Hamilton Case

3.15 avg rating
( 618 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780099453796: Hamilton Case

A flamboyant beauty who once partied with the Prince of Wales and who now, in her seventh decade, has "gone native" in a Ceylonese jungle. A proud, Oxford-educated lawyer who unwittingly seals his own professional fate when he dares to solve the sensational Hamilton murder case that has rocked the upper echelons of local society. A young woman who retreats from her family and the world after her infant brother is found suffocated in his crib. These are among the linked lives compellingly portrayed in a novel everywhere hailed for its dazzling grace and savage wit--a spellbinding tale of family and duty, of legacy and identity, a novel that brilliantly probes the ultimate mystery of what makes us who we are.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Michelle de Kretser is a Sri Lankan who has lived in Australia since 1972. She has taught literature at Melbourne University and worked as an editor and reviewer. The Lost Dog is her third novel.

From The Washington Post:

Michelle de Kretser's ambitious, gracefully composed second novel might best be described as an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Its title and opening section -- a first-person reminiscence by its central character, a public prosecutor in the former British Indian colony of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka -- prompt readers to expect a straight expository work of detection, in the great and elegant British tradition of Willkie Collins, Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.

Our narrator, one Sam (né Stanley Alban Marriott) Obeysekere is indeed a diehard fan of the mystery genre, with an emphasis on "the sublime Mrs. Christie" and her serene-yet-bloody sorties into well-born British intrigue. Sam grew up in the Ceylonese capital of Colombo as the son of a high-living native-born estate holder of "iconic largesse," who managed to work the British takeover of the island nation into a mammoth personal land grab. The sight of his father whipping the son of a favored overseer instilled in young Sam a reverence for the cold and impersonal authority of British justice. Even though the boy was being punished unfairly, Sam intuited the workings of a grander design: "It was essential to the harmonious functioning of our little community that the boy paid publicly for his crime [of stealing coconuts] in spite of his privileged standing on the estate." Here was the germination of Sam's adult career as a prosecutor, which though "a stern and thankless calling" nevertheless "has a grandeur that the sentimentality of defense can never hope to rival."

This paternalistic self-confidence, together with his passion for "the cold brilliance" of British murderers in fact and fiction, produces Sam's big break in the Ceylonese legal world, after Angus Hamilton, a British overseer of a colonial tea plantation, is brutally murdered while riding his horse home late one evening. Suspicion immediately falls on a pair of Tamil workers caught trying to pawn the victim's watch, but Sam applies the tried-and-true principles of the Christie yarn to the case. He directs the King's Advocate who is handling the investigation to a femme fatale, the wife of the victim's best friend, another British colonial hand named Gordon Taylor -- a bit of advice that propels Taylor's swift prosecution, conviction and suicide in prison.

Don't worry: This is not giving away any key element of the plot of de Kretser's novel, for The Hamilton Case is really about something far more absorbing than the tidy and classic plot twists of a British murder mystery. Its real subject is the mystery of Sam's own thwarted life and career -- "a relentless whisper of frustrated endeavor" that haunts him well past the local 15 minutes of fame he earns in consulting on the prosecution of Gordon Taylor and into the waning of British rule in the mid-20th century, when the new Ceylon has even less use for a loyal colonial native son. We learn, after the narrative shifts out of Sam's voice -- the novel's initial false start is courtesy of an unfinished manuscript of Sam's memoirs -- that his ambitions to move up the civil service ranks in colonial Ceylon come gradually to naught. As his family's fortune continues to dwindle, and he ponders a loveless marriage into a moneyed family, he thinks of his life as "a thing of cardboard and paint, and a gale raged offstage, mocking him with losses."

He has no idea. Ever drawn to things gothic and British, he sets up housekeeping with his wife in a rambling, garishly yellow seaside estate once owned by Allenby, a 19th-century English coffee baron who hanged himself after a leaf blight. The Dutch family who then came into the mansion met with a similarly lurid fate, and the place is now rumored to be haunted. His wife, Leela -- who meets her connubial marital duties by all too literally lying back and thinking of England, i.e., reciting the names of the heroines of her beloved Walter Scott historical romances -- suffers a traumatic miscarriage and becomes ever more tormented by the notion that the spirit of her dead daughter inhabits the Allenby house. His sister, Claudia, marries a former schoolmate of Sam's who has now reinvented himself, in most unlikely fashion as a fire-breathing anti-Tamil and anti-colonialist demagogue, and meets a still crueler fate.

As his reversals of fortune multiply, Sam becomes ever more resolute in his cold detachment from the all too implacable -- and, far from coincidentally, largely female -- suffering that surrounds him. He calmly waits out the inevitable exhaustion of his father's estate at the hands of his spendthrift mother, Maud, who has always uneasily co-existed with her distinguished son in a state of rigid mutual resentment, so that he can dispatch her to live alone in the family's final remaining cottage, in an isolated jungle settlement called Lokugama. There, as Sam all too confidently reckons, the once beautiful and urbane bon vivant goes slowly mad -- but not before she intuits a terrible secret gnawing away at the very core of the Obeysekere clan's fast-decaying fortunes.

To say more about that would truly be giving away far too much of Michelle de Kretser's clear-eyed, artfully constructed fable about the most comforting, and hence cruelest, myths of a single man's long and dreadfully empty life. In its patient, layered portrait of a man's colossal folly in acquiring an entirely mistaken view of his role in life, The Hamilton Case -- originally published last year in de Kretser's adopted homeland of Australia -- has earned many comparisons with Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. Yet while de Kretser does share some of Ishiguro's icy precision in eliciting her characters' crabbed delusions, she has produced something finally warmer and more compassionate than Ishiguro's chilling novel. For even as she constructs an elegant, pointed cautionary tale against the false comforts of overly tidy narrative certainties, de Kretser also denies readers the easy luxury of shuddering primly at Sam's inhumanity. In one of his early, characteristically deluded moments of patrician serenity Sam asks, "Who isn't drawn to what he pities?" The signal accomplishment of de Kretser's hypnotic, lush and calmly observant novel is that we feel this same sentiment on Sam's own behalf, even after we learn in the story of his life how deeply suspect it must be. That is the final, remarkable mystery that endlessly enlivens The Hamilton Case.

Reviewed by Chris Lehmann

Copyright 2004, The Washington Post Co. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Michelle de Kretser
Published by Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom (2004)
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, corruption and the backwash of empire, this is a world teetering on the edge of chaos. Sam Obeysekere is a Ceylonese lawyer, a perfect product of empire. His family, which once had wealth and influence, starts to crack open as political change comes to the island, and Sam s glamorous father dies leaving gambling debts. At the heart of the novel is the Hamilton case, a murder scandal that shakes the upper echelons of island society; Sam s involvement in it makes his name but sets his life on course of disappointment. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099453796

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
6.98
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Michelle de Kretser
Published by Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom (2004)
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, corruption and the backwash of empire, this is a world teetering on the edge of chaos. Sam Obeysekere is a Ceylonese lawyer, a perfect product of empire. His family, which once had wealth and influence, starts to crack open as political change comes to the island, and Sam s glamorous father dies leaving gambling debts. At the heart of the novel is the Hamilton case, a murder scandal that shakes the upper echelons of island society; Sam s involvement in it makes his name but sets his life on course of disappointment. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099453796

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.20
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Michelle De Kretser
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800994537960000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.20
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Michelle de Kretser
Published by Random House 2004-09-02, London (2004)
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Random House 2004-09-02, London, 2004. paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 9780099453796

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
6.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Michelle de Kretser
Published by Vintage (2004)
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Seller
The Monster Bookshop
(Fleckney, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. BRAND NEW ** SUPER FAST SHIPPING FROM UK WAREHOUSE ** 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000191054

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.34
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 1.99
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

de Kretser, Michelle
Published by Vintage
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage. Book Condition: New. The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, corruption and the backwash of empire, this gripping novel has a pitch-perfect ear for the comedy and a sharp eye for the tragedy of a world at the end of its tether. Sam Obeysekere - 'obey' by name and by nature - is a Ceylonese lawyer, a perfect product of empire. Num Pages: 304 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 199 x 130 x 20. Weight in Grams: 220. . 2004. New Ed. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099453796

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
10.93
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

de Kretser, Michelle
Published by Vintage (2004)
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Softcover Quantity Available: 2
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage, 2004. Book Condition: New. The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, corruption and the backwash of empire, this gripping novel has a pitch-perfect ear for the comedy and a sharp eye for the tragedy of a world at the end of its tether. Sam Obeysekere - 'obey' by name and by nature - is a Ceylonese lawyer, a perfect product of empire. Num Pages: 304 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 199 x 130 x 20. Weight in Grams: 220. . 2004. New Ed. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099453796

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.13
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Michelle de Kretser
Published by Vintage Publishing
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Paperback Quantity Available: 5
Seller
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage Publishing. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, The Hamilton Case, Michelle de Kretser, The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, corruption and the backwash of empire, this is a world teetering on the edge of chaos. Sam Obeysekere is a Ceylonese lawyer, a perfect product of empire. His family, which once had wealth and influence, starts to crack open as political change comes to the island, and Sam's glamorous father dies leaving gambling debts. At the heart of the novel is the Hamilton case, a murder scandal that shakes the upper echelons of island society; Sam's involvement in it makes his name but sets his life on course of disappointment. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099453796

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
4.37
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 6.95
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Michelle de Kretser
Published by Vintage (2004)
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Rating
[?]

Book Description Vintage, 2004. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # GH9780099453796

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.05
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.57
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Michelle De Kretser
ISBN 10: 0099453797 ISBN 13: 9780099453796
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0099453797. Bookseller Inventory # ST0099453797

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.90
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book