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Decline And FallJuly 9 2014
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Patrick Hamilton's major talent as a minor novelist ended with the first volume of this trilogy.
Even THE WEST PIER meanders strangely, held together completely by the fascinatingly perverse personality of Gorse, ostensibly Hamilton's imaginary portrait of Heath.
STIMPSON AND GORSE is a genuine falling off, the spell of Gorse wearing thin, and UNKNOWN ASSAILANT is a total failure. (Michael Sadlier, Hamilton's publisher, refused to write the jacket notes for ASSAILANT out of contempt for it).
Was it alcoholism and the attendant physical and mental decay that destroyed Hamilton's gift? It's hard to believe that the author of TWENTY THOUSAND STREETS, HANGOVER SQUARE, and THE SLAVES OF SOLITUDE (his masterpiece, in my opinion) could agree to publish a book as poor as the final volume of the GORSE series, unless he was desperate to be in print. He certainly didn't need the pounds, given the royalties he was receiving from ROPE and GASLIGHT, which kept him solvent for his entire life.
If you like Hamilton, buy THE WEST PIER, which is available as a single volume in Penguin. The trilogy is for completists only.