That rare treasure, a perfect novel. Set in the British colony of Ceylon in the 1930s, The Hamilton Case tells the story of Sam Obeysekere, an Oxford-educated, thoroughly assimilated, supremely English Ceylonese lawyer who takes on the murder of a respectable English planter. As the plot grows darker and more complex, de Kretser's prose gleams with sinister beauty. Her sentences sparkle like precious things; you want to keep them in your pocket on the end of a watch chain. The more he tries to untangle the mystery, the more deeply tangled Sam becomes in his own loyalties and prejudices. "Time never simplifies it unravels and complicates," de Kretser writes. "Guilty parties show up everywhere. The plot does nothing but thicken."