Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Chewy work of a nascent talent
on 3 July 2015
Patrick Hamilton's later books like Hangover Square and 20 Thousand Streets Under The Sky are brilliant, but this is a pretty poor early effort.
It displays all the flaws of a writer's early work. Hamilton is obviously experimenting with form, but this has unfortunate consequences. Yes, he never got rid of his irritating habit of capping up certain words Because They're Important, but here the mix of tenses, of viewpoints, of styles, is infuriating. The first half of the book especially is like chewing through particularly mean toffee. The dialogue also lacks the freshness and economy of his later work, with little more than repetition of some words to make a point.
Other things irk, like the pointless use of a fictional district of London when a real one would have been better. Much of the action just isn't that interesting, and there are so many characters we find it difficult to identify with many of them. Most successful is an early section where Mr Spicer goes on a boozy trip into London, and the closing stages in which we are willing Master Wildman to do the right thing in the field of love.
But this isn't a great book, and it's especially disappointing after reading the author's later classics.