This week, I read The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne, aka Tom Knox, aka Sean Thomas. It doesn't really matter what the British journalist calls himself, his writing is gripping and this book was un-putdownable.
The concept is haunting. One of two identical twins has died in a tragic accident -- or was it?-- and the parents aren't quite sure which of their little girls survived. The children had looked the same, after all, and had identical DNA. The only way the parents told them apart was by personality and affect. The mother decided who was alive based on whom the surviving twin said had fallen. But, did that twin have a reason to pretend? And, later, when she starts adopting the mannerisms and personality traits of her deceased sister, even insisting that she is the other twin, is it just a child struggling to cope with the loss of her best friend and sibling, did her mom get it wrong, or is something more sinister going on? Is the dead twin possessing the living one? Is she haunting her?
Though the book does more than flirt with the supernatural, it is truly a psychological thriller. You don't know if the mom is breaking down, the girl, or the father. It is difficult to trust either narrator as both have built walls of lies to cope with the accident.
The book's Scottish setting is vivid and intensifies the characters' emotional breakdowns and isolation. It's scary and beautiful. Attractive and dangerous, much like the characters.
I enjoyed the tale with a bottle of 2012 Educated Guess, a Napa Valley cabernet with a creamy texture and depth of flavor befitting a good thriller. There's fruit. Vanilla. And, just when you get it figured out, more of the darker fruits emerge. Just like a good thriller, layers peel back to reveal something darker than expected.