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The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Kretser
The Hamilton Case is the defining moment in the life of Ceylon lawyer Sam Obeysekere. Part of the Sinhalese elite in colonial Ceylon, educated at Oxford, Sam in an Anglophile who is more English than the English. When a wealthy Englishman named Hamilton is murdered, it is Sam who moves the investigation from suspicion of two coolies to another Englishman who allegedly committed a crime of passion. What should be the crowning moment that launches his career, Sam's career aspirations are limited by his ethnicity while his life dissolves around him. The family fortune dwindles, he remains aloof from his wife, and his only son prefers his slowly maddening grandmother to Sam. Michelle de Kretser structures The Hamilton Case around the perspective of many of its participants, slowly revealing family secrets and what really happened in the Hamilton case. This novel has received mostly positive reviews with the Washington Post saying, "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."