Synopses & Reviews
Having come of age on the island nation of Ceylon, Sam Obeysekere is a lawyer whose life is guided by the British culture that dominates his homeland. Educated at Oxford, with a dazzling career in his sights, Sam is more English than the English. Only his flamboyant, unruly mother, exiled to a jungle estate, reminds him of his family's real heritage and a different set of home truths.
Sam's undoing arrives in the form of the Hamilton case, a scandalous murder that shakes the upper echelons of island society. Guided by grandiose visions of Sherlock Holmes, he becomes convinced he can solve the mysterious case and that his good standing with the English will insulate him from the unrest the case has exposed. In the end, Sam grapples with a life that has been "a series of substitutions," the darkest of human misfortunes.
Michelle de Kretser has created in Sam "Obey" a tragic character of the highest order, who struggles with his own identity and the tension of family secrets against a backdrop of profound social change. Among de Kretser's considerable gifts is her ability to balance the gravest material with great passion and wit. The Hamilton Case is not a somber novel, but it is surely an important one.
"This novel which also beautifully renders the sensuality of Ceylon is a very artful and evocative plea for interpretation over explanation, for complication over simplification....the Hamilton Case does enchant, certainly, but more important the book admirably and resolutely sees the world as it really is." The New York Times Book Review
"De Kretser's fine, brooding, mischievous style is sure to captivate fans of serious literary fiction." Publishers Weekly
"Masterpiece of a mystery....De Kretser's prose is stunning...evoking the glittering excesses of colonial life...and the tropical fecundity of Ceylon with equally irresistible power." Time Magazine
"A bewitching novel....An utterly captivating blend of intellectual muscle and storytelling magic." Boyd Tonkin, Independent
"Every so often there comes a novel for adults that combines a fastidious literary sensibility with that intense, urgent childhood readability, and then the result is as magical as the old childish enchantments....The Hamilton Case is a novel so delicious that you have to keep stopping as you read, for fear of finishing too soon." Jane Shilling, Telegraph
Lawyer Sam Obeysekere's involvement in murder case that shakes the upper echelons of an island society makes a name for him, but sets his life on course for disappointment.
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.