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Posted April 2, 2006
Initially interesting, but oh, such a let-down
I must admit, i expected fine things from the Hamilton Case. Intrigued by the notion of mystery and murder, i leapt into the book full of anticipation. Imagine my surprise at the decided lack of emphasis on the title issue, 'The Hamilton Case'. Forcing myself not to skip some of the more mundane passages, i found myself bewildered as to the lack of attention the case was given. I must say that i found myself put-out at the misleading title, and disappointed in my aspirations to an afternoon involved in speculation and investigation. Although i must say that i enjoyed Sam's drily amusing desciptions of characters in his life, particularly his childhood, i found myself unable to warm to him, or indeed take much interest in his life. I found myself finishing the book with the determination to find closure, but little else. I found it depressing, and discomforting, and certainly not an enjoyable read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2005
Fun, Like a Trip to the Dentist
De Kretser writes very beautifully. No argument here. But her poesy is in the service of a dreary, relentlessly depressing story. The 'hero' here, a stand in for an 'upstanding' colonialized man, is a well-rounded lifeless bore. (Gee, thanks for fleshing him out!) His family life is filled with tragedy, humiliation and failure. Following his story is tedious as it is painful. And while it may allow for 'penetrating' insight into the Sinhalese vs. Tamil conundrum that still plagues the island, guess what: write an essay about it. Don't belabor your novel with this heady stuff, if you can't build a cogent through-line of plot and likeable character. A Suitable Boy, for example, does precisely this: You can read and enjoy Vikram Seth's long, thorough chapters about Indian labor history, because there are characters -- likeable characters and villians -- that you care about. The Hamilton Case is just filled with people you feel sorry for. The novel's strongest point -- the mystery that title references -- takes up perhaps 30 pages of the book (and I'm being generous). And worse: the mystery surfaces and then suddenly reappears at the end -- our payoff for having suffered through such dreary, plotless meandering. That payoff is a pretty nifty meditation on mystery and the way we can shift blame and guilt. And if you extend that analysis, De Krester may want us to wonder who shaped her hero 'Obey' and his family. Are the english to blame? Or his parents? Or the spirit world? But frankly, after so much suffering through this ambling horrorshow, it is hard to care. I'm just mad (can you tell?) I wasted a few hours reading this.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.