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.
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.