappearances occur and strange alarming situations develop, all handled brilliantly by Sharon Bolton. The plotting is superb as the layers of complexity and supposition mount to provide an enthralling and captivating story. The momentum of the novel is perfectly pitched and builds to a climactic conclusion.
It is also worth recognising the wonderful writing from Sharon Bolton, as she crafts such vivid images and psychological turmoil. I would highly recommend this book and I would like to thank Orion Publishing, Minotaur Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
Of interest, Grytviken on South Georgia is where you find the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton.