As other reviewers can point out, the actual mystery of the Hamilton Case takes up little room in this drawn out novel. Whoever wrote the synopsis on the back of the book did an excellent job of what this book could have accomplished. In re-reading that paragraph, I am sort of tempted to give it a higher score because it sounds so intruiging.
de Krester certainly has a knack for description. She repeatedly takes delight in rattling off lists of every day objects that are perceived treasures by the Obeysekeres. She crafts the environment well, but the book dully trods along, due to the glaring fact that there is little dialogue in the book. Most events are described in the past tense with little hype or investment for the reader. The very end of the book proved to be the most interesting. However, this ending seemed too late to truly convince the reader that this is indeed a mystery novel.
The protagonist Sam is unlikeable. Why? We gain very little insight into his character, except for his occasional interactions with his mother Maud. In fact, Maud's part of the story entertained me the most as I was able to get away from Sam's boring perceptions. Even the court case was boring when in fact it could have been quite riveting.
Instead of living in the excitement of the book, it's like your reading it from a very far, unengaged place. de Krester hides behind her brilliant descriptions and fails to really develop her characters, letting the environment take over as the lead. I couldn't care less for Claudia or Leela when I suppose that their ends should have garnered an emotional reaction besides indifference. Possibly I could have cared more for the rotting abode at Lokugama. It was given more attention to than the characters.
It's a letdown that this novel was painful to finish. de Krester has definite skill and talent. Where was the action?