Patrick Hamilton begins this novel with a "click". A long, repetitive and tiresome description of of a hypothetical mental pathology. It goes on for sPatrick Hamilton begins this novel with a "click". A long, repetitive and tiresome description of of a hypothetical mental pathology. It goes on for six, albeit short, chapters. Hamilton thinks he needs this pathology to tie up loose ends in the denouement; he does not. Skip the first six chapters.
In the seventh chapter the descriptive prose and the dialog blossom; I forgot I was reading. The novel is mostly readable from that point, but there are still annoying stretches of repetitive drivel and I was forced to speed read through them (first sentences of paragraphs only until my attention was caught once again).
Hamilton describes his characters well, we have all met the likes of Netta and Peter and their crowd, even if he is short on providing motivation for most of them. Hamilton describes Netta as having the mind of a fish which is to say she was almost entirely without rational motivation. This proves to be untrue; Netta always seems rationally (if insufficiently) motivated, it is the protagonist George Bone who seems fishlike in his motivations.
This is a four star novel with one star knocked off for lack of a good editor to cut out the repetitive drivel and one star knocked off for providing insufficient motivation for some of his characters. It seems rather harsh, but there it is. But that isn't what I want you to take away from this review. It is this: In Hangover Square Hamilton is a sprinter slow out of the blocks, but when he gets up on his toes and reaches speed, he is wonderful to read.
**spoiler alert** I have the bad habit of seeing a movie I like that's based on a book and then reading the book because I'm CERTAIN there must be mor**spoiler alert** I have the bad habit of seeing a movie I like that's based on a book and then reading the book because I'm CERTAIN there must be more and better in the book. It's rarely true, but always seems worth a try. Yes, I'm an idiot.
The movie follows the book fairly closely although there are a few differences: 1. The movie is narrated by Waldo Lydecker. The book is divided into five parts with four narrators. 2. The murder weapon in the book is a muzzle loading walking stick, in the movie it is a shotgun that is subsequently hidden in a grandfather clock in Laura's apartment. Caspary has the stick fire twice on the staircase at the denouement. It would seem that a simple muzzle loading stick would be capable of only one shot. 3. In the movie Waldo tries to retrieve the shotgun before it is found. 4. The movie gives Laura's aunt, Mrs. Treadwell a chance to explain why Shelby Carpenter is right for her, but wrong for Laura.
I thought the book would have enough space to add depth to the characters, especially Mrs. Treadwell whom I found rather interesting, but the movie added more depth than the book. Bummer.
Oh, there is one more difference. The movie stars Gene Tierney as Laura Hunt. The book stars Vera Caspary as Laura. Yep, she's just about perfect. So much so that the detective trying to solve her murder falls in love with her just by the impressions she has left on reality. Pretty special. Vera Caspary was indeed all the things Laura Hunt was in the book including finding her real man, Isidor "Igee" Goldsmith.
But it was a good read with workmanlike prose, good characters, a good plot, and innovative story telling. Just not quite as good as the movie, but after all it was the book that made the movie so good....more
This is a wonderful send-up of psychoanalysis in the guise of a murder mystery. (Endore was a committed Communist and Communism, especially the SovietThis is a wonderful send-up of psychoanalysis in the guise of a murder mystery. (Endore was a committed Communist and Communism, especially the Soviet variety, had no use for psychoanalysis.)
Endore makes artful use of an unreliable narrator, the wife of a prominent psychoanalyst, who (allegedly) begins an analysis of herself after an occurrence of kleptomania. There is an intricate storyline that makes wonderful use of symbology especially of the Freudian variety with a decent twist at the end. The title is from Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" and is quite apropos.
This novel formed the basis for Ben Hecht's screenplay for the 1949 noir Whirlpool (which I also liked but for different reasons) which took (some of) the elements of the mystery and left behind the psychoanalysis.
This is the first novel I have read by Endore and am greatly impressed. He has a clean writing style, is concisely descriptive and captivating. I shall read him again at the first opportunity.