The Fractured Man

****An addictive thriller ... deliciously dark and hypnotic, a psychological thriller fused with the spine-tingling atmosphere of a ghost story." (The List)

 London, 1920. Elliot Taverley is an ambitious young psychoanalyst specialising in the new and controversial field of handwriting analysis. When he receives a visit from a man who seems to change personality when he copies others’ handwriting, Elliot is intrigued and soon becomes obsessed with the man and his mysterious disorder. Spiralling into an increasingly bizarre cat-and-mouse chase and with his mind collapsing, Elliot is forced to confront his difficult childhood and the horrors of war in Arctic Russia in a desperate search for the truth. ‘The Fractured Man’ is one of the most explosive debuts of the year – a psychological thriller that takes us through a war-ravaged Europe and the dark minds that inhabit it to a shocking conclusion.

An extract from ‘The Fractured Man’ can be downloaded here: The Fractured Man

The author writes:

In the first half of the 20th century, the discipline of psychology was still very much in its infancy; its parameters were far from defined. Psychology – and its various deviations – captured the public imagination more than any other science of the day. Indeed, the New Statesman claimed in 1924, “We are all psycho-analysts now!”, indicating the general flavour of popular interest in the topic (and putative lay expertise). It is unsurprising that the popularisation of psychoanalysis coincided with Europe’s struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of the Great War, and the damage to society and individuals.

Graphology was just one of a whole number of schools of psychology, and although largely discredited today, it was a very popular technique for personality assessment in the 1920s, with several profitable graphology practices located in London at that time. I was interested in exploring perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of graphology: the belief that it possessed (and to some, still possesses!), as a technique, a mysterious ability to see through individual pretences and posturings, enabling one to discover the “true” nature of the writer. This novel was inspired by the case of Rafael Schermann, a Polish Jew who toured Europe in the 1920s, wowing audiences with his supposed ability not only to analyse people’s personalities, but also to predict their future, from their scripts. 

I came to know about the Rafael Schermann case in a book by Eugene S. Bagger, who wrote a case study of Schermann in 1924, entitled ‘Psycho-Graphology. A study of Rafael Schermann’. In this book Bagger claims that Schermann had the gift of “clairvoyance induced, or stimulated, by handwriting.” According to his own account, Schermann was fascinated from early childhood by envelopes. He collected a huge number of them and would spend his time just looking at the handwriting and trying to get an idea of the people whose writing it was. As an adult, he became professionally interested in graphology, and claimed that he could “see” the person behind the writing, and could also tell their immediate future from signs in the writing. He gained a considerable reputation for these skills, travelled the world, and even went on to assist the New York police in solving a murder case in 1923. He later returned to Europe and became a victim of the Nazi occupation of Poland during the Second World War.

Analyse this!

Graphology is generally not considered any more valid or scientific than astrology, but for a bit of fun, check to find out what your curly lower loops or scratchy t-strokes say about you …!