Top critical review
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Beautifully written but not engaging or thrilling - quality of writing is the best thing about it.
on 28 February 2014
The idea behind this novel intrigued me. London in the 1920s is always a good, meaty background for fiction. One war has ended while another is soon to start. There's so much for an author to dip into. Add the concept of psychotherapy, hints of insanity, and you should be on the road to something pretty good. In some ways this novel takes you along that road but in parts it leaves you wondering if you want to travel any further.
Elliot Taverley is the lead character, a young man specialising in hand writing analysis, The Fractured Man follows Elliot through a bizarre series of events as his profession leads him dangerously close to losing his own mind.
There are some nicely worked time shifts between the present and the past which manage to pull in details of Elliot's less than happy childhood and introduce a range of sub-plots as diverse as the horrors of a Russian war through to a character with the ability to 'shift' personality and morph into different people.
Sounds great doesn't it?. For me, and this is just a personal opinion, there's not enough pace or darkness to carry the weight of such a disturbing plot. It's almost as though the author was afraid to reach too deeply and fully examine the possibilities. There's a tendency for the plot to drag it's heels and when it does it slows to a stop which made it difficult to stay focussed.
I will add; the general quality of the writing and research is extremely good. There's a real sense of the believable. I could have reached for a 4* review had there just been that certain edge, that certain tension, which seems to be missing.